Dubai World Cup Carnival Notes: Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Juddmonte Reflects on Arrogate’s Dubai World Cup; Zaman and Comicas Ripe and Ready for Appleby; All Eyes on World Approval
• Juddmonte Reflects on Arrogate’s Dubai World Cup
• Zaman and Comicas Ripe and Ready for Appleby
• All Eyes on World Approval
• Freshly Crowned Roy H Regal in Return
• Quick Hits: Forever Unbridled, Hoppertunity, UAE 1000 Guineas, Maktoum Challenge Round 2, Gilt Complex


It has been nearly 11 months since a big silver train of a horse named Arrogate came rolling through the desert of Dubai and wowed the globe with a Dubai World Cup sponsored by Emirates Airline (G1) performance that will be remembered for decades to come. Owned by the iconic Juddmonte Farms, trained by America’s premier classic-race conditioner Bob Baffert and ridden by the leading ‘big-money rider’ Mike Smith, Arrogate was not exactly a rags-to-riches story, but the gray son of Unbridled’s Song’s tale of accomplishing the impossible was no less incredible.

The moment the gates opened in the US $10 million affair, the 4-year-old colt’s chances were all but lost when horses to the outside and inside pinched him back to last. Appearing helplessly beaten from the get-go, he spotted the field several lengths and was placed in an astern position he had never experienced.

But Arrogate would not be denied.

Quickly gaining composure under confident handling, the highest-rated horse in the world gradually inhaled his opponents one-by-one in dramatic, deliberate fashion. The anticipation of the crowd grew with each horse he put away until he finally got to country-mate, subsequent Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) winner and American Horse of the Year Gun Runner… but the showdown lasted mere moments as Arrogate passed his chestnut rival in an instant. Forging to the front, he won comfortably in the end, blowing the proverbial roof off the gargantuan Meydan grandstand and becoming the richest racehorse to ever look through a bridle.

“Our trip to Dubai was a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” said Garrett O’Rourke, manager of Juddmonte’s North American operations. “What Arrogate displayed and accomplished that night seemed beyond equine capability. He not only won from an impossible position, but he ran past Gun Runner, who had the perfect trip and setup.”

While the remainder of Arrogate’s 2017 campaign was tainted by a mysterious form reversal, the significance of his collective career was consecrated that evening in the city of gold.

“I think, in hindsight, he pulled a superhorse performance that night that we may not see repeated in our time,” O’Rourke continued. “As Bob Baffert was quoted saying, we had not seen a performance like that since (1973 American Triple Crown winner) Secretariat.”


Thursday’s Dubai World Cup card appears to be full of possibility for trainer Charlie Appleby and his formidable yard. The Marmoom Stables-based conditioner sends out multiple live shots, all racing in Godolphin blue, but arguably none tougher to beat than the duo of 3-year-old Zaman and in-form older sprinter Comicas.

The former will be making his sophomore bow after a 2-year-old season in which he won twice from a quintet of tries. The son of Dutch Art was second of 10 last out to extremely well-regarded Expert Eye in the Vintage Stakes (G2) on August 1st over 1400m. William Buick was aboard that day and he returns in their resurfacing in Thursday’s US$100,000 Meydan Classic Trial sponsored by over the same grassy distance.

“I’m very pleased with the way he’s training,” Appleby said of the bay colt. “I hope he brings his best form. He ticks all those boxes you like to see and his prep has gone very well.”

Zaman, who was also fourth of 10 in Newmarket’s Superlative Stakes (G2) in July, carries a 107 rating and drew barrier 11. He was a $215,729 2-year-old purchase at Tattersalls Craven Breeze-Up Sale 2017.

An overflow field of 16, plus four reserves, were declared for Thursday’s prep for the 1600m Listed US$150,000 Meydan Classic on March 1st. It is scheduled as the sixth of seven races with a 9:25 p.m. post time.

Appleby rightfully seems adrenalized to see Dubawi Stakes (G3) winner Comicas back in action this weekend in the Al Shindagha Sprint (G3) over the same 1200m on the main track. The Godolphin-owned charge was a hard-closing winner last out and appears poised to improve upon the 2017 form that saw him finish a good second in the Dubai Golden Shaheen sponsored by Gulf News (G1) behind Mind Your Biscuits.

In the Al Shindagha Sprint, the son of Distorted Humor carries 58 kgs (128 lbs), one kilogram more than his six opponents, including 2016 and 2013 Dubai Golden Shaheen winners Muarrab and Reynaldothewizard, who finished second and third in the Dubawi.

“He’s come out of his race well and he’s basically taking on the same horses again,” Appleby said. “He gets a penalty, but I am pleased with the way he’s training. It’s one of those races where you’re definitely disappointed if you’re not in right there again. Our biggest challenge is taking them on with our penalty.

“We were really pleased with how he was going into the Dubawi and confident that he would come forward after winning,” Appleby continued. “After this, we’re looking to Super Saturday. Hopefully that holds his ticket to the Golden Shaheen.”

