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Dubai World Cup Sponsored By Emirates Airline Notes, Wednesday March 28, 2018

Awardee – The Japanese runner Awardee went 800m on the dirt track at Meydan with jockey Yutaka Take on board.

“He moved nicely” Take said. “It was a good workout this morning. He looks well and he seems to have a good appetite. He runs more smoothly on the left-handed course. I have nothing to worry about his condition at the moment. He won’t be a top pick, but should have a chance and I look forward to riding him on Saturday. He was a bit nervous when he was trapped on the rail last time, so I want to draw middle.”

Forever Unbridled – Charles Fipke’s champion Forever Unbridled was “right on the money” according to her trainer Dallas Stewart after watching his champion mare gallop 2400m on Wednesday morning under longtime exercise rider Pedro Velez.

Forever Unbridled has been pointing towards the Dubai World Cup since January and has impressed her connections with how well she has been training and handling the long-distance travel from New Orleans, LA to Dubai.

“She’s handled the trip as good as any horse that I’ve been around” Stewart said. “She’s won at eight different racetracks, but there are a lot of components that go into this. They van over here on race day because it’s such a long walk from the barn, the race is at night. Just a lot of components.

“But, she thrives on getting ready for a race. The harder we pushed her in New Orleans this winter, the better she got. After the Breeders’ Cup we just jogged her. We gave her plenty of time since that race, but she’s never been out of training. She’s galloped every day. If she gets a day off, she freaks out. She wants to be on the track. I didn’t want to work her 1200m in January for a race in March, but I looked at my charts and made a schedule. She’s had some just amazing works coming into the race.

“If I didn’t think she was training good, I wouldn’t run. I’d just take her back home. She’s done great since she’s been here.”

Furia Cruzada – Erwan Charpy continued with his tactic of keeping his highly-strung mare away from the media glare on the track and exercised her closer to his stable. “She went out for another canter and went about 2200m” Charpy said.

“She was nice and relaxed and had a good long walk afterwards. She’s done everything she needs to now, and might just have another light canter tomorrow.”

Gunnevera – Trainer Antonio Sano sent his 4-year-old colt to the Meydan dirt track on Wednesday at 5am, rather than the 7am slot he had been using for track work, so that the big chestnut could get a feel for conditions under the spotlights, similar to what he will see on race night.

Both Sano and Gunnevera indicated that the experience was positive. More keen than he had been in previous days, Gunnevera jumped playfully into an about 2400m gallop, lengthening his stride and going the last 600m at a faster clip under the guidance of exercise rider Victor O’Farell.

“He wanted to keep going” Sano said. “He went very, very well. He likes this track and he handled the lights really well. He came back strong, breathing normally.

“My horse is in good condition, and looking ahead, I need him to close strongly in the last part of the race. Now, I will pray” Sano said, smiling. “This race is very important to me, my wife, my family and my whole team.”

Sano plans to again send Gunnevera out for his morning exercise at 5am on Thursday.

North America – All’s fine was the message from Zabeel Stables on Wednesday morning, as trainer Satish Seemar put the finishing touches to a five-strong team, led by North America in the Dubai World Cup, that he describes as “the best I’ve ever had to represent us on the night.”

Seemar and his stable jockey, former UAE champion Richard Mullen, have gone under the radar in their two previous attempts to land the biggest prize on the card. Both Richard’s Kid, 12th to Victoire Pisa in 2011, and Surfer, next-to-last in the 16-horse field led by African Story three years later, were big outsiders.

North America comes into a different category, after he eclipsed California Chrome’s record time for the Cup distance when slamming Thunder Snow on Super Saturday.

“It’s a dream for me that he is peaking at the right time” Seemar said. “He’s as fit as he can be, and if he’s at his best, I feel he is as good as any horse in the field.”

Pavel – Reddam Racing LLC’s Pavel impressed again on Wednesday morning. Conditioned by Doug O’Neill, the Grade 3 winning son of Creative Cause is training at Meydan under the capable tutelage of assistant Leandro Mora.

Pavel, a compact grey, took to the Meydan dirt track just after 7am under exercise rider Amir Cedeno and after enjoying a quiet moment to stand in the chute, soon powered through a strong canter.

“We asked him to go a little more strongly down the lane” Mora said.

The strong-minded Pavel worked in draw reins, which is a practice that began early on in his training at Santa Anita.

“He got to loving it. If we try it on a horse and he fights it too much, we just take it off” Mora said. “That’s not American style, but we do it with two or three horses and it works. This guy loves it. He wants to be in the bit.”

Following his morning track work, Pavel schooled at the gate in professional manner.

“He was a sweetheart. I didn’t really want to take him as he is brilliant in the gate, but he did what I expected which was go right in, stay, and then we took him out” Mora said. “Our horses, we teach them how to go to the gate so many times when they are babies, that by the time they go to the races that’s their second house.”

Mario Gutierrez, who piloted I’ll Have Another and Nyquist to Grade 1 Kentucky Derby scores for these connections, will have the call in the Dubai World Cup. Pavel will train again on Thursday and Friday morning over the dirt track, but Gutierrez will not hop aboard the colt until the money is on the line.

“We have my main man here (Cedeno), this is a family connection. Mario rides every one of our owner’s horses. He knows every single horse” Mora said.

Talismatic – His bold face and white stockings mean that the French trained Talismanic is instantly recognisable and over the past few days, he has acquired his very own fan club who eagerly follow his progress.

At 7am he came out onto the dirt track at the Meydan racecourse, accompanied by stable companion Rosa Imperial. Both horses did a slow canter over about 1400m and were watched by Lisa-Jane Graffard, the Godolphin representative.

“They cantered on the main track this morning and all appear very well in themselves” she said.

Thunder Snow – As the countdown continues to the Dubai World Cup, Saeed bin Suroor seems increasingly pleased with his Thunder Snow, who cantered 2000m on the Al Quoz all-weather surface on Wednesday morning.

“He went very nicely and is in great form” Bin Suroor said. “He did his final serious gallop, over 1400m, on Sunday and has come out of that particularly well.”

West Coast/Mubtaahij – Though he may be getting a bit long in the tooth, the well-traveled Mubtaahij is still skillful.

“Mubtaahij is getting older, but he is still very professional” Bob Baffert said of the six-year-old horse he trains for Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa al Maktoum.

Mubtaahij will be making his 23rd start and 11th at Meydan and Victor Espinoza, who won the 2016 Dubai World Cup aboard California Chrome will be in the irons for the first time.

“I wanted to use somebody on him who’s been here before. He’s very good under pressure. If you’ve been through the Triple Crown like Victor has with American Pharoah, you can handle pressure. At the end of the day, if the horse isn’t running it doesn’t matter who’s on him. These are not jockey races” Baffert said.

Both Mubtaahij and West Coast, the favorite for this race, remained in the stable area and were walked around the barn Wednesday morning. Baffert said that on Thursday they will both gallop on the main track and be taken to stand in the gate, and they will gallop again Friday.

As for the competition on race day, Baffert said that he knows the American horses but really hasn't looked at the rest of the international field and is unfamiliar with their forms.

“I just worry about my own horses. You don't know if they're going to show up until the running starts” he said.