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Juddmonte Farms-owned and Bob Baffert-trained Arrogate will break from the post nine post Saturday in the Group 1 Dubai World Cup at Meydan Racecourse. Fourteen horses were entered for the $10 million dollar race, five of whom will represent the red, white, and blue corner. Arrogate will lead the charge, but other U.S. runners include:
Winchell Thoroughbreds & Three Chimneys Farm-owned and Steve Asmussen-trained Gun Runner (post 5); Donegal Racing & Calumet Farm-owned and Todd Pletcher-trained Keen Ice (post 10); Starlight Racing & Qatar Racing-owned and Todd Pletcher-trained Neolithic (post 11); and Watson, Pegram, & Weitman-owned and Bob Baffert-trained Hoppertunity (post 12).
The Dubai World Cup will run at approximately 12:45 ET Saturday and will be broadcast on NBC Sports.
#9 Arrogate – There aren’t enough good things to say about Arrogate. He’s been absolutely incredible since his Travers Stakes victory last year, when he set a stakes and track record, and he followed that up with Breeders Cup Classic and Pegasus World Cup victories. He set a Gulfstream Park track record in the Pegasus, which further strengthened his growing legacy. A win here would give him victories in races with purses of six, twelve, and ten million dollars! A win here would put him past California Chrome in career earnings, despite only four career stakes wins. Baffert’s been extremely fortunate; he had a “Horse of a Lifetime” in American Pharoah, and he now has another one with Arrogate. Let’s see if the legend of Arrogate will continue to grow on Saturday.
#5 Gun Runner – This horse has turned into a monster, something I didn’t see coming at this time last year. His win in the Grade 2 Razorback Handicap last time out was so easy that he was basically in a race all by himself. On Dubai World Cup night, this track usually plays strongly to speed, and with Gun Runner’s somewhat inside draw, it only makes sense that he’ll go straight to the lead and try to take them wire to wire. I don’t think he can hold off the monster that is Arrogate, but if Arrogate stubs his toe, this is your next likely winner.
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#12 Hoppertunity – This is an absolute war horse that keeps churning out solid races. He’s also no stranger to success at Meydan, as he finished third in the Dubai World Cup last year. Every time you think this old pro might be fading, he jumps up and runs another solid race. Take last time out in the Grade 2 San Antonio Stakes at Santa Anita, which he won by a length over Mor Spirit. He looks to be in fine form coming into this one, and once again, he should come with his run in the end and have a shot to finish second or third.
#3 Gold Dream – He was a Grade 1 winner last time out in Japan, a country that’s had some success on Dubai World Cup night. He’s finished on the board eight of nine career races, which shows me he has the class to compete with most horses in here. He’s a solid underneath play that could be a good enough price to make the payouts decent.
#10 Keen Ice – He keeps showing up in all of the big races! He hasn’t won since the Travers in August 2015, but he’s run plenty of thirds and fourths in big-time races like the Breeders Cup Classic and the Pegasus. His key looks to be the 1 1/4-mile distance, which is exactly what he’ll get today. He has virtually zero shot of winning, but it would be risky to not play him in the third- or fourth-place spot. He’ll be running down the lane late.
#14 Mubtaahij – The runner-up from last year’s Dubai World Cup is back for more. He’s best known to Americans for his so-so form in the states, but he’s done his best work over this track. He was the UAE Derby winner in 2015, and his 2016 World Cup performance was the best of his career. On paper, his overall form doesn’t match up with many of these foes, but running again at Meydan could certainly move him up once again.
#2 Long River – He won the local prep for this race last time out, but that was his first win at Meydan in nine tries. He will be hard-pressed to make it two in a row today.
#11 Neolithic – He gave a solid effort last time out in the Pegasus, finishing third, but he was never close to beating Arrogate. Going 1 1/4 miles today might not agree with him as much this time around, so I’m reluctantly tossing him here.
#13 Special Fighter – He’s been a consistent runner throughout his career, especially at Meydan. He finished fourth in last year’s Dubai World Cup, and last time out, he came back off a long layoff to finish second behind Long River in the local prep race. He’s a fringe underneath contender.
#1 Apollo Kentucky – He was bred in the United States, but he’s made his career running in Japan. Last time out, he was a Grade 1 winner by 1 1/2 lengths over Awardee. I almost listed both of those horses as “party crashers,” but I just couldn’t quite get there with them.
#6 Move Up – He’s a solid horse on the turf, but I’m skeptical that he’s good enough on the dirt to get the job done in a race like this. He’s only made one start on the dirt, which was an average fourth over this track last time out.
#7 Awardee – He was a consistent runner in Japan, with back-to-back second-place Group 1 efforts after winning six straight. He’s somewhat of a sleeper coming into this one, but I just couldn’t quite label him a “party crasher.”
#8 Furia Cruzada – He picked up a big win by a nose over this course two races, but then finished third in the local prep. This type of competition is a little too tough for him.
#4 Lani – I’ve been done with this horse for awhile. He seems to need either a break or a significant class drop to find the winner’s circle again. It’s been over a year since he’s done so, and he won’t do it in this spot, either.
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