Pat's Picks - Dubai 1-16-2014

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Pat’s Picks for the Dubai World Cup Carnival

Thursday, January 16, 2014


Race 1 - $110,000 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships Handicap (Rated 95-105) – 2,200 meters – Tapeta

It’s seemingly impossible to think #8 CAT O’MOUNTAIN loses this race. A homebred for Darley, he’s unbeaten over all-weather, which includes two races at 2,200 meters. It’s still a horse race, but he’s the most logical horse of the Carnival so far.

#10 SAXO JACK beat Carnival veteran Banna Boirche in his only try on the all-weather, a winning chance at that in Ireland. His bounce back fourth to #5 HAAFAGUINEA at Newbury was respectable. Speaking of Haafaguinea – with three wins in six starts, he seems well in touch with this bunch, and owns an all-weather score on debut. Of this pair, we prefer the former Clive Cox trainee, Haafaguinea, to Saxo Jack.

#6 RALSTON ROAD had a dream run last time, beating a very good field in the process. Arguably better over longer trips, the son of Dylan Thomas surprised many last time beating the well-regarded Meandre and to a lesser extent, Farrier. Now, he’s drawn wide in a race that features some obvious Carnival types. While Ralston Road should appreciate the extra 200 meters, things just aren’t likely to go as well as they did last time.

1st - #8 CAT O’MOUNTAIN, 2nd - #5 HAAFAGUINEA, 3rd - #6 RALSTON ROAD


Race 2 - $75,000 UAE 1,000 Guineas Trial – 1,400 meters – Tapeta

#4 AUTUMN LILY settles well, but has had a few stumbles along the way in two of her five career starts. #9 WEDDING RING has impressed in her two most recent starts, granted races restricted to Tattersalls graduates, so it does take a bit of the shine off. Her win over Ihtimal on debut put her in good form-franking as the season progressed, and was probably too close to the pace next out when beaten off well by Kiyoshi. Both of these fillies are to be well-respected.

A pair of Mike de Kock shippers from South Africa get in the fray. #1 MAGROOMA was saddled with the widest draw in the Golden Slipper (G1) on Durban July day last year, and covered all sorts of extra ground. Races at that distance start on the turn – so imagine starting from the widest gate, already on the turn. Needless to say, she dropped out the back and did run on to grab eighth, beaten only four lengths, but her chances ended at the barrier draw. Being by Dubawi, you have to think she’ll get over this surface, and might want more ground. The same can be said for #2 MAGROORA. Both, however, were late arrivals to the Carnival in the South African quarantine bunch, and are almost assuredly in need of the run. We’ll wait on them.

#5 LETTERFROMAMERICA is a half-sister to London Bridge, who won the Breeders’ Cup Marathon in 2013 over 14 furlongs, half this distance. Her dam, Kindness, is a half-sister to a multiple Grade 1 winning turfer in America, Magical Fantasy. Add into this the fact that Letterfromamerica is by Ghostzapper, a champion dirt runner in America, and a sire who has had plenty of success with progeny on all-weather surfaces. The field she beat at Roscommon in late July was hardly top notch, but two horses down the field did come back to win, and a third won late in the season. Most importantly, she is pace in this field, always breaking well and running from the front. She might not be a great win candidate, but surely a placing chance.

This is quite the spot to debut #3 ANWAR DUBAI, but the filly is a half to Haafaguinea (who goes in race one), 3-from-6 lifetime, and a winner in his career debut. Another sibling, Netley Marsh, was only a one-time winner, but it was in his second lifetime start. If this one is going to do much, we think it’d be early.



