Dubai World Cup 2017: Runner Guide
We run the rule over all 14 runners for the 2017 Dubai World Cup at Meydan on Saturday.
1. Apollo Kentucky (Kenji Yamauchi, Japan)
5-y-o, one of four runners for Japan and won 9 of 18 starts there, mostly at a local level on dirt. Improved to win a 10f Grade 1 at Ohi last time, beating Awardee by 1½ lengths. Handy draw in stall 1, though has a fair bit to find against the US runners.
2. Long River (S. bin Ghadayer, UAE)
Group 1-placed when trained in the US in 2014 for Kiaran McLaughlin, has been all-or-nothing for this yard, contesting all 3 rounds of the Al Maktoum Challenge this year, runner-up on the first occasion, before tailed off in Round 2, then bouncing back to win the Group 1 contest over C&D on Super Saturday. Likes to go forward, so draw helps.
3. Gold Dream (Osamu Hirata, Japan)
Least exposed of the runners from his country, won 5 of 9 starts and unplaced just once. Improved to land Grade 1 February Stakes over 1m on seasonal reappearance at Tokyo last mont, but another step forward required here.
4. Lani (Mikio Matsunaga, Japan)
Talented but temperamental, won UAE Derby here last year (weak form admittedly), before contesting the US Triple Crown, notably finishing third in the Belmont. Something to prove after not being at best in Japan since, while ran very moody race when well held behind Long River here last time.
5. Gun Runner (Steven M. Asmussen, USA)
High-class US runner, usually goes forward and progressed throughout last year, duly making every yard on his last 2 starts, namely in the Grade 1 Clark Handicap before returning after 3-month absence to land a Grade 3 at Oaklawn last month at short odds. Good draw and solid place claims even if this trip is a far as he'd want to go.
6. Move Up (Saeed bin Suroor)
Sole Godolphin runner in the race, won 4 of 8 starts on turf, including Turkish Group 2 and Cumberland Lodge Stakes at Ascot in September. Showed aptitude for dirt when fourth to Long River in Al Maktoum Challenge R3 on return earlier this month, shaping as if needing the run after 5 months off. Has reportedly got no right eye and hung left on that occasion.
7. Awardee (Mikio Matsunaga, Japan)
Narrowly the highest rated of the Japanese runners. Has built up fine record over the past 2 years at home, winning 7 of his last 10 starts, mostly at listed/graded level. Placed all other occasions, including runner-up last twice in Grade 1's, chasing home Apollo Kentucky last month over 10f at Ohi.
8. Furia Cruzada (E. Charpy, UAE)
Multiple Grade 1 winner in Argentina before transferred to John Gosden, where largely competitive in Group company on turf. Looked better than ever when narrowly winning Al Maktoum Challenge R2 on UAE debut over 9.5f early last month, before confirming that effort when third in R3 of the series to Long River last time. Likely to come up short.
9. Arrogate (Bob Baffert, USA)
The current best horse in the world and the highest rated horse to ever race in Dubai. Beaten on debut at Los Alamitos less than a year ago, but won all 6 starts since, bursting onto the scene when a 13-length winner of the Travers at Saratoga in August. Improved on that top-class effort when beating California Chrome in the Breeders' Cup Classic (pair well clear), before easy winner of the current world's richest race The Pegasus World Cup. Clear one to beat.
10. Keen Ice (Todd A. Pletcher, USA)
Famously the only horse to beat US Triple Crown winner in 2015, when striking late off strong pace to land the Travers. Never challenged when eighth in this last year and just been ticking over since, beaten over 11 lengths by Arrogate in the Pegasus Would Cup last time.
11. Neolithic (Todd A. Pletcher, USA)
Lightly-raced and showed improved form recently, produced a smart effort when a wide-margin winner of a conditions race at Gulfstream Park in December. Beaten just over 8 lengths by Arrogate in the Pegasus World Cup at same track last time, while Qatar Racing have bought a share in him subsequently. Stamina a potential concern.
12. Hoppertunity (Bob Baffert, USA)
Popular 6-y-o, hardly ever runs a bad race and running-on third in this race behind California Chrome 12 months ago. Won twice since, namely Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont in October and Grade 2 San Antonio Stakes at Santa Anita on latest start last month. Rock solid place claims once more.
13. Special Fighter (Maria Ritchie, UAE)
Finest moment when winning Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge R3 last March, before fine fourth in this race. Missed large part of this season, but looked to retain all ability when second to Long River on return in same race last time. Capable of fighting out minor honours, but likes to go forward and wide draw makes things a lot tougher for him.
14. Mubtaahij (M. F. de Kock, South Africa)
Demolished his UAE Derby field 2 years ago and looked as good as ever when runner-up to California Chrome in this 12 months ago, benefiting from a fine ground-saving ride. Competitive in US for Kiaran McLaughlin over the summer before runner-up off big weight in C&D listed handicap on first start back with Mike De Kock last month. Another with frame claims on form, but very much hindered by the draw.
Timeform Dubai World Cup 1-2-3
3. Gun Runner
Timeform Analyst's Verdict:
This is all about ARROGATE, who has built into an exceptional performer in a very short space of time. This is his first run out of the US, but he will need to underperform significantly if he's to be beaten, a win here will remarkably already make him the highest earning horse of all time. Stablemate Hoppertunity was third in this last year and can chase him home, with Gun Runner also taken to book end the places for US-based runners.
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