2016 Dubai World Cup Preview – California Chrome is race favorite

March 23rd, 2016

The coming Saturday at Noon CST is the highly anticipated Dubai World Cup featuring California Chrome. 1st place pays out $6 Million dollars, 2nd place $2 Million, 3rd place $1 Million and 4th and 5th split the remaining $1 Million. The field also has five other American thoroughbreds: Frosted, Keen Ice, Hoppertunity, Mshawish and Candy Boy. Teletext is a Kentucky-bred horse who never raced in the US. Mubtaahij is an Irish horse who raced in the 2015 Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes finishing 8th and 4th respectively. Meydan racecourse doesn’t allow betting because all forms of gambling are illegal in the UAE. California Chrome was the consensus race favorite for all of the major online gambling websites.

Horses who have competed in previous year’s Dubai World Cups include California Chrome (2nd in 2014), Candy Boy (4th in 2015) and the Japanese horse Hokko Tarumae (5th in 2015, 16th in 2014).

The Irish horse Special Fighter won the 2000 Meter Al Maktoum Round 3 at Meyden back on March 5th with Gun Pit finishing 2nd, Mubtaahij 4th and Keen Ice finishing 7th. Frosted set a track record for the 1900 Meter Al Maktoum Round 2 on February 4th with Special Fighter finishing 6th in that race.

Dubai World Cup – 2000 Meters (approximately 1 1/4 mile) at Meydan Racecourse – Post Time: Saturday March 26 NOON CST

Post Position/Horse/Country/Jockey/Trainer/Rating

  1. Keen Ice (USA) – R. Moore/Romans – 120
  2. Mshawish (USA) – L. Dettori/Pletcher – 115
  3. Gun Pit (AUS) – J. Moreira/Fownes – 115
  4. Mubtaahij (IRE) – C Soumillon/De Kock – 119
  5. Special Fighter (IRE) – F. Jara/Muhairi – 119
  6. Candy Boy (USA) – P. Dobbs/Watson – 115
  7. Vadamos (FR) – V. Cheminaud/Fabre – 113
  8. Hokko Tarumae (JAP) – H. Miyuki/Nishiura – 116
  9. Frosted (USA) – W. Buick/McLaughlin – 120
  10. Hoppertunity (USA) – F. Prat/Baffert – 116
  11. California Chrome (USA) – V. Espinoza/Sherman – 121
  12. Teletext (USA) – S. De Souza/Harabi – 113

Commentary:  This is a difficult race to handicap because big races at Meydan often have surprise winners. That being said, I think this race should come down to California Chrome, Frosted and Special Fighter for the win. Hoppertunity has never finished below 4th in a graded stakes race and is coming off a win in the 1 1/8th mile San Antonio Stakes.

Keen Ice is capable of hitting the board and likes this distance. However, he has had disappointing 6th and 7th place finishes in his last two starts. He finished 4th in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Mshawish is coming off a win in the 1 1/8th mile Donn Handicap back on February 4th and has turf race experience at Meydan. I think he is better suited for races 1 1/8th mile or less.

–Michael

 

California Chrome Wins in Dubai. Updated 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic Watch List

February 26th 2016

California Chrome won his prep race for the Dubai World Cup yesterday with ease (shown below). He produced a final time of 2:04.32 in the Trans Gulf Electromechanical Trophy Handicap carrying 16 1/2 pounds more than the rest of the field. Overall, this was a good performance and his time is about what I expected under the circumstances.

Trainer Art Sherman has California Chrome right where he needs to be for the upcoming Dubai World Cup. However, the competition for this year’s Dubai World Cup will be even stiffer than last year’s. Both Frosted and Keen Ice (two horses in my top 10 Breeders’ Cup Classic watch list below) are in Dubai and are expected to be entered in the world’s richest horse race.


Updated 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic Watch List

1) Beholder  Her 114 Beyer Speed Figure in the TVG Pacific Classic was the 2nd best Beyer Speed Figure in 2015 for distances 1 1/4 mile or greater. A disappointing scratch from the Breeders’ Cup Classic due to a fever and irritated lungs. Her next start will be the Vanity Handicap at Santa Anita Park on June 4th.