Race 3 - $75,000 UAE 2,000 Guineas Trial – 1,400 meters – Tapeta

#1 FULL COMBAT and #2 JOURNEYMAN are in the same position as Magrooma and Magroora in the fillies edition of this race, coming in off the long quarantine. The former was saddled with a brutal post on Durban July day and packed it in early, while Journeyman is a winner from two starts and also endured the long journey. Journeyman is one of the few sons of Trippi to make it to Dubai, and over the all-weather, it could make him incredibly interesting. Progeny from Trippi were winning at a rate of around 20 percent in their all-weather starts entering the 2013 season, according to the BRIS Sire Stats, earning the stallion an A+ rating in their analysis. Full Combat is a trier, no doubting, and is reported to be doing well in his work. Both are likely very good going forward, but one has to think they are both in need of this run.

#8 FIGURE OF SPEECH is only a maiden winner, but his lone try on all-weather was a dandy, just missing in the Sirenia Stakes (G3) at Kempton. The fifth placer, Hot Streak, went on to win the Cornwallis Stakes (G3) later in the season on grass. Unlike many runners in this race from years past, Figure of Speech is actually well-raced – making eight starts in his career. He just missed in the July Stakes (G2) in his second-time out, and seems to have proven if he’s going on the grass, he wants the ground rattling…or the all-weather. He’ll get that here. The problem is the wide draw, and the fact he is not racing in Godolphin’s colors. That might seem trivial, but it is a legitimate concern.

#7 EMIRATES FLYER has been settling for second in several nice spots, but needs to take to the Tapeta to get on top here. The second and third past the post in his maiden win went on to break their mark soon after, and while he beat only two rivals in his second career win, one of those ended the season with a win in the Flying Childers Stakes (G2) at Doncaster. Washaar, one of the rivals who bested Emirates Flyer into second, came on to win another listed event, then was beaten just a length in the Royal Lodge (G2). Of all the Godolphin horses in this spot, he has kept the best company. Will it relate to an all-weather win first up?

#6 DUBAWI FUN basically made all the running in his debut at Southwell over what appeared a quite tiring surface. His turf races weren’t quite up to snuff and he makes a seasonal reappearance. He’s a longshot chance to make some impression.

#13 SAFETY CHECK is another strange Godolphin runner in that this is his tenth lifetime start. So many from the home team who have won this in past years are very unexposed, but this guy has three wins and four seconds from nine jumps. He’s well drawn and should race forward. A lively chance.

If by some chance #17 ASMAR were to draw into the race, he deserves serious consideration off a terrible start in his debut, closing into the pace to grab a flashy third-placing.

No one in this field really blows us away, and it makes you think one of the South African imports could possibly come to the fore. While it seems little doubt to us that both of them are likely to improve for this, we are taking a chance here with Journeyman, but can’t be surprised if either of Godolphin’s runners - Emirates Flyer or Safety Check grab the win, or the other Charlie Appleby trainee, Figure of Speech. Full Combat is an honest trier and could grab a slice. The exposed nature of the Godolphin-trained runners, having made 23 lifetime starts between them, is very odd for this race, which for some reason, give us pause.



Race 4 - $120,000 Dubai Duty Free Gold World Cup Handicap (Rated 100-110) – 2,000 meters – Turf

You could probably toss a blanket over this bunch, as 11 of the 12 (bar Pisco Sour) seem very competitive in this class.

#2 SO BEAUTIFUL is a new gelding and has the local back class that makes him competitive in this spot. Essentially, he’s been keeping better company, and he ran well enough first-up last year to suggest he could do so again with the permanent equipment change.

#7 ENERGIZER is a winner over the trip and ran a very close second in Germany when first-up in 2012, losing by a head in a Group 3, where Pastorius was behind him in fourth. He brings the Tercententary form and he wins. It’s that simple. If he runs like a horse coming off a 512 day break, he doesn’t. Your call.

As #3 SHEIKHZAYEDROAD has aged, it appears he has a greater affinity for firmer ground. The aptly named son of Dubawi is finally racing in the UAE. For those who don’t know, Sheikh Zayed Road a major thoroughfare in Dubai. His run in the Wolferton at Royal Ascot was superb, coming patiently from last off a wide draw, and followed it with a decent placing at Goodwood.

