2018 Dubai World Cup Picks

As usual, I was last minute typing this up, but here are my picks for the rest of the Dubai World Cup card today:

UAE Derby

The two favorites look tough again in here – Gold Town won both the UAE 2000 Guineas Trial and the Guineas itself, the latter by over ten lengths, and his main competition seems to be from Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf winner Mendelssohn, who has won both starts since over synthetic at Dundalk. His breeding suggests he should handle the dirt fine, and I think he has a lot of natural ability as well. UAE Oaks winner Rayya will take on the colts in this race, and she’s never been worse than second in four lifetime starts. The UAE Oaks is at this distance, so she has already proven her ability to stay 1 3/16 miles. The American Reride is interesting to me in this spot. Winner of the Mine That Bird Derby for Steve Assmussen in his last start, his only career loss was in the G2 Kentucky Jockey Club at age two. The son of Candy Ride ran a 91 Beyer in that race, defeating Runaway Ghost, who would return to win the Sunland Derby in his following start. Being out of a Tapit mare, I think he will be suited to the distance. Yulong Warrior is another worth mentioning, having won the 1 3/16 mile Al Bastakiya at Meydan on March 10th by 11 1/2 lengths.


$2 Win #4 Mendelssohn

$1 Exacta Box #1 Rayya / #4 Mendelssohn / #5 Gold Town

$2 Show #3 Reride

Al Quoz Sprint

Okay, I may be completely missing something, and he could prove me wrong and win impressively, but I do not like 4-5 morning line favorite Blue Point in this race. I understand why he is favored, but I do not think he deserves such heavy favoritism, and I think that creates a lot of potential value in this race. I love Holding Gold in this race. The last time he ran six furlongs, he was beaten a length by Disco Partner in that horse’s world record-setting Jaipur at Belmont Park. Holding Gold himself ran sub-1:06 in that race, despite placing third, and no other horse in this race has broken the 1:08 barrier  (at least within the last five races shown on my PPs). Though he was 7th in the Breeders Cup Turf Sprint and 6th in the Turf Monster at Parx, he was beaten less than two lengths in both of those races and didn’t disgrace himself. The Mark Casse trainee is coming off a win in a stakes at Fair Grounds, which should set him up well for this. Jungle Cat would be my second pick, and is the horse to beat in my opinion. He soundly defeated track record holder Ertijaal in the Nad Al Sheba Turf Sprint on March 10th, and prior to that he was victorious in the G2 Al Fahidi Fort. Librisia Breeze was last seen in October winning the G1 British Champions Sprint Stakes at Ascot. He was beaten only 2 1/4 lengths in the G1 Diamond Jubilee behind The Tin Man last June off an eight month layoff, so I don’t think the five months since his last race will be a problem. I believe that Conquest Tsunami is the quickest horse in the race, and he is my preference of the three Peter Miller trainees in here, but I’m not sure he’s good enough to win this. Also worth mentioning is Godolphin’s third entrant, Baccarat, who was 3 1/2 lengths behind Jungle Cat last time but prior to that he was seen winning at the distance earlier in the meet, and all three races the 9-year-old has run this year have been good.

$2 Win #6 Holding Gold

$1 Exacta Box #3 Librisia Breeze / #6 Holding Gold / #10 Jungle Cat

$2 Show #6 Holding Gold

Dubai Golden Shaheen

This race is being billed as a showdown between Americans X Y Jet, who ran admirably in this race as the favorite in 2016 and seems to have come back as good as ever after being off for over a year, and Breeders Cup Sprint winner Roy H. X Y Jet has won all three races since the layoff, and while he hasn’t defeated much in those races, he’s done it stylishly. However, I’ll give the edge to the Breeders Cup winner, who has since won the Palos Verdes in preparation for this race. X Y Jet should go to the lead, and I don’t think Roy H will let him get too far away. Mind Your Biscuits hasn’t won since the July 8th Belmont Sprint, but he is the defending champion in this race and he was third behind Roy H in the Breeders Cup. He’s never been off the board in six starts at six furlongs, and he ran big behind Sharp Azteca in the Cigar Mile two starts back, where he posted a career-best 107 Beyer. His most recent race, a loss in allowance company to Conquest Windycity, is a bit of a concern, but I trust that Chad Summers will have him ready to go this time. Also worth a shoutout is the 12-year-old veteran Reynaldothewizard, who has raced twice since being well-beaten by Mind Your Biscuits in this race last year, finished third in both of those races. He’s a classy horse and while I’m not sure he’s up to defeating the top two in here, I think he has every chance to hit the board at a big price.


