Friday, May 3, 2024

2000 Guineas & Kentucky Derby 2024

 Ah, the smell of the roses in May... Saturday is epic horse racing day as the 2000 Guineas and Kentucky Derby crown the first stars of the Classic crop on turf and dirt. It could be a historic day for the Coolmore boys as they are very well poised to strike in both Classics with City of Troy and Sierra Leone. But let's get in more depth into those 2 races.

City of Troy starts his sophomore year with the greatest expectations of any horse since Frankel. Superlatives have come and gone elevating the son of Justify to near Frankel-esque levels. His 3 wins last year were visually impressive and the excitement exacerbated by the boastful remarks of connections. If he's trained on, he will crush the race. The vibes from the yard look very positive and it's hard for nay-sayers to find anything to say against the horse; maybe the odds are prohibitive but throw those away and you are looking at a form that is just incomparable to the field. Rosaillon might prove a better sprinter than miler when looking at his pedigree, so I wouldn't go close to him for the win. Notable Speech is from Charlie Appleby's yard and thus cannot be discarded but he's never run on the lawn. I think Task Force might be one apt for the places as he looks an improving Frankel out of a top-class mare.

The Kentucky Derby might be very tactical this year given the prevailing wet conditions. Whoever gets into that lead could go from start to finish and I have Dornoch in mind. He will have no problem winning the dash from gate 1. On pure strength and form, the best horses look to be Sierra Leone, Fierceness and Forever Young. Sierra Leone has the best kicking finish of the field and starting from gate 2 will be a problem for such a strong closer. If he can get a clear trip, he will win but there are chances that he faces a wall entering the straight. Fierceness crushed all in the Florida Derby but since he alternates the good and the bad, it's hard to be fully confident that he will show his A game in Kentucky. I will have no problem tossing and laying him on the day. Then, there is Forever Young, the undefeated UAE Derby winner from Japan. How good is he and how will he like the slop? His Japanese trainer has won 2 Breeders Cup, so why not the Derby? His draw in 10 is ideal for this closer and provided his jockey takes to the Churchill track and have him in a good spot, he can shock this field If there is a non-American horse that will win the Kentucky Derby one day, it will be a Japanese one. Forever Young could be the one.

Win: City of Troy, Sierra Leone/Forever Young

     

Friday, March 29, 2024

Dubai World Cup 2024

 Dubai World Cup day, one of grand days of racing and the real signal to the start of Flat racing as far as I am concerned. With the recent removal of the ban of the South African horses, I am waiting with trepidation of the return of Mike de Kock's horses at Meydan in the near future. The Carnival has missed the presence of such kind of opposition to Charlie Appleby's domination, particularly on the turf. With that, here are my brief views of the Saturday racing card.

Kahayla Classic (Arabian)

Look no further than the 2 Khalediah's in the race. Asfan Al Khalediah is unbeaten in 14 races while Tilal Al Khalediah won nine out of ten outings. It's a toss up between these two for the win and Falaah has Place claims.

Godolphin Mile

Saudi Crown is the standout horse of the field here. He did not quite get the distance of the Saudi Cup and dropping back to a mile should suit him. He will go down as a short price favourite and any reproduction of this form in Saudi Arabia will make him hard to beat. Watch out for Caramel Chip who alternates wins and fourth places and his pattern streak indicates that his next outing should be a win.

Gold Cup

Tower of London won the "prep" race in Saudi Arabia after encountering traffic problems and I just question whether he will have recovered in time for the extra efforts needed in that race.  I like the profile of French raider Sober who has good form on staying races and although he was slightly disappointing on his seasonal return, he is bound to be sharper and fitter for this. He looks good value at double-digit odds.

Al Quoz Sprint

I think this is where Charlie Appleby gets his win of the night with Star of Mystery. The Godolphin filly is taking her task well in sprint races in Meydan and was albeit unlucky to come out second in her last outing. If she has carried her Carnival form, she should be bang at the finish. Her last conqueror, Frost at Dawn has legitimate claims as does Hong Kong raider California Spangle who brings some serious sprinting form from the east.

UAE Derby

Japan has a good record in this race and will have a strong representative in Forever Young, winner of the Saudi Derby. But it would be no surprise if it is countryman George Tesoro that comes up trump. The son of Best Warrior will foray beyond the mile for the first time and could prove a danger if he is left dictating operations up front. Ballydoyle don't go to Dubai on a whim and Henry Adams has shown useful form in his juvenile year and could prove to be anything on the dirt.

Golden Shaheen

Obviously, this will go to either a Japanese or American-trained horse. Out of the pack, I will pick Remake but it will be a competitive race.

Dubai Turf

I don't see Lord North 4-peating in this strong race and I don't know why Real World is even entered in this. Measured Time, Luxembourg and Do Deuce are all legitimate contenders but I think it will be a duel between smart performer Nashwa and top-class Voyage Bubble from Hong Kong. There must be confidence in the Gosden camp to have brought the Frankel mare and she should play a leading role despite a terrible draw.

Scheema Classic

The best race of the night by a mile. I know, Auguste Rodin is in there but he can throw a bad one as we all know. Look no further than Liberty Island. She is a Triple Crown winner from Japan and only found the incomparable Equinox too good in her last race. With the latter sadly retired, she is the best horse in Japan, period. She is so good, easily the punt of the night despite the amazing competition.

World Cup

Much is said of Ushba Tesoro and Senor Buscador but I think their duel in Saudi will have taken a bit from them. That is to say that they will not be able to repeat their performance in this short time frame. It think it will go between Newgate and Derma Sotogake with my preference to the Japanese raider who won the UAE Derby last year and has proven resilient and never outclassed every time he's been popped the question.