Dabster in, Gift Box out of Dubai World Cup's prospective field

Dubai Racing Club
March 14, 2019 09:18am
Dabster in, Gift Box out of Dubai World Cup's prospective field
Photo: Benoit
With shipping protocols and other such logistics coming into play, the world’s richest race, the Dubai World Cup (G1), continues to take shape.

One such candidate who has arguably the most enviable connections of any is
 Dabster, whose trainer Bob Baffert has three victories in the 1 1/4-mile race and was second last year with favorite West Coast. Owned by Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum, the son of Curlin carries the same yellow and blue silks as no less than three Dubai World Cup runner-ups -- Mubtaahij, Lizard's Desire and Asiatic Boy -- the last of whom was coincidentally second to his sire in 2008.

The $1 million Fasig-Tipton purchase was nearly joined by stablemate McKinzie
as Dubai-bound, but his conditioner decided against it after they worked on Sunday.

“Dabster is definitely going to the Dubai World Cup,” Baffert said. “McKinzie was on the fence. I think they’re going to re-card the (Santa Anita Handicap). Everything went really smooth (with the works). The track was in pristine shape.”

A consistent performer, Dabster is similar in style to another Baffert pupil who took home a nice chunk of the pot a few years ago, Hoppertunity, third in 2016
. Dabster, however, has more to prove. He has not won a graded race, but has two stakes wins to his credit against lesser company. Facing stiff class in recent months, he has held his own, including a head loss to Breeders’ Cup winner Battle of Midway, who was expected to be one of the top Dubai World Cup contenders until an ill-fated workout.

In 13 starts, Dabster has five victories and has proven effective at various distances, with a runner-up in the Marathon (G2) last fall at Churchill Downs. Two starts ago, he was a fine third in the San Antonio Stakes (G2) behind
 Gift Box and Battle of Midway. The former, trained by John Sadler, was being pointed to the Dubai World Cup until this week.

“He just needs more time,” Sadler said. “When I ship out, I ship to win, so I wasn’t going to go just to go. His training was interrupted by the weather, so, unfortunately, we won’t make it to Dubai.”

Following the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 3 (G1) on
 Super Saturday at Meydan, the local horses are now sorted for the big day, topped by defending champion Thunder Snow — a respectable runner-up — and runaway winner Capezzano, whose dominance draped the recently completed 2019 Dubai World Cup Carnival.

They were followed home by South Korean invader
 Dolkong, whose performance was doubly impressive, as it came only nine days after a romp in the Curlin Handicap over the same 2,000 meters. Still, all paths lead through the behemoth that is North America, who skipped Round 3 — a race he dominated in 2018 — to come into the March 30 World Cup a fresh horse. Fringe players who would likely hope to get into the big dance are New Trails and Gronkowski (both unplaced in Round 3), who ran fairly well, but must improve.

Other American horses under Dubai World Cup consideration are Audible, Gunnevera, Seeking the Soul and Yoshida.


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