Career: 20 Starts 15-3-0-2, Win Pct: 75%, Top 3 Pct: 90%, Top 4 Pct: 100%
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 1:59.772015 Pacific Classic
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 114 – 2015 Pacific Classic
Career Earnings: $4,436,600

2) California Chrome –  He has looked good in two starts thus far in 2016 with a win in the San Pasqual Stakes at Santa Anita on January 9th and his win at Meydan on February 25th discussed above. His next start will be the Dubai World Cup on March 26th.

Career: 20 Starts 11-3-1-1, Win Pct: 55%, Top 3 Pct: 75%, Top 4 Pct: 80%
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:01.57 (calculated) – 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic
Career Beyer Speed Figure: 113 – 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic
Career Earnings: $6,532,650

3) Effinex – A 2nd place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Classic and a win in the Clark Handicap made him one of the top returning handicap division horses in 2016. His next start is rumored to be the Santa Anita Handicap on March 12th if he isn’t shipped to Dubai for the Dubai World Cup.

Career: 20 Starts 7-2-3-4, Win Pct: 35%, Top 3 Pct: 60%, Top 4%: 80%
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:01.11 (calculated) – 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic
Career Best Beyer Speed: 110 – 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic
Career Earnings: $2,112,950

4) Frosted – The Pennsylvania Derby winner finished a disappointing 7th in the Breeders’ Cup Classic but followed up this effort by setting a track record for a 1900 meter race at Meydan with a time of 1:56.67. His next start will be the Al Maktoum Challenge Rd 3 race on March 5th as a prep race for the Dubai World Cup.

Career: 14 Starts 4-6-1-2, Win Pct: 28.5%, Top 3 Pct: 78.6%, Top 4 Pct: 92.9%
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:02.05 (calculated) – 2015 Travers Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 106 – 2015 Pennsylvania Derby
Career Earnings: $2,212,800

5) Keen Ice – The only living horse to have beaten a Triple Crown Champion. He has had two disappointing finishes in his last two starts–as 4th place finish in the Clark Handicap and a 6th place finish in the Donn Handicap. Remember that he likes distance and both of these races were 1 1/8th mile. Like Frosted, his next start will be at Meydan on March 5th in the Al Maktoum Challenge Rd 3 as a prep race for the Dubai World Cup.

Career: 14 Starts 2-1-3-4, Win Pct: 14.3%, Top 3 Pct: 42.9%, Top 4 Pct: 71.4%
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:01.57 – 2015 Travers Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 106 – 2015 Travers Stakes
Career Earnings: $1,819,645

6) Dortmund – He is two-for-two since his comeback after the long layoff after the Kentucky Derby: A win in the Big Bear Stakes in October and Native Diver Handicap in November. He wasn’t training well in January and trainer Bob Baffert decided gave him the month of February off due to a hoof issue (quarter crack suffered prior to Clark Handicap). His return to racing is expected to be late Spring/early Summer.

Career: 10 Starts 8-0-1-1, Win Pct: 80%, Top 3 Pct: 90%, Top 4%: 100%
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:03.50 (calculated) – 2015 Kentucky Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2015: 106 – 2015 Santa Anita Derby
Career Earnings: $1,712,480

7) Texas Red  A fifth place finish in the Travers was disappointing but prior to this race, he earned a 105 Beyer Speed Figure with his win in the Jim Dandy Stakes. So he may have needed time to build up endurance after his long layoff. He won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile as a two year old and was my early Kentucky Derby favorite before his injury. He has been training during the month of February at Santa Anita Park. So I expect a tune-up race at Santa Anita like the 7 furlong San Carlos Stakes on March 12th.

