Powell: Dubai World Cup Late Pick 3 Analysis
By Dick Powell
The last three races on Saturday’s Dubai World Cup card total $22 million in purses and offer a chance for a lucrative Pick 3 payout. The pool sizes on Saturday will be strong and field sizes of 15, 10 and 10 make it challenging.
The only problem is where do we begin. The $6 million Dubai Turf (G1) attracted 15 international runners highlighted by defending champion VIVLOS. The race is run at 1800 meters or just short of 1 1/8 miles. What makes it intriguing is that it starts on the backstretch and only goes around one turn.
This year’s field includes five Group 1 stakes winners but even with the last two winners of the race in here, nobody has been scared off. The Japanese are sending five runners and their record on the turf in Dubai is strong.
The weather is supposed to be sunny all week so the turf course should be listed as “Good.” Last year, heavy rain made it a mess and this year will be more like it usually is.
When you get beyond the sheer quantity of today’s Dubai Turf, you come away with the realization that there is a decided lack of quality in here. Last year’s field was much more competitive.
BENBATL is the lukewarm favorite at Ladbroke’s in the United Kingdom. He has had a strong Carnival coming in with three good races. He has two wins at course and distance against Group 2 and 3 company and then was a close second in a Group 1 behind BLAIR HOUSE, who drew post 15 in here. Oisin Murphy has to break Benbatl sharply since you do not want to be shuffled back in this field.
Vivlos won it last year but I have a suspicion that is was due to him liking the soft ground and many others hating it. His prep for this in Japan was not very inspiring so I will take a pass on him. The 2016 winner, REAL STEEL, won a Group 2 going this distance in fast time at Tokyo two starts back coming off an even longer layoff then finished up the year with a fourth going 10 furlongs behind KITASAN BLACK, who would odds-on if entered here.
NEOREALISM beat Group 1 stakes foes going 10 furlongs last April then came off a long layoff with a poor performance on soft turf. His last start was a good third in Hong Kong when he had to show speed from post 1 and he gets the “Magic Man,” Joao Moreira, back in the saddle. Blair House won the Jebel Hatta (G1) last out here and picks up William Buick. He has about a half-mile to try to gain some kind of position going into the turf from post 15 and my worry is he’s had four starts already this year and might have already showed his best hand. Don’t see how he can improve here which he will need to do.
For Leg 1 in the Pick 3, I am going with #2 NEOREALISM, #5 BENBATL, #6 JANOOBI, #7 VIVLO and #8 REAL STEEL
The Dubai Sheema Classic (G1) is next up for turf horses going about 1 ½ miles. This race looks like a single to me. CLOTH OF STARS won a Group 1 stakes last year on a left-handed turf course at St. Cloud. He came back off a long layoff with a good second in a Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1) prep when he had to be steadied in a slow-paced race and came back with a good second behind sensational filly ENABLE in the Arc.
Trained by Andre Fabre and owned by Godolphin, Cloth of Stars prepped for this with a good second behind Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) winner Talismanic on an all-weather track at Chantilly in France. Talismanic is in the World Cup (G1) on dirt and this is Cloth of Stars time to shine.
Leg 2: #6 CLOTH OF STARS
The $10 million Dubai World Cup finishes out the night and five horses have shipped over from the United States. WEST COAST is the favorite from Bob Baffert and it’s hard to argue against his chances. He drew outside and can stay out of the kickback while racing clear. The dirt track at Meydan changes as the sun goes down and it tightens up some but the configuration makes it kind to closers.
West Coast won the Travers Stakes (G1) going this distance and in his last two starts, he faced GUN RUNNER, who was virtually unbeatable at that time. At even weights, West Coast will be tough.
The only horse I think that can be in the mix is the mare FOREVER UNBRIDLED. She won all three starts last year and her late kick is devastating. Mike Smith fills in for Johnny Velazquez but they don’t call him “Big Money Mike” for nothing.
I like a straight exacta with West Coast over Forever Unbridled.
Leg 3: #9 WEST COAST and, for less money if playing multiple tickets, #6 FOREVER UNBRIDLED
Pick 3 Tickets (races 7-9)
Main Ticket: 2,5,6,7,8 with 6 with 9,6
Longshot Ticket: 8 with 6 with 9,6