#8 SAHAWAR is a potential pace threat in a race where there isn’t much in the way of early speed. He’s been running in a few ridiculously held-up French races, and never seemed all that keen on settling in behind, even though he ran a good one from off the pace at Deauville. If allowed to run forward, he could be the one to catch. With many gunning for some sort of pace presence in here, the speed factor makes him dangerous.

#5 CODE OF HONOR deserves plenty of attention after a striking second from off the pace in the Cambridgeshire at Newmarket. He was a purchase for Godolphin after that, but assigned to carry the colors of Sheikh Majid bin Mohammed Al Maktoum. In his three-length win at Sandown in July, he did not look as stout as the final margin indicated, battling on for quite a way before laying down and opening-up. The horse he beat into second, Mushaakis, won on his next outing but has been awful since, including one start at Jebel Ali.

#10 AUSSIE REIGNS just missed twice over this trip in the UK last season, finally stretching out after being limited to shorter runs. He started 13 times in 2013, and gets going right away in 2014. It does make us wonder if he will be at his best right away.

We’d suggest some caution with #1 STAR EMPIRE. He ran lights-out in his debut last year off a nearly two year layoff, and came on for that with a narrow win in solid company. Proven to run well fresh, he’s dangerous off that fact, but does seem to want extra ground. Considering this probably a prep, we’re passing.

#9 SEFRI even makes some sense for trainer Erwan Charpy, a good second in the Prix La Force (G3) at Longchamp, he also packs a potential pace punch, which this field is otherwise lacking. Dane O’Neill gets the second-call ride for Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, and if he peruses the form long enough, he’ll realize there isn’t much in the way of speed beside his former French-based rival Sahawar. With a good draw, he has to show speed and dictate terms, but the competition with these handicappers is tough.

#4 CHAPTER SEVEN has three wins in his career by about a combined 1 ¼ lengths, and is winless in his last nine starts. He’s been hit and miss, with some bad efforts tossed in amongst his good ones. We’d lack confidence in picking him on top, that’s for sure.

Overall, we are looking for someone with a combination of pace attentiveness and class, and so finally, we get to #11 THA’IR. He should go close, especially off that rail draw, and has proven his ability over firmer going at the distance. Add into that he is fairly well handicapped and first-up for Saeed bin Suroor, and he is our most tentative selection.

1st - #11 THA’IR, 2nd - #9 SEFRI, 3rd - #2 SO BEAUTIFUL


Race 5 - $150,000 Dubawi Stakes (Listed) – 1,200 meters – Tapeta

What a phenomenal race! If you are having a flutter on the result, any of a variety of angles could be employed for this race, as it really is such a dandy encounter. Five of the first six finishers from last year’s Dubai Golden Shaheen step out on their seasonal reappearance, including the last two winners of the race, #3 REYNALDOTHEWIZARD and #2 KRYPTON FACTOR.

Last season, Reynaldothewizard made his local debut in a conditions race before the Carnival in what was obviously a prep for his banner season. Is he in the peak of fitness coming into this race after winning the Mahab Al Shimaal and Golden Shaheen last year? The same question must be asked of Krypton Factor. Granted, he didn’t have his best season last year, but rallied well in Europe despite not winning, was very competitive. Still, he also has not done his best work first-up, and that’s what this race is designed to do – prep. Obviously, both can win this with no problem, but tactically, you have to think they aren’t 100%.

#7 BALMONT MAST is as true as they come, and 12 of his 15 lifetime placings have come on the all-weather. Like most turf sprinters, their form can come and go with the ground and the pace, and his back and forth style on grass shows that, but he literally always shows up on the all-weather, and that has to be considered in his first-up run as well. He had a run on the grass first last year here, beaten 3 ½ lengths on opening night of the Carnival, but goes straight into this spot. Ignore him at your own peril.

