The Bob Baffert trained Arrogate arrived in the United Arab Emirates late on Tuesday evening, and had his first gallop over the Meydan oval on Friday after he was released from quarantine. The highest-rated horse in the world, the Juddmonte-owned 4-year-old son of Unbridled’s Song was the facile winner of the $ 12 million Pegasus World Cup in January, and will face a field of 13 others in the $ 10 million Dubai World Cup on March 25.
“All good so far,” Baffert told drf.com from California. The trainer will arrive in Dubai on Sunday. “They said he shipped really well.”
— Michael Smith (@TheMickoSmith) March 17, 2017
Along with Arrogate, Baffert shipped 6-year-old Hoppertunity over for the 2000-meter (about 10 furlongs) contest. Last year, Hoppertunity finished third behind California Chrome.
“Hoppertunity had an easy gallop. He’s been there before, so he knows the ropes,” said Baffert.
The rest of the American contingent for the Dubai World Cup includes Gun Runner, Keen Ice, and Neolithic. Gun Runner had to skip the Pegasus World Cup due to an Equine Herpesvirus outbreak at his winter base of the Fair Grounds, but the 4-year-old son of Candy Ride was impressive when dominating the G3 Razorback at Oaklawn in February.
Keen Ice also contested the 2016 Dubai World Cup, finishing eighth when under the care of trainer Dale Romans. Since Todd Pletcher has taken over the 5-year-old son of Curlin’s conditioning, Keen Ice has been consistently on the board against top-notch competition. He finished third in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, second in the G3 Harlan’s Holiday and fourth in the Pegasus World Cup; the latter two races were arguably a bit short for the late-running Keen Ice, and the Dubai World Cup’s 1 1/4-mile distance should suit him.
Neolithic is a lightly-raced 4-year-old son of Harlan’s Holiday also trained by Todd Pletcher. The colt’s first try in graded stakes company came in the G3 Discovery Stakes in November 2016, in which he finished second. After an allowance win at Gulfstream Park, Neolithic bounded to a third-place finish in the Pegasus World Cup behind Arrogate and Shaman Ghost.
The local competition brings in the top four finishers from Round 3 of the Al Maktoum Challenge: Long River, Special Fighter, Furia Cruzada and Move Up. Long River is a 7-year-old Kentucky-bred son of A.P. Indy. He missed last year’s Dubai World Cup, but was seventh in the 2015 running, and the Al Maktoum Challenge win was his first since January of 2014.
Special Fighter, a 6-year-old by Teofilo, was fourth in last year’s edition of the Dubai World Cup. Furia Cruzada will be the only female in the race, and the 6-year-old Chilean-bred daughter of Newfoundland (Storm Cat) is a multiple Group 1 winner in her home country. Move Up, a 4-year-old son of Dubawi, will be Godolphin’s only representative in the Dubai World Cup.
Japan has sent over a quartet for the headlining event as well: Awardee, Apollo Kentucky, Gold Dream and fan-favorite Lani. Lani, a 4-year-old by Tapit, won the UAE Derby at Meydan last year, and contested the entire Triple Crown series in the U.S., finishing third in the Belmont in his best effort. Awardee, a 7-year-old by Jungle Pocket with Sunday Silence as his damsire, has most recently finished second in a pair of Group 1 races in Japan. Apollo Kentucky, a 5-year-old by Langfuhr, bested Awardee last out in the Group 1 Tokyo Daishoten at the end of December. Gold Dream is probably the country’s best chance; the 4-year-old by Gold Allure (Sunday Silence) kicked off 2017 with a big win in the Group 1 February Stakes.
Rounding out the probables for the Dubai World Cup field is Mubtaahij, second in the event last year and the winner of the UAE Derby the year before. The well-traveled 5-year-old by Dubawi has consistently finished well in top company in the U.S., and his most recent second-place finish in a local handicap should have him primed for a good effort.
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