Hanson: How I'm betting on Dubai World Cup night

Profile Picture: Vance Hanson

March 24th, 2017

Traveling halfway around the world might prove to be the great equalizer, but then maybe not. On paper, Arrogate stands head and shoulders above all other dirt-based horses on Earth heading into Saturday's $10 million Dubai World Cup (G1). Given all the positive reports we've heard about the long-striding colt since his arrival in the Middle East, it's hard to envision him losing at short odds.

Conceding the win to Arrogate (#9, 1-3), the betting strategy for the World Cup is to find the correct runner-up for the Exacta. Gun Runner makes sense on current form, but as the probable second choice doesn't offer much value and might, at 1 1/4 miles, be vulnerable to a rival seemingly more proficient at the distance. I'll try and beat him out of the Exacta using Keen Ice (#10, 20-1), who's been in need of more distance than what he's seen in his last couple, and Mubtaahij (#14, 8-1), second in this race a year ago to California Chrome and coming off a runner-up finish in a track-and-distance prep.

Having already shared my view on the UAE Derby (G2), here are other horses of interest on the World Cup undercard:

Godolphin Mile (G2): Not sure if the speed-favoring nature of the Meydan track on March 4 was entirely to blame, but Second Summer (#5, 15-1) is undoubtedly better than what he showed in the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 3 (G1) that evening. Hero of the Californian (G2) at Santa Anita last summer, he made a good first impression in Dubai missing in a photo-finish two back in Round 2 (G1) of the Al Maktoum Challenge.

Dubai Gold Cup (G2): Defending champion Vazirabad (#3, 9-5) has lost three of his last five, but figures to be sharper after running second to Beautiful Romance in the Nad Al Sheba Trophy (G3) a month ago when prepping for this more lucrative spot.

Al Quoz Sprint (G1): Although Europe's best sprinters don't always hold up facing speedsters from America, Hong Kong, or elsewhere, Limato (#11, 5-2) has been amazingly consistent throughout his career and six furlongs (6-4-2-0) is right in his wheelhouse. I don't believe that was the case when finishing sixth as the favorite in the Breeders' Cup Mile (G1) last time.

Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1): I honestly don't have a great feel for this race, which U.S.-based horses have often won in the past, and this year's American representatives don't wow me for various reasons. I do find it amazing that the longest-priced horse on the U.S. morning line is Wild Dude (#3, 99-1), who not too long ago was one of California's leading sprinters and a multiple Grade 1 winner. Things haven't gone well for the seven-year-old since a fruitless trip to South Korea last September, and he's only placed in two of four starts in Dubai this winter. Joao Moreira picks up the mount, and perhaps he can make a late impact if the pace is hot. Strictly an each-way action play for entertainment purposes.

Dubai Turf (G1): The form lines with Almanzor look incredibly solid for morning line favorite Zarak, who enters off a win in the Dubai Millennium (G3) over the course and distance. Still, it's hard to take too short a price. Heshem (#3, 20-1), who finished in front of and behind Zarak in a pair of meetings last year in France, might outrun his odds after a get-fit trip over the Chantilly all-weather earlier this month. The only time he's never really shown up was in the Prix Guillaume d'Ornano (G2) versus Almanzor last August.

Dubai Sheema Classic (G1): Postponed and Highland Reel are the two most accomplished horses in the field, but both have suffered some head-scratching losses of late. Jack Hobbs (#2, 4-1), who recovered from a pelvic stress fracture to run a solid third behind Almanzor and Arc (G1) winner Found in the Champion (G1) at Ascot last October off a long spell, has been pointing toward this race by trainer John Gosden for some time and the 2015 Irish Derby (G1) winner could pull a mild surprise against a pair of foes that have shown some vulnerability of late.

Be sure to check out Kellie Reilly's comprehensive coverage of all World Cup night races, and join us at Saturday morning to view and wager on the entire card.

(Arrogate photo: Dubai Racing Club/Neville Hopwood)

(Jack Hobbs photo: Melanie Martines)