Career: 9 Starts 3-3-1-1, Win Pct: 33.3%, Top 3 Pct: 77.8%, Top 4 Pct: 88.9%
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:02.45 (calculated) – 2015 Travers Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 105 –2015 Travers Stakes
Career Earnings: $1,767,300

8) Firing Line – A promising horse that finished 2nd behind American Pharoah in the Kentucky Derby. He also set a track record in the Sunland Derby. He sat out the rest of 2015 after his 7th place finish in the Preakness Stakes due to foot problems. He is expected to return to racing in late March/early April and is reportedly doing light workouts now. With a year layoff, it will be interesting to see if he bounces back and displays the talent he displayed as a 3 year-old.

Career: 7 Starts 2-4-0-0, Win Pct: 28.6%, Top 3 Pct: 85.7%, Top 4 Pct: 85.7%
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:03.18 (calculated) – 2015 Kentucky Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 104 – 2015 Kentucky Derby
Career Earnings: $974,800

9) Hoppertunity – This Bob Baffert-trained 5 year-old has never finished below 4th in a graded stakes race in his career. That is 15 graded stakes races, so he has always been a quality horse. He earned a career best Beyer Speed Figure of 104 in San Pasqual Stakes in January with his 3rd place finish behind California Chrome. Then in his next start (shown below), he won the San Antonio Handicap and earned another triple-digit Beyer Speed Figure of 100. His next start will be the Santa Anita Handicap March 12th where he will likely be the race favorite.

Career: 18 Starts 5-6-3-3, Win Pct: 27.8%, Top 3 Pct: 77.8%, Top 4 Pct: 94.4%
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:01.33 (calculated) – 2015 TVG Pacific Classic
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 108 – 2016 San Antonio Stakes
Career Earnings: $1,872,650

10) Smooth Roller  – A scratch from the Breeders’ Cup Classic due to a tendon in his left foreleg. His Awesome Again Stakes win was impressive and perhaps a sign of better things to come if he can stay healthy. He has yet to work out in 2016 and there has been no news as to when he will resume training. So he drops to 10th on my list but too talented to disappear from my watch list.

Career: 4 Starts 3-0-0-1, Win Pct: 75%, Top 3 Pct: 75%, Top 4 Pct: 100%
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: N/A
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 111 – 2015 Awesome Again Stakes
Career Earnings: $261,810


Notes: Mshawish really impressed me in the Donn Handicap and is rumored to be a potential entry in the Dubai World Cup but is more likely pegged to be a dirt miler if he isn’t moved back to turf.

–Michael

 

 

California Chrome to race February 25th as prep for Dubai World Cup

February 23rd 2016 (Updated February 25th)

California Chromethe 2014 Horse of the Year–has been in Dubai since January 22nd in preparation for the $10 million Dubai World Cup race on March 26th. This coming Thursday, February 25th, he will be put to test in a handicap race at Meydan as a prep for the richest horse race in the world. California Chrome finished 2nd in last year’s Dubai World Cup to Prince Bishop. The hope is that having more time to adapt and a prep race in Dubai will be the prescription for victory this time around.

Chrome has been working out at Meydan (see video above) and training well according to trainer Art Sherman. He will have his usual jockey, Victor Espinoza, but will have to race with 7.5 kilogram more (16 1/2 pounds) than any other horse in the field. The Post Time will be 9:55 PM Dubai time which is 11:55 AM CST (12:55 PM EST/9:55 AM PST).

Meydan Race 6 for Thursday, Feb. 25 – 2000 meters (about 1 1/4-mile)
Purse: $150,000

Horse (weight in kilograms) – Official Rating 
California Chrome (60) –  121
Think Ahead (52.5) – 105
Storm Belt (52.5) – 105
Hunting Ground (51.5) – 102
Good Contact (50.5) – 101
El Tren (50.5) – 100
Success Story (50.5) – 100
Jeeeraan (50) – 99
Plantagenet (49.5)  – 98
Pit Stop (48) – 95

Overall, I feel that this will be another California Chrome victory despite the weight disadvantage. Just don’t expect any track records being broken like Frosted accomplished at Meydan roughly 3 weeks ago in a 1900 meter race. I think a time in the 2:04 second range would be a decent time. Prince Bishop won the Dubai World Cup last year with a time of 2:03.24 at the same 2000 meter distance beating California Chrome by 2 3/4 lengths (roughly 0.44 seconds)

–Michael