The Al Shindagha Sprint is scheduled as the third race with a 7:40 p.m. post time.


This weekend, the global racing focus will shift to an unexpected place – Tampa Bay Downs in its namesake West Florida city. On its highly touted turf course, reigning American champion turf horse and Horse of the Year finalist World Approval will make his seasonal debut in what will possibly serve as a prep for the US $6 million Dubai Turf presented by DP World (G1) on March 31st. Said trial will come in the 1700m Tampa Bay Stakes (G3), worth US$175,000 and over the same course that commenced his championship 2017 season.

Trained by Mark Casse, who conditioned the great Tepin to become the first American winner of Royal Ascot’s Queen Anne Stakes (G1) in 2016, the son of Northern Afleet has been working well at Palm Meadows in South Florida for owner Live Oak Plantation, the racing entity of Campbell’s Soup heiress Charlotte Weber. On Saturday, February 3rd, he breezed 800m in a sharp 49 seconds, which was his fifth work since returning from a brief freshening.

World Approval, 11-for-24 lifetime with four G1 victories, was tied for the world’s third-rated miler in the world in 2017. His 123 was tied with Churchill and ranked only one pound below Ribchester (124), whom he defeated in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) in November, and eight below Winx’s 132.

Another Weber-Casse runner, well-bred Holding Gold, is also under consideration for a trip to Dubai. The talented and lightly raced G2 winner was last seen finishing a troubled seventh in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) and is now eying the Al Quoz Sprint presented by Azizi Developments (G1).


Rockingham Ranch and David A. Bernsen’s Roy H came back in proper form and then some when making his 2018 bow in the Palos Verdes Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita last weekend. The son of More Than Ready, fresh off being crowned champion American sprinter of 2017, won for the sixth time in his previous seven tries for trainer Peter Miller and now will possibly have one more start before shipping across the world for the Dubai Golden Shaheen sponsored by Gulf News (G1) on March 31st. Said prep race may come in Triple Bend Stakes (G1) on March 10th over the same course.

“Roy H came into the race just as we hoped and right where we left off last year,” said Brian Trump, manager for Rockingham Ranch. “The short rest did him well and he seems full of energy. The race set up nicely, but what impressed us was how easily he sat off the pace and how well he continues to take instruction from (jockey) Kent (Desormeaux).

“We are leaving all options on the table, including the Triple Bend,” Trump continued. “That being said, we are extremely excited at the chance of winning the Golden Shaheen. Having lost by a nose two years ago (with Jorge Navarro-trained X Y Jet, who is also scheduled to contest in 2018), this races means a lot to us and we have had March 31 on the calendar for months now.”

A late-developing type out of gritty stakes-winning sprint mare Elusive Diva, Roy H has won seven of 18 tries and would be riding a seven-race winning streak into his next start if not for a tough trip in last summer’s Bing Crosby Stakes (G1) at Del Mar. At 122, he is the top-rated dirt sprinter in the world’s best racehorse rankings of 2017.

“Winning would mean so much to me, personally, as it was on the flight home from Dubai in 2016 that (principal) Gary (Hartunian) hired me to work full time for Rockingham Ranch. So, winning this race would be like coming full-circle. Hopefully that dream will come true. We feel very confident of the horses we plan on bringing and we believe we have a good shot.”

In addition to Roy H and X Y Jet in the Dubai Golden Shaheen, other possibles for Dubai from the Rockingham Ranch include Miller-trained Richard’s Boy in the Al Quoz Sprint sponsored by Azizi Developments (G1), a race in which he finished a close-up fifth last year, as well as Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) winner Stormy Liberal in the same race. Another, appropriately named and lightly raced Bobby Abu Dhabi, is under consideration for both the Dubai Golden Shaheen and $1 million Godolphin Mile sponsored by Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum City – District One (G2). Miller trains all three of those candidates.

QUICK HITS: Reigning American champion dirt mare Forever Unbridled had her first breeze back after more than a month’s break from serious track work. The Charles Fipke homebred has the Dubai World Cup squarely on her radar… Hoppertunity was forced to miss last weekend’s San Pasqual Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita Park and will instead prep elsewhere for the Dubai World Cup, though no exact details have been specified by trainer Bob Baffert… Thursday’s #DWCCarnival card includes round two in what could be a budding rivalry between two very talented 3-year-old fillies, Winter Lightning, who will try to emulate her sister Ihtimal and win the UAE 1000 Guineas for trainer Saeed bin Suroor, and well-regarded Doug Watson trainee Rayya… Cosmo Charlie was removed from consideration for the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 2 sponsored by Gulf News on Thursday’s card, leaving a septet, including three G1 winners – Eragon, Thunder Snow and 2017 winner Furia Cruzada – as well as multiple G2 winners Second Summer and Heavy Metal… Singapore local G1 winner Gilt Complex will make his Dubai bow in Thursday’s nightcap, a 2000m handicap in which the highly touted New Zealand-bred must face Godolphin’s tough duo of Carry On Deryck and Elhaame.