Favourites Draw Wide Gates For Dubai World Cup

Country Grammer | DRC


DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES — WinStar Farm, Commonwealth Thoroughbreds and Zedan Racing LLC's Country Grammer (Tonalist) was assigned gate 14 in a field of 15 when he goes out in defense of his title in Saturday's G1 Dubai World Cup Sponsored by Emirates Airline at Meydan Racecourse, with the draw held at the Armani Hotel located in the towering Burj Khalifa in Central Dubai.

The 6-year-old, the final World Cup ride for jockey Frankie Dettori, won the GII San Antonio S. in dominating fashion in late December at Santa Anita and returned to Riyadh last time to reprise his runner-up effort from last year in the $20-million G1 Saudi Cup four weeks back. The task at hand certainly wasn't made any easier by the draw, but connections were taking it all in their stride.

“We'll leave it up to Frankie and he'll get us around there,” said Jimmy Barnes, assistant to trainer Bob Baffert, who owns four World Cup trophies. “The horse came over from Saudi in good shape. He's looking awesome.”

His last three trips to the Gulf region have netted Country Grammer the better part of $14 million and a victory this weekend would make him the richest racehorse of all time.

The horse that beat him in Saudi last time from the rail, Panthalassa (Jpn) (Lord Kanaloa {Jpn}) drew the 15 hole, soliciting a collective gasp among those in attendance. While it is true that the gameplan remains the same regardless of the barrier, significantly, the Saudi Cup is contested over a one-turn nine-furlong trip. Conversely, the 2000-metre World Cup begins near the wire and has an abbreviated run to the first turn. There will be little margin of error for jockey Yutaka Yoshida, though he broke beautifully from gate one last time.

“Even if he misses the jump, he still has to go forward, so it's really no concern,” trainer Yoshito Yahagi said of last year's G1 Dubai Turf dead-heater. “We have only one tactic with him so it doesn't change. He won the Dubai Turf last year so we know he loves it here, all is good.”

With the focus on the defending champ as well as the eight-strong entry from Japan, Algiers (Ire) (Shamardal) feels like a somewhat forgotten horse going into the weekend despite tough-trip blowout victories in the G2 Al Maktoum Challenge R1 and R2. He also drew awkwardly in gate 13.

“It is a battle between some great horses and I hope we can win it,” said Algiers's young owner Hamdan Sultan Ali Alsabouli. “Gate 13 is fine but I was hoping to get five or six.”

Co-trainer Simon Crisford added, “He has drawn wide in both prep runs and so it's no real concern.”

Salute the Soldier (Ger) (Sepoy {Aus}) returned to his best form last time to take out the G1 Al Maktoum Challenge R3 over the World Cup course and distance on Super Saturday for a second time in three years, besting Bendoog (Gun Runner) by two lengths. The pair drew gates four and seven, respectively.

“I might look happy but I'll be happier once the race is over!” said Bahraini conditioner Fawzi Nass. “He is well named, he is an absolute soldier. If we've got any tactics from this gate, I won't be telling you!”

Crown Pride (Jpn) (Reach the Crown {Jpn}) looks to become just the second horse to complete the G2 UAE Derby/World Cup double and figures to be ridden for pace by Australian jockey Damian Lane from a double-digit alley.

“We're not upset at all,” said Masafumi Matsuda, assistant trainer to Koichi Shintani. “After the race, we will be hopeful that stall number 12 will be the lucky one for us. We will go over the tactics with the jockey, but Crown Pride absolutely loves Dubai, so we hope it will be lucky for us.”

The World Cup is the last of the five Group 1s on the program, all of which were drawn Wednesday as well. Post time for the World Cup is 8:35 p.m. Owing to Ramadan, no post-race pyrotechnics or concert will take place. Live coverage of the Dubai World Cup airs on FS2 beginning at noon EST on Saturday. The Dubai World Cup undercard will be live on FS2 from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. EST.

Saturday, Meydan, UAE, post time: 8:35 p.m. ET
1 (13) Algiers (Ire) (Shamardal)
2 (7) Bendoog (Gun Runner)
3 (10) Cafe Pharoah (American Pharoah)
4 (14) Country Grammer (Tonalist)
5 (12) Crown Pride (Jpn) (Reach the Crown {Jpn})
6 (2) Emblem Road (Quality Road)
7 (9) Geoglyph (Jpn) (Drefong)
8 (3) Jun Light Bolt (Jpn) (King Kamehameha {Jpn})
9 (15) Panthalassa (Jpn) (Lord Kanaloa {Jpn})
10 (1) Remorse (Ire) (Dubawi {Ire})
11 (4) Salute the Soldier (Ger) (Sepoy {Aus})
12 (11) Super Corinto (Arg) (Super Saver)
13 (6) T O Keynes (Jpn) (Sinister Minister)
14 (8) Ushba Tesoro (Jpn) (Orfevre {Jpn})
15 (5) Vela Azul (Jpn) (Eishin Flash {Jpn})

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