Dubai Preview: Spot Plays for Feb. 24, 2023

February 24th, 2023

Dubai takes a bit of a back seat this weekend in Middle East racing, with the Saudi Cup (G1) meeting taking prominence.

However, a Group 2 race and two valuable conditions races are on tap at Meydan on Friday. Here are some spot plays for those races.

Race 4, 10:45 a.m. ET: Jumeirah Fillies Guineas, turf, 1,600 meters (about one mile), 3yo fillies

Godolphin looks to hold the two strongest chances here. The best-performed is probably #7 Mawj, a Group 2 winner and Group 1-placed in England last year. However, she only just lasted to win here Jan. 27 in her first race past six furlongs, and a mile may well stretch her stamina.

I tend to favor the other Godolphin runner, #5 Fairy Cross. She hasn’t been seen since winning the Prestige S. (G3) over seven furlongs at Goodwood last August. We don’t know how she’s progressed, but it’s not an overly strong field, and Fairy Cross looks the likelier to stay a mile.

  • $10 win/$30 place: #5 Fairy Cross

Race 5, 11:20 a.m. ET: Balanchine S. (G2), turf, 1,800 meters (about 1 1/8 miles), 4yo and up, fillies and mares

Cape Verdi (G2) winner #1 With The Moonlight will be tough to beat here. Five horses she beat in the Cape Verdi are facing her again, but they all have to find at least 6 1/2 lengths, and it would be a surprise if any of them reversed that result.

The only horse that looks to have any chance of toppling With The Moonlight is her new stablemate #8 Tranquil Lady, previously trained by Joseph O’Brien. A dual Group 3 winner, she finished ahead of With The Moonlight in the Epsom Oaks (G1), though that was With The Moonlight’s worst performance to date, and her best form since has surpassed anything Tranquil Lady has achieved.

The odds on With The Moonlight won’t be great, so I’m going to go with exotics here.

  • $10 exacta: 1 with 8
  • $3 trifecta: 1 with 8 with all
  • $1 trifecta: 8 with 1 with all

Race 6, 11:55 a.m. ET: Jumeirah Derby, turf, 2,000 meters (about 1 1/4 miles), 3yos

Jumeirah Classic winner Naval Power isn’t backing up here, but the horses that finished the next six placings behind him that day return for this.

#6 One Nation made Naval Power work hard to win that day, and he will be well favored to get some compensation with victory here. However, he may find third-place finisher #3 Highbank a little tougher this time: Highbank missed the start and then made his move on the worst going on the inside of the track, and with a better start he is a real winning chance.

Of the horses that didn’t contest the Jumeirah Classic, the best chance looks to be #7 Sharar; he is on the improve and won impressively here Feb. 5. Jumeirah Classic fourth #4 Legend Of Cannes should be considered for exotics.

  • $10 win/$30 show: #3 Highbank
  • $1 trifecta: 3, 6 with 3, 6, 7 with 3, 4, 6, 7