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Eleven Set for 26th Dubai World Cup

By Latt Staff/Press Release

For a race in the middle of the Arabian desert, the Dubai World Cup (GI) has always managed to draw fairly full fields of the world’s top handicap stars and this year is no different as 11 are set to race under the lights of Meydan Racecourse for the winner’s share of the $12 million purse.

Life is Good. Photo: Dubai Racing Club

Since the first Dubai World Cup 26 years ago the “home team” has had the most success, sending out e11 winners overall, including the last three in a row, but American horses have still shown their ability to ship and win—Cigar won the very first running in 1996, but Silver Charm, Captain Steve, Pleasantly Perfect, Invasor, Curlin, Well Armed, California Chrome and Arrogate followed to take home top honors in the years since. The connections of three American-based runners will look to add to that list this year and take down the lion’s share of the purse.

It’s been typically hot in Dubai all week with the daytime temperatures reaching into the upper 90s, but Saturday is expected to be cooler with temps dipping into the mid-80s, meaning that by post time of  12:50 p.m. ET, temperatures will have dipped to a more comfortable level of low to mid-70s.

There’s no doubt that Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile and Pegasus World Cup winner Life Is Good is the standout, but he’s just one of a galaxy of stars lining up in the the Dubai World Cup, sponsored by Emirates Airline. Six Group or Grade 1 winners representing six different countries will be part of the standout field.

 With a five from six career record, Life Is Good possesses a fearsome profile, but is yet to tackle this 2000metre distance, something trainer Todd Pletcher has been working on.

“I’m very happy with him, his weight looks good, I think he handled the ship in perfectly,” Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher said. “The Pegasus was his first time at a mile and an eighth and he handled that well, so we’ve focused on just some good, stamina-building breezes and strong gallop outs. He does everything so willingly; he likes doing it, enjoys his job, and all his work has been super good.”

Life Is Good and jockey Irad Ortiz, who drew the inside, will likely make the others try to chase him down.

One who has no concerns about the distance is Hot Rod Charlie, who warmed up for this assignment with a comfortable win over the Maktoum Challenge Round 2 (G2) last month.

“He’s ready,” Leandro Mora, assistant to trainer Doug O’Neill, said. “This horse, I really think he can run all day; he never seems to get tired. Life Is Good is a good horse, but we’re here and we know he likes the track.”

Hot Rod Charlie. Photo: Anika Miskar

The U.S. challenge in the race is further bolstered by the Bob Baffert-trained Country Grammer, an excellent second off the layoff in the Saudi Cup last time; and Steve Asmussen’s Country Bourbon, who was third in Riyadh.

Just behind those two in fifth, was Aero Trem, who will represent Uruguay-based Brazilian trainer Antonio Cintra. The winner of South America’s biggest race, the Gran Premio Latinoamericano (GI), in October, his trainer is confident that he has him spot on for Saturday.

“He’s ready,” Cintra said. “His run in Saudi was amazing, to finish fifth, with a strong finish – it felt like we won! We just breezed him once since then and we hope he will run another big race.”

Adding further international flair to the line-up are last year’s second and third, Chuwa Wizard, from Japan for trainer Ryuji Okubo; and Magny Cours, trained in France by Andre Fabre.

Three represent home team, including Real World, who will aim to win trainer Saeed Bin Suroor a remarkable tenth World Cup; Hypothetical, for trainer Salem Bin Ghadayer; and Remorse, for Bhupat Seemar.

Hypothetical, winner of the main local prep, G1 Maktoum Challenge Round 3 (GI), has drawn wide in 10, which his trainer feels is far from ideal. 

“We would rather have drawn inside, but what can you do? That’s racing,” Bin Ghadayer said. “I’m so happy with Hypothetical. He’s always been a good horse for us, he was fourth in the race last year and I know he will run a good race.”

Multiple Group 1-winning trainer William Haggas, second in the 2014 World Cup with Mukhadram, completes the line-up with Grocer Jack, a Group 3 winner in Germany who will race on dirt for the first time here. 

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