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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Mr. me a ticket?

Saturday morning is breakfast at the races for thoroughbred horse racing fans as Dubai World Cup Day kicks off a spectacular weekend of racing that includes the Florida Derby from Gulfstream Park and the Louisiana Derby from the Fair Grounds. The Meydan Race Course, or the “House that the Sheikh Built” will be home to some of the richest races of the year.

Here's the lineup and a bit of commentary, a synopsis of the U.S. horses running, so fill up your bowl with some Wheaties and tune in…

Race 4: (10:25 a.m. EST) UAE Derby. Run over 1 3/16-mile on the Tapeta, for $2 million doubloons. No serious Derby horse has ever come out of this race. Defending Derby champion trainer Graham Motion ships 1-Lucky Chappy over after finishing a game second in the Grade 3 El Real Camino Derby at Golden Gate Fields on the Tapeta surface there. Alan Garcia made the trip from the U.S. to ride Lucky Chappy (6-1). The winner of that race, Daddy Nose Best, won last weekend’s Grade 3 Sunland Derby. A Canadian and potential Queen’s Plate hopeful, 3-Maritimer (10-1), ships in from Woodbine to give it a go for our neighbors to the north. Aiden O’Brien trained 7-Daddy Long Legs (10-1) will attempt to rebound from his dismal 12th place finish in the Breeders’ Cup (BC) Juvenile. The BC Juvenile Turf champion 13-Wrote (4-1) is the morning line favorite and will take his first run on the all-weather surface. He stretches out over a mile for the first time. This one appears to be wide open and anyone’s race. At first glance, I'm favoring Michael de Kock’s 6-Mickdaam (8-1) over this field.

Race 5: (11:00 a.m. EST) Al Quoz Sprint. A 5-furlong turf sprint with a purse of $1 million dollars has attracted 16 runners. Steve Asmussen shipped Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint champion 3-Regally Ready (6-1) over the pond to take a shot at the big purse for Vinery Stables. He is the lone U.S. hopeful in the race. Australian 13-Better Be The One (20-1) is a longshot possibility as is 8-August Rush (10-1).

Race 6: (11:35 a.m. EST) Dubai Golden Shaheen. A 6-furlong sprint on the Tapeta surface, with a purse of two bills, encompasses a field of 12 horses. Don’t confuse this race with the Shabeen, an old Buffalo bar and grill on Delaware Avenue, very popular on and around Mar. 17. The 6-year old 1-Rocket Man (9-2) once again graces the desert with his presence. He’s 19 for 25 life time and always a threat to win this one. Bob Baffert brought 7-The Factor (3-1) over to see if he can burn up the synthetic surface like he does in the States. Baffert suffered an untimely heart attack upon his arrival in Dubai on Monday and has been hospitalized all week long, but appears to be on the road to recovery. Rafael Bejarano retains the mount and made the trip to ride The Factor. This is looking to be another highly competitive race that I’ll find hard to keep 3-Giant Ryan (8-1) and 12-Lucky Nine (12-1) off my horizontal tickets at those odds.

Race 7: (12:25 p.m. EST) Dubai Duty Free. A full field of 16 horses will be going 1 1/8-miles on the Meydan turf course for $5 million. Godolphin’s U.S. bred City Zip gelding 13-City Style (8-1) looks to be a contender for the home team. He finished second to last year’s Derby runner Master of Hounds three weeks ago in a Grade 1 at Meydan. Rivals 4-Ambitious Dragon (4-1) and 9-Xtension (20-1) bring their game from the Japanese Sha-Tin race course looking for the big payday. A horse that should be in the hunt here is Aidan O’Brien’s 2-Await The Dawn (6-1), who should rebound off a rough performance in the Breeders’ Cup Turf in November.

Race 8: (1:00 p.m. EST) Dubai Sheema Classic. Ten runners will run 1 1/2-miles on the turf for $5 million beans. No American horses have entered this race, so it’s get out the dartboard time. Actually the field does include some familiar faces in 9-St. Nicholas Abbey (2-1), winner of the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf at Churchill Downs in September and 6-Treasure Beach (20-1), who ran third in the Canadian International last October up at Woodbine in Toronto. Second choice and my selection is 8-Cirrus Des Aigles (3-1) who looks to be sitting on a big one.

Race 9: (1:40 p.m. EST) Dubai World Cup. Run at the classic 1 1/4-mile distance on the Tapeta for TEN MILLION DOLLARS. This is a terrific race with many story lines and big name horses. From the U.S., Breeders’ Cup Classic runner-up 14-Game On Dude (3-1) with female jockey Chantal Sutherland aboard will try and bring back some cash to the States for the ailing Baffert. The aforementioned 1-Master of Hounds (12-1) will try the all-weather surface after two straight races on the Meydan turf course. Breeders’ Cup Distaff Champion 4-year old 7-Royal Delta (8-1) also makes the trip as trainer Bill Mott and jockey Jose Lezcano try to become the first connections to win the World Cup with a filly. The Japanese send over two hopefuls, last year’s runner-up 10-Transcend (8-1) and 5-Smart Falcon (10-1). Aiden O’Brien conditions 4-So You Think (5-1), last seen finishing sixth in last year’s Classic at Churchill. This should be a terrific betting race. If Transcend is anywhere near 8-1, he will be great value to take all the marbles. May take a flyer on Smart Falcon just for kicks, also.

Enjoy your breakfast from the desert, and let’s go cash some tickets!



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