2016 Dubai World Cup Power Rankings

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D.S. Williamson

February 9th, 2016

Mshawish laid down the gauntlet in the 2016 Dubai World Cup with a dazzling display of talent in the Donn Handicap over the weekend. I predicted after Mshawish's Hal Hope win in January that he might become Todd Pletcher's dirt horse this year. So far, that appears to be the case.

But, Mshawish won't be alone in this year's Dubai World Cup (Meydan, March 26). Even though it's looking like the Bob Baffert trained Dortmund is going to bypass the  World Cup for a run in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap at his home base, there are plenty of other outstanding horses ready to do battle in Dubai.

2016 Dubai World Cup Power Rankings

1. Mshawish (Current UK odds: 16-1)

I was impressed enough with Todd's top handicap horse to send him to the top of my Dubai World Cup Rankings. I truly hope that they don't enter this guy into the Godolphin Mile, a race that should be much tougher to win. What's great about his Donn win is how well he responded to John Velasquez's cues. He had no trouble traveling on the rail behind one the most tepid first half-miles I've ever seen in the Donn. Then, when Johnny V. gave him his cue, he went out and around the front-runners. Sure, Valid is in no way comparable to California Chrome or Frosted. But, Mshawish is also a Grade 1 winner on Turf. Plus, he finished 4th in the Cigar Mile, which was too short for him. He beat Private Zone in that race. This guy is the real deal.

2. California Chrome (4-1 Fav)

He beat Hoppertunity and Imperative with ease in the San Pasqual Stakes in June. Both of those horses came back to finish 1, 2 with Hoppertunity winning in the Grade 2 San Antonio over the weekend. That was a decent San Antonio field. Watch his 2015 Dubai World Cup second place finish again. Chrome was washed out a bit. Almost as important is the fact that he was on a somewhat fast pace, went a couple of horses wide around both turns, and still easily beat every one save for Prince Bishop. Chrome seemed more relaxed in the San Pasqual last month than I've ever seen him. Hopefully, he'll show up that relaxed on Dubai World Cup Day.
3. Frosted (9-2)

The son of Tapit was absolutely brilliant in the Grade 2 Al Maktoum Challenge Round 2 at Meydan. When he turned on the jets, it was all over. The field wasn't great. It showed, though, that he's definitely acclimated to his surroundings. Godolphin knows what they're doing. The World Cup is their race. They've won it more than any other racing outfit. I'd be worried about his action, his legs move awfully fast for a horse looking to win a 1 1/4 mile race, if not for the fact that Frosted finished second in the Belmont behind American Pharoah last year.
4. Fascinating Rock (16-1)

The winner of the Grade 1 Champion Stakes at 1 1/4 miles over the turf last October has no real dirt breeding to speak of. But it might not matter. Mshawish has proven that you can go from turf to dirt. California Chrome proved that you can go from dirt to turf when winning the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby over Del Mar's turf in 2014. Good horses can win over any surface. Fascinating Rock is one heck of a race horse with a trainer in Dermot Weld who has had a ton of experience conditioning horses to Dubai World Cup Day wins. I have to include Fascinating Rock in my Top 5.

5. Hoppertunity (16-1)

What's amazing is that Hoppertunity went about 6 to 7 wide and still held off Imperative to win the Grade 2 San Antonio this past weekend. That was an incredible race by the Bob Baffert trainee. He won't be able to go that wide in the Dubai World Cup and win. But, it shows horseplayers that Bob is probably making the right choice by keeping Dortmund at home for the Santa Anita Handicap while pointing this guy to the Dubai World Cup. A quick pace and a better trip could lead to an upset win on March 26.

5A. Effinex (12-1)

Unlike Hoppertunity, whom this guy beat in the Grade 1 Clark Handicap in 2015, Effinex might go in the Santa Anita Handicap on March 12 instead of going in the Dubai World Cup on March 26. He's a talented horse to win the Dubai World Cup. The problem is his mind. Sometimes, he freaks himself out before a race and won't respond to anything during the race. He ended up 11th in the Grade 2 Brooklyn Handicap because he just didn't want to run. Then, he came back and beat Tonalist a race later in the Grade 2 Suburban. It takes a lot of effort and dollars to run in the Dubai World Cup. Why not go back to Santa Anita with Effinex, where he finished second to American Pharoah in the Breeders Cup Classic, for a shot at the Big Cap?


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