Godolphin Mile (UAE-G2):
Elusive Warning and Blackat Backitten battled each other to a 1-2 place finish in the G3 Burj Nahaar most recently here over this distance, and I like both here. Of the Americans, Barcola (with Garrett Gomez up) has the best results at this distance, but breaking from post 15 is not ideal for this early speedster who, frankly, hasn’t been racing against the toughest competition of late, and he’ll carry 10 lbs more than his last outing. Diamond Stripes (with Edgar Prado up) looks more probable, but I’m leaning heavily towards a longshot to come in here, Don Renato. In six attempts, he’s never finished out of the money at 1 mile (and in 15 career races, hasn't collected a check only twice); he finished third in his last race, but just ½ length behind the winner Premium Tap, and he’ll carry 8 lbs less and get blinkers. His worst loss was in the G1 Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Cup in February, but that was over 12 furlongs.
UAE Derby (UAE-G2):
Coming in off their last two efforts against one another, Royal Vintage and Honour Devil appear strong here. The filly Cocoa Beach dominated her competition impressively in Chile last year before purchased by Godolphin, and she won the UAE 1000 Guineas and UAE Oaks here in February. Massive Drama has worked well, but is at a disadvantage in age and at the 10f distance, so I’ll bet against him. Longshot possibility: Numaany finished only 1 ½ behind the top two last out.
Dubai Golden Shaheen (UAE-G1):
Seeing as how US breeders prefer speed over stamina, it is apropos that the American contingent is particularly strong in this race. Benny the Bull enters off an impressive victory in the Sunshine Millions Sprint; with Edgar Prado up again, he looks tough. Idiot Proof set a NTR at Monmouth last July 4 in the G3 Jersey Shore BC Cup—and my beloved Southwestern Heat pushed him with blazing early fractions, so I root for Idiot Proof because it flatters Xtra Heat’s little boy; he’s also never finished out of the money at 6f. However, I suspect the real force in this field is expatriate sprinter (now with Godolphin) Diabolical in his third race off the layoff.
Dubai Duty Free (UAE-G1):
Talk about an impossibly tough race to handicap! I’m going with my heart and rooting for PA-bred Lord Admiral who has won two graded race at this distance over this track since January. With the quality in this race, he will go off at huge odds. Never out of the money, Literato has proven he can easily handle the 10f distance, unlike Darjina who has yet to run beyond 1 mile. Well-regarded Creachadoir and Finsceal Beo have never won over 1 mile, but their class may carry them forward. However, I prefer the Japanese colt Admire Aura in the exotics.
Dubai Sheema Classic (UAE-G1):
Both the second (Oracle West) and third place (Youmzain) finishers in last year’s Sheema Classic are back this year, and of the two Youmzain looks better having just missed by a head victory over Dylan Thomas in the G1 Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe. Viva Pataca not only beat last year’s Sheema winner Vengeance of Rain twice last year—in the G1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup and G1 Hong Kong Champions & Chater Cup—but comes into this event off a win in the G1 Hong Kong Gold Cup in February. Doctor Dino, who won the G1 Man O’War at Belmont last fall as well as the G1 Hong Kong Vase in December, is another serious challenger. Looking for a longshot? Personally, I like Mourilyan.
Dubai World Cup (UAE-G1):
No doubt: this is Curlin’s race to lose. I like Jalil, though, whose winning times over this track are equal to Curlin’s efforts at 10f here and back home, and I think you have to consider longshot Gloria de Campeao in the exotics if you like Jalil (he’s finished 2nd in three consecutive races over this very track, so he may have a fitness advantage and be ready for a breakout race). Not totally sold on Vermilion who has won four grade 1 races in a row, but got whooped last year here.
What an exciting day of race! Good luck to all.