Arrogate, the current “Longines World’s Best Racehorse”, will defend his top rating from the number 9 post against 13 competitors in Saturday’s $10 million Dubai World Cup sponsored by Emirates Airline. Fittingly, he will face what is perhaps the finest group of competitors ever assembled in the 22-year history of the 1-1/4 mile dirt contest at Meydan Racecourse.
“Nine is fine,” said trainer Bob Baffert. “I didn’t want to be number 14 or on the inside. We’ve got a great horse here and hopefully he continues and brings his form over. The main thing is for him to get away cleanly, then it’s up to (jockey) Mike Smith to decide.”
“You need racing luck—he has to break well and everything has to go right,” Baffert continued. “This will be his toughest test. But he’s a big strong horse, and if he shows up and runs his race, he wins it.”
After finishing third in his debut last April, the 4-year-old son of Unbridled’s Song has reeled off six consecutive wins, including a record-setting triumph in the 2016 Travers Stakes followed with victories in the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic and the inaugural $12 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational in January. Taking the winner’s share of the $10 Dubai World Cup would push his career earnings over $17,000,000.
Though a prohibitive favorite, Arrogate may have to earn this one. His American opposition will include stablemate Hoppertunity, himself a 6-time graded stakes winner and last year’s 3rd-place World Cup runner. Trainer Steve Asmussen will saddle his talented 4-year-old colt Gun Runner, who is riding a two-race win streak, including the (GI) Clark Handicap. Keen Ice dealt 2015 Grand Slam winner American Pharoah his lone defeat in the 2015 Travers Stakes and will chase a similar shocker from gate 10. Pegasus World Cup 3rd-place finisher Neolithic will contest the Cup from gate 11. The last two UAE Derby winners, Mubtaahij and Lani, both enjoyed success in the U.S. and will seek to garner more accolades on the Meydan racetrack that launched their international careers from gates 14 and 4 respectively.
Seeking to make history from gate 8 will be Chile’s champion mare Furia Cruzada, who has enjoyed a successful Dubai World Cup Carnival season that includes a victory in the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 2. A win would make her the first female to earn a Dubai World Cup.
In addition to Lani, Japan has sent a quartet of talent that includes Apollo Kentucky (1), Awardee (7) who is a half-brother to Lani, and Gold Dream (3). Incidentally, and on a lighter note, Lani fans will be pleased (or not) to learn the famously self-possessed colt has been on his best civil behavior since arriving in Dubai.
Rounding out the field will be locally trained Long River, winner of the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 3 and Irish galloper Special Fighter (13), second to Long River in that race. Lightly raced Move Up (6), hometown Godolphin’s lone representative in the field and winner of the 2016 International Bosphorus Cup in Turkey, will be seeking to move up amid impressive company.
Dubai World Cup Day is the richest single day in sports with purses totaling $30 million over nine races—eight Thoroughbred and the Al Kayhala Classic for Purebred Arabians.