#9 UNITED COLOR is one who could be on the improve this season, his second in the UAE. He has a local run under his belt this season when second beaten only a neck by Muarrab in a conditions event at Jebel Ali. For those that don’t follow that circuit, Muarrab has won three races this season up the hill, and his first two were by a combined eleven lengths. Facing tougher company next out, United Color gave him a real shot first off the bench. The third place finisher from that race, Take Ten, came back to run a solid fifth beaten two lengths last week at the Carnival in a 1,000-meter turf race.

#4 RAFEEJ is back in a spot we’d prefer to see him, on the Tapeta. Frustrated to see him try the grass last week, he was beaten four lengths in a Carnival handicap, his two runs this year on the Tapeta have been solid. Most impressive was his win over Tamaathul on December 19, stopping the clock in 1:10.78. Trainer Musabah Al Muhairi is on a massive roll at the moment, which only increases the rational consideration of this guy. Also worth noting is that the third and fourth place finishers from Rafeej’s last win race came back to run first and second in a 90-110 handicap at Jebel Ali last Friday, setting a new course record in the process (over a very fast, and very wind-aided trip).

What do you get from #8 FARMLEIGH HOUSE here? Just about anything we’d expect. This old fella has yet to travel outside of the UK or Ireland, and he’s been wildly competitive in those climes. He did everything but win in that last start of the season when in a four-way photo where they were all separated by inches, and actually beat Hitchens and Balmont Mast, who were not in that photo. His all-weather record is admirable, with all six career tallies over the surface, and he races in close attendance to the pace which likely cannot hurt him here.

Presumably #6 RUSSIAN SOUL goes to the front here, and the question is how fast will they go up front? United Color is the horse for us, albeit tentatively – he had a respectable local leg-stretch at the end of December and now returns to where he was a course and distance winner.



Race 6 - $110,000 Dubai Duty Free Finest Surprise Handicap (Rated 95-105) – 1,600 meters – Tapeta

There seems quite a bit of pace in this race, including #16 NINE REALMS, #9 FAMOUS WARRIOR, #7 REGULATION , and possibly #5 VAN ROONEY. If it materializes as expected, a few from off the pace should get a good tow into the race.

#4 VALIDUS is a two-time winner on all-weather, one of them emerging from a year layoff over this trip. He’s kept decent company while his former connections, led by trainer Luca Cumani, kept the son of Zamindar on the grass. This gelding was purchased for a borderline outrageous $640,000 at the Tattersalls Sales in October (again, a gelding), with the intent to race at the Carnival. The last time a Maktoum (or relative) spent that much for a gelding with the intent to race in Dubai, on Tapeta, over a mile – Moonwalk in Paris winning the Firebreak Stakes (G3) last season. They clearly believe his ability is there on the all-weather, and it surely looked that way replaying his races. It’s a banner sign that he comes first up, and we could see him in the royal blue silks soon enough. He’s the pick.

#15 START RIGHT had two good thirds from off the pace last year, the first of which was on the all-weather and from a very wide draw. He gets blinkers on for the first time and should also get a good pace to run into. He’s dangerous, and could be easily ignored in the market.

#11 ALNASHMY should get a good run from off the pace as well, and defeated the well-fancied Comicality at Meydan in December. He has done most of his racing in some lower company, but has an affinity for the Tapeta and goes third off the nine-month break. He’s a viable longshot chance, especially if the pace is as hot as expected.

It’s good to see #10 INTRIGO has an all-weather win to his credit, but it was in much lesser company. He was behind Validus last season and may have hit the lead too soon in a competitive apprentice handicap at Ascot. He was purchased by Godolphin for just $106,000 at the Tattersalls sale and does not appear with a Maktoum, although with Charlie Appleby. We have to hold off.

Should be no doubting that #12 LEHAAF needs this run, but he is as gritty as the come, and really puts it all on the line. Barely won on Vodacom Durban July day last year, but stuck his neck out in the final strides to do it. This is a test to see if he gets on the Tapeta with any proficiency. You have to wait.

1st - #4 VALIDUS, 2nd - #15 START RIGHT, 3rd - #11 ALNASHMY