By Gene Kershner
Saturday is breakfast at Wimbledon for horse racing fans. I'd call it the Duel in the Desert, but there's really no big duel being touted on the Sheikh's biggest race day of the year. Post Time turns toward the Middle East for a look at Dubai World Cup Day. Typically it's a great day of racing climaxed by the $10 million Dubai World Cup, the richest race of the year. It's oddly similar to NASCAR, whose biggest race of the year, the Daytona 500, is run in mid-February, at the start of the stock car racing season. The race typically attracts the top horses from around the world to go after the large cash prize.
Here's the lineup and a bit of commentary while you munch your morning Cheerios:
Race 2: (9:15 a.m. EST) Al Quoz Sprint. A 5-furlong turf sprint with a purse of $1 million (queue Dr. Evil voice) with 16 runners. It's beat the favorite time as several horses will be going off at juicy odds. The US of A sends over Quick Enough with Rafael Bejarano making the flight overseas to represent. Hard to look past Stradivinsky with Julien Leparoux in the irons, a top notch turf rider. Long shot consideration: Happy Dubai (12-1).
Race 3: (9:50 a.m.) Godolphin Mile. A one-mile route of ground on the Tapeta surface, for a cool $1 million. The race is a Triple Crown reunion of sorts for several horses. The 2009 Derby morning line favorite, who scratched the morning of the big race, I Want Revenge, ships over to try and cash for IEAH Stables and trainer Richard Dutrow. The 2010 Derby front-runner, Conveyance, runs for the second time since the Derby after being claimed and shipped to the desert. The last qualifier and fourth-place finisher in the 2010 Derby, Make Music for Me, also makes the trip with jockey Mike Smith. Godolphin horse Skysurfers (9-2) also looks dangerous in here.
Race 4: (10:25 a.m.) UAE Derby. Run over 1 3/16ths miles on the Tapeta, for $2 million. No serious Derby horse has ever come out of this race. An intriguing horse from Brazil named Xin Xu Lin (4-1) ships in after winning five of seven races, including four Group 1 races. Flying Frankie Dettori gets the mount, which is a clue that the horse is live. U.S. invader Sweet Ducky at 12-1 offers some value and only finished 1 1/2 lengths off Dialed In (on most Derby Dozen lists) in the Holy Bull.
Race 5: (11:10 a.m.) Golden Shaheen. A 6-furlong sprint on the Tapeta surface, being run for $2 million. This race reminds me of my favorite Buffalo restaurant of the '80s called The Shabeen. So, I'll be calling it the Golden Shabeen and toasting the old Irish haunt of yesteryear. Looks like a two-horse duel between Euroears and Kinsale King, but as an Elton John fan how can you not throw Rocket Man into your trifecta?
Race 6: (11:50 a.m.) Dubai Duty Free. Going 1 1/8 miles on the Meydan turf course for $5 million. What Buffalonian doesn't like Duty Free? If Strawberrydaiquiri (30-1) isn't a hunch play here, I don't know what is, plus Johnny Murtagh is in the irons. This has to be too good to be true, no? Bankable (10-1) finished second here last year and is coming off a nice win on the same turf course.
Race 7: (12:30 p.m. Dubai Sheema Classic. 14 runners will run 1 1/2 miles on the turf for $5 million. We'll be boxing Champ Pegasus (9-2), Redwood (8-1) and Bourbon Bay (8-1). Post Time is also a big fan of the well-traveled Chinchon (12-1), who we cashed a nice ticket on last summer in the United Nations at Monmouth.
Race 8: (1:35 p.m.) Dubai World Cup. Run at the Classic 1 1/4-mile distance on the Tapeta for 10 MILLION DOLLARS. From a fan perspective I'd love to see Fly Down win this race, but he never seems to get over the hump. Look for him to hit the board. Has Gio Ponti's day in the sun (literally) finally arrived? This is a race that he is totally capable of winning. Richard's Kid gets a second chance on the Meydan Tapeta and is worth a look at 20-1 or higher. Cape Blanco tries the Tapeta for the first time ever. He is also worth a gander at 10-1. This is a great betting race, so be sure to keep an eye on the tote before wagering on this one.
Enjoy your breakfast from the desert, and let's go cash some tickets!
Gene Kershner is a Buffalo-based turf writer, handicapper and member of the Thoroughbred Bloggers Alliance who blogs at equispace.blogspot.com and tweets @EquiSpace.