Dubai Preview: Spot Plays for 2023 World Cup Day turf races

March 24th, 2023

Few major racedays in the world are as truly international as Dubai World Cup night. This particularly applies to the four turf features, where horses from up to 10 countries converge.

With large fields and a lot of form to try to figure out, the betting opportunities are tremendous. Here are some suggestions for the turf features.

Race 3, 8:40 a.m. ET: Dubai Gold Cup (G2), turf, 3,200 meters (about 2 miles), 3yos upwards

Dubai Gold Cup Selections

  • #7 Quickthorn
  • #10 Subjectivist
  • #3 Enemy

Dubai Gold Cup Wagers

  • $10 win/$20 show: #7 Quickthorn
  • $1 trifecta: 7, 10 with 3, 7, 10 with 2, 3, 7, 9, 10

Nine of the 15 entries here used either the Nad Al Sheba Trophy (G3) in Dubai or the Red Sea Turf Handicap (G3) in Riyadh as their most recent race. The former race went to #9 Siskany, who beat #13 Ardakan and #1 Al Nayyir, and while Red Sea winner Silver Sonic has gone back to Japan, six of those behind him are here, among them runner-up #3 Enemy and third-place finisher #4 Get Shirty.

Also backing up from the Red Sea is 2021 Dubai Gold Cup winner #10 Subjectivist, who was well beaten in Riyadh. Class-wise, he’s better than anything here, and though on the face of it he needs to have improved a lot in four weeks, he was conceding Enemy nine pounds that day and meets him at level weights here.

Of the others, I’m not convinced #2 Broome will stay two miles, but if he does he’s a big hope. My fancy, however, is #7 Quickthorn, a very good stayer who excels on decent footing. He tackles this first-up, but if he’s in the form that saw him win the Lonsdale Cup by 14 lengths he can definitely win.

Race 4, 9:15 a.m. ET: Al Quoz Sprint (G1), turf, 1,200 meters (about six furlongs), 3yos upwards

Al Quoz Sprint Selections

  • #11 Sight Success
  • #16 Al Dasim
  • #1 Al Suhail

Al Quoz Sprint Wagers

  • $10 win/$30 show: #11 Sight Success
  • $1 trifecta: 11, 16 with 1, 11, 16 with 1, 4, 5, 11, 15, 16

A fascinating contest with 15 horses from seven countries. The market is likely to be led by English three-year-old #16 Al Dasim, who has easily won three sprints in Meydan this year, the latest the Nad Al Sheba Turf Sprint (G3). He is clearly very talented.

When it comes to sprints, I like, if not Australian form, at least that of horses bred in that part of the world. There is one Australian-trained horse, #12 The Astrologist; he’s not in the top tier in Australia, but his best efforts at home are at Flemington, which like Dubai is on a straight track.

Arguably the best representatives of antipodean breeding in this race are from Hong Kong, in the form of Australian-bred #11 Sight Success and New Zealand-bred #4 Duke Wai. They have been just below the level of Hong Kong’s best speed horses, Lucky Sweynesse and Wellington, but without them here they are huge chances. Sight Success clearly has the best form, but Duke Wai is worth using in exotics.

Of the Northern Hemisphere-breds, the best-performed are Godolphin’s #1 Al Suhail, who has generally been better at seven furlongs, and the Group 1-performed pair of #5 Flaming Rib and #15 Ladies Church. But Sight Success and Al Dasim look the ones to focus on here.

Race 7, 11:10 a.m. ET: Dubai Turf (G1), turf, 1,800 meters (about 1 1/8 miles), 3yos upwards

Dubai Turf Selections

  • #7 Lord North
  • #2 Danon Beluga
  • #11 Real World

Al Quoz Sprint Wagers

  • $10 win/$30 show: #7 Lord North
  • $1 trifecta: 2, 7 with 2, 7, 11 with 2, 5, 7, 9, 11, 12

Can #7 Lord North win for a third time? He’s now a seven-year-old, but he clearly loves this track and he showed when winning the Winter Derby (G3) on the Lingfield All-Weather Feb. 25 that he’s fit. It would be a fantastic effort, but I think he can do it.

Two months ago, I would have been supporting #11 Real World, who at that point had only been defeated on turf by the exceptional Baaeed. But he threw in a stinker when 10th in the Jebel Hatta (G1) March 4 behind #1 Alfareeq. If he runs to that level he clearly won’t win, but he may improve with the run.

Japan is well-represented, but three of its four runners have queries. Tokyo Yushun (G1) winner #3 Do Deuce hasn’t raced at less than 1 1/4 miles since his two-year-old days, while Mile Championship (G1) winner #12 Serifos hasn’t raced past a mile, and last year’s close Dubai Turf third #16 Vin De Garde hasn’t shown the same form since then.

#2 Danon Beluga is proven at the trip, however, having won the Kyodo News Hai (G3). He also finished third in the 1 1/4-mile Tenno Sho (Autumn) (G1) behind Equinox and last year’s Dubai Turf dead-heater Panthalassa, form which puts him right in this.

Of the others, #8 Master of the Seas, #9 Nations Pride, and #14 Shirl’s Speight have enough class to get some of it, while I wouldn’t rule out likely Hong Kong outsider #5 Glorious Dragon; he’s been running into the outstanding trio of Golden Sixty, Romantic Warrior, and California Spangle back home, and will appreciate their absence.

Race 8, 12:00 p.m. ET: Dubai Sheema Classic (G1), turf, 2,410 meters (about 1 1/2 miles), 3yos upwards

Dubai Turf Selections

  • #7 Equinox
  • #3 Rebel’s Romance
  • #2 Mostahdaf

Al Quoz Sprint Wagers

  • $10 win/$30 show: #7 Equinox
  • $1 trifecta: 2, 7 with 2, 3, 7 with 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 8

It says a lot about the racing world that Japan’s Arima Kinen (G1) was officially a better race than the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) last year. That will be tested when the winners of the two races meet here.

#3 Rebel’s Romance had an outstanding 2022, winning all five of his races. However, as impressive as he was in the Breeders’ Cup Turf, he never took on Group 1 company in Europe outside Germany, placing some caveats on his form.

In order to complete a never-achieved double of the Turf and the Sheema Classic in consecutive years, he will need to beat Japan’s Horse of the Year #7 Equinox. His form from winning the Tenno Sho (Autumn) (G1) from subsequent Saudi Cup (G1) winner Panthalassa and the Arima Kinen from Boldog Hos and Geraldina is stronger than that of last year’s Japanese winner of this race, #6 Shahryar.

With a 10-horse field, there is a chance the pace won’t be strong, which could play into the hands of #2 Mostahdaf. He couldn’t have been more impressive when winning the Neom Turf Cup (G3) at Riyadh, and though this field is much, much tougher, he could get a jump on the field if the pace is slow.

#8 Westover is an intriguing chance if he can reproduce his Irish Derby (G1) form, while #1 Botanik is also worth a thought if the pace is slow.