2019 Dubai World Cup Update: Thunder Snow Looks for Repeat

February 26th, 2019

Because both Accelerate and City of Light retired after the Pegasus World Cup in January, this year's Dubai World Cup is without a sure-fire favorite. The American contingent, led by Yoshida, appears deep. However, no American horse is as accomplished on dirt as 2018 Dubai World Cup winner Thunder Snow.

The Godolphin home bred has been sensational on dirt and disappointing on turf. No doubt, Saeed Bin Suroor feels he's got the Dubai World Cup winner. Right now, I think Saeed's right. Check out my Top 5 Dubai World Cup horses heading into March.

2019 Dubai World Cup:  Who Will Challenge Thunder Snow?

First, There's a Reason Thunder Snow Will be Hard to Beat

His breeding says turf, turf, and, yes, more turf. His sire, Helmet, was nothing but a turf horse. Eastern Joy had success over the turf as well. There's nothing about Thunder Snow's pedigree that eve whispers dirt, but look what he did in his two dirt race in the U.S. last year.

He should have won the Jockey Club Gold Cup. They were going so fast upfront, and he was the closest to Mendelsohn and Diversify, that long shot closer Discreet Lover caught him. He ran an awesome race in the Breeders' Cup Classic, finishing third behind Accelerate and Gunnevera.

Thunder Snow's home track is Meydan Racecourse. He won't have to travel while every horse he faces will. He deserves top billing right now to be the first horse to win back-to-back Dubai World Cups.

2. Seeking the Soul

He hasn't won a race since the Grade 3 Ack Ack at Churchill Downs in September. No worries. He finished second twice to City of Light, in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile and in the Pegasus World Cup. City of Light's outta here, headed to the breeding shed for a well earned retirement.

Seeking the Soul must only beat Thunder Snow, Audible, Yoshida, and a few Japanese invaders, none of which look all that appealing right now, to win the Dubai World Cup. He steps it up in the biggest events. Why wouldn't I have him second on my rankings?

3. Audbile

He finished fifth in the Pegasus World Cup, but he had a brutal trip, having to race outside, then go inside, and then pull outside again. No wonder he flattened out in the stretch. With a better trip, he might have finished second to City of Light instead of Seeking the Soul.

Todd Pletcher should have him ready to roll in the Dubai World Cup. If a horse like Axelrod can pressure Thunder Snow, who knows? Audible might get the perfect trip in the biggest race of his life.

4. Axelrod

The Grade 1 Malibu was too short for him at 7 furlongs. He wasn't ready for the Breeders' Cup Classic. The real story of how good he could be can be found in his second to McKinzie in the Pennsylvania Derby. He's got enough speed to lay close to Thunder Snow while any improvement off the fourth place finish in the Malibu should give him a shot in this.

Another thing to love is that Mike McCarthy trains. If the name sounds familiar, it should. McCarthy trained City of Light. Axelrod's the new "A" horse in Mike's barn.

4. Yoshida

He's a stone-cold closer. That could hurt him at Meydan where the track tends to play fast on Dubai World Cup Day. However, he, like Thunder Snow, is a horse bred for the turf who seems to prefer the dirt. Trainer Bill Mott decided to run him in the Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational even though he had also been entered in the Pegasus World Cup. He failed as the favorite in the Turf Invitational.

Would he have beaten City of Light in the Pegasus World Cup? No. But, he might have run well enough for second. Second place isn't bad in the richest horse race in the world. Mott's not messing around this time. He'll enter Yoshida in the Dubai World Cup and hope someone presses Thunder Snow.