The Bob Baffert trained Arrogate is settling in nicely in Dubai and will be the heavy favorite for the $10 million Dubai World Cup (G1) on Saturday night at Meydan Race Course.
Bovada has the colt listed as the 1-3 favorite in early Dubai World Cup wagering despite having to face up to 13 foes in the world’s second richest race.
The colt makes his first start since his impressive win in the inaugural running of the $12 million Pegasus World Cup (G1) at Gulfstream Park.
Arrogate (USA) – Powered down the Meydan stretch before dawn in what trainer Bob Baffert said was an approximate 800m breeze, going at an easy clip under exercise rider Dana Barnes before exiting the track in big, springing strides and with his ears pricked.
Baffert said he did not have a stopwatch on the colt but probably went in about 50 seconds for the distance, just enough of a move to sharpen him for Saturday.
“He’s handling everything really well,” Baffert said of how Arrogate has responded to the long journey from his base in California and the adjustment to the Meydan quarantine stabling and the racetrack surface.
“He looks good to me.” Baffert said Arrogate will walk in the stable area on Tuesday morning and return to train on the main track on Wednesday.
While the only trainer not employed by Godolphin to win more than one Dubai World Cup, Baffert is keen to win more. “I’ve never won it here (at Meydan), and it’s totally different. I really liked that old track (Nad Al Sheba), but this is totally different (with) tighter turns. You need a lot of racing luck to get away from the gate. It becomes a jockey’s race.
“And you never know until they start turning for home – is the horse going to show up? As a trainer, you’re just hoping that at the quarter pole, they’re moving.”
Baffert said all the signs are positive but he pointed out that there is added pressure. “Because I brought this great horse over here and I don’t want to mess it up. It’s still a horse race, and when it’s a major race, I go into it focused. I don’t take anything for granted.
He also made a special point of saying it is a “greatest honour — like being inducted into an international hall of fame” to be associated with Juddmonte Farms owner Prince Khalid Abdullah.
“He’s been a pleasure to work with,” Baffert said. “I can’t believe they had a horse like Frankel, the best horse they’ve ever seen in Europe, and then they get a horse like Arrogate. (Prince Khalid) is doing something right. I’m just glad to be part of it. And I’m counting on Arrogate to get it done” and win the Dubai World Cup.
Hoppertunity (USA) – Arrived at the main track just after 7am. He picked up a gallop on the backstretch and accelerated around the far turn and down the stretch, going about 800m to tune up for Saturday’s race.
“He felt great,” exercise rider Dana Barnes said after the brief drill.
“Hoppertunity has been training better than he ever has, and he really loves it here,” said trainer Bob Baffert, while comparing the six-year-old horse to the arcade game character Pac-Man. “He just keeps coming and gobbling up ground and getting checks, and you never know—one day he could get there (to win).”
Keen Ice (USA)—Now trained by Todd Pletcher, who sent the five-year-old out on Monday to gallop approximately 2200m under exercise rider Nick Bush. Pletcher’s assistant Ginny DePasquale said: “We’re very pleased with him,” she said. “Mentally, he’s completely changed.”
Neolithic (USA) – Galloped about 2200m and continued to appear alert and eager in his exercise.
“He’s been on his toes ever since he arrived,” said Ginny DePasquale, assistant to trainer Todd Pletcher. “It seems like he’s adapted unbelievably well.” DePasquale said all three of Pletcher’s trainees that have traveled to the UAE for the Dubai World Cup Carnival will continue to gallop during the week and will not have any speed drills.
Gun Runner (USA) – Breezed 800m in 49.4 seconds on Monday morning just after 5am at Meydan. Exercise rider Carlos Rosas was aboard and assistant trainer Scott Blasi accompanied the pair to and from the racetrack aboard the stable pony.
Rosas, who exercised 2008 Dubai World Cup winner Curlin (USA) for trainer Steve Asmussen, said: “He’s little but he’s all heart. He can really run.”
Special Fighter (IRE) – Jockey Fernando Jara said: “Obviously he was fourth in the race last year, having won the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 3 on Super Saturday, but did not run again until that same race this year after a slightly troubled preparation.
“He will have needed that run quite badly so we had to be delighted he was second and he is certainly fitter now. It is a tough race, as you would expect, but it is great to be involved with a horse who has a chance of a big run.”
Furia Cruzada (CHI) – Trainer Erwan Charpy said: “We are delighted to be running in the Dubai World Cup and it is very rare for a filly or mare to do so but she is a very good performer who deserves her chance as she has done nothing wrong.
“She won the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 2 on her debut for us and was a bit unlucky on Super Saturday but was making up ground at the line and should run a big race.
“The likes of Arrogate will obviously be hard to beat but we are very pleased with her.”
Mubtaahij (IRE) – Trainer Mike de Kock said: “He won the UAE Derby two years ago and was second in the big race itself last year so conditions are clearly not an issue.
“We were very pleased with his comeback run when he was giving a lot of weight to some very good horses. Ideally we would have preferred two runs before Saturday but it was not feasible the way things panned out.
“His preparation at home has been very good and we are expecting another big run but Arrogate is obviously a genuine contender and the one we all have to beat.”
Long River (USA) – Trainer Salem bin Ghadayer said: “We always knew he had the ability to win a big race so we were not overly surprised he won the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 3 on Super Saturday.
“He remains in great form but we know Saturday is going to be a much bigger test.”
Gold Dream (JPN) – The Group 1 February Stakes winner had a light work over Meydan’s dirt course early Monday morning in preparation under groom Hiroya Kinoshita, who said: “He was a little tired when he arrived but as of today he is back to normal. He cantered a lap and a half today and will gallop on Wednesday.”