$2 Win #6 Roy H

$1 Exacta Box #1 Mind Your Biscuits / #2 X Y Jet / #6 Roy H

$2 Show #3 Reynaldothewizard

Dubai Turf

Benbatl is favored on the morning line in this race, and he makes a lot of sense off three good races at the meet this year – wins in the G3 Singspiel Stakes and G2 Al Rashidiya, and a narrow defeat to Blair House in the Jebel Hatta last time. He is the horse to beat and a deserving favorite, but I like Japan’s Neorealism on top. If you toss his poor effort in the Tenno Show behind Kitasan Black, he looks to be coming into this race in similar form to he was prior to his victory in the G2 Nakayama Kinen last February. He’s 3-for-6 at the distance and I think he makes a good alternative to the favorite. Real Steel, also based in Japan, was beaten 4 1/2 lengths to Neorealism in the aforementioned Nakayama Kinen, but if he were to repeat his effort in the Mainichi Okan last October, where he ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:45.6, he could have a shot here. I like him cutting back from the 1 1/4 miles of the Tenno Sho – he’s only been off the board once at 1 1/8 miles in seven tries. Blair House, who defeated the favorite in the Jebel Hatta, is in great form recently, not finishing worse than second in four races this year.


$2 Win #2 Neorealism

$1 Exacta Box #2 Neorealism / #5 Benbatl / #15 Blair House

$2 Show #8 Real Steel

Dubai Sheema Classic

I think this is Godolphin’s best chance to get a win on Dubai World Cup night, as Cloth of Stars looks awfully tough here. The runner-up in the 2017 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe comes into this race off a second-place finish to BC Turf winner Talismanic on March 6th in the Prix Darshaan. He’s only finished off the board once in 14 starts, and really looks like he’ll be hard to beat. However, I do think that there are two main possible upsetters in Rey de Oro and Hawkbill.  Rey de Oro is a G1 winner at 1 1/2 miles, and seems to be a very consistent performer at the highest levels of racing in Japan. He is coming off a defeat as the odds-on favorite in the Kyoto Kinen on February 11th, but I’m willing to give him another chance. Hawkbill, meanwhile, won the G2 Dubai City of Gold Stakes in his prep for this, and the five-year-old son of Kitten’s Joy will likely be well-placed early, which can only help his chances.


$2 Win #6 Cloth of Stars

$1 Exacta Box #3 Rey de Oro / #6 Cloth of Stars / #7 Hawkbill

$2 Show #7 Hawkbill

Dubai World Cup

I tried and tried to find a way to beat West Coast in this race, and have simply come up empty. He’s simply the best dirt horse in America right now, with the retirement of Gun Runner, and seems to only be getting better. On top of likely being the best horse in the race, he looks to also get a dream trip, with good tactical speed and the ability to rate behind a horse like Mubtaahij, who may be going for the lead here, if needed. His biggest threat comes from Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Talismanic, who won on synthetic in his one race since the Breeders’ Cup, but has never run on natural dirt. However, being by Medaglia d’Oro, dirt isn’t completely out of the question. I think he’s the only horse who may be West Coast’s equal or better on sheer talent, but the surface is a significant question mark. Breeders’ Cup Distaff winner Forever Unbridled will be making the final start of her career in this race, and I think the distance could be a big positive for her. She’s a talented horse, but this is by far the toughest race of her life, and I’m afraid her familiarity to American gamblers could cause her to be an underlay. At her morning line odds of 8-1, I think she’s a reasonable bet. North America has improved with each race this year, running in all three rounds of the Al Maktoum Challenge, culminating with a 5 1/4 length win in Round 3 over Thunder Snow. He’s another contender in the race, but again, I’m not sure if any of these horses are going to be able to run with West Coast.


$2 Win #9 West Coast

$1 Exacta Box #2 North America / #7 Talismanic / #9 West Coast

$2 Show #6 Forever Unbridled


Hall of Fame Bloodlines: A Study of Female Families – Part Two

It’s been quite a while since my post about the information I compiled regarding the 100 distinct female families that account for over 200 Hall of Fame members, but I’m back to talk about Family 1-x, the second-most productive female family in American racing’s Hall of Fame. I’ve talked about Family 1-x before, but today I’m focusing solely on the nine Hall of Fame members who descend from the great matriarch La Troienne.

Continue reading “Hall of Fame Bloodlines: A Study of Female Families – Part Two”

Hall of Fame Bloodlines: A Study of Female Families

In 1895, pedigree researcher Bruce Lowe’s Breeding Horses by the Figure System was published posthumously by his friend and editor William Allison. Lowe had traced the pedigrees of the winners of the English classic races and grouped them by direct lines of tail-female descent. He then tallied the number of classic winners in each female family, and numbered them in declining order, with the family descending from Tregonwell’s Natural Barb Mare as family #1, the Burton Barb Mare as #2, and so on, for a total of forty-three numbered families. Herman Goos later expanded this to fifty families. While most disregard the theory that Lowe proposed as a result of his research, his family numbers are still used as a convenient method of denoting Thoroughbred female families.

It’s no surprise that some female families have proven to be exceptionally prolific – my personal favorite example is La Troienne’s family 1-x, – but I was curious to know to what extent the greatest horses of our sport descend from common female ancestors. So, I looked up the Lowe family numbers of all 206 equine members of the United States Racing Hall of Fame, and came upon some very interesting findings.

Continue reading “Hall of Fame Bloodlines: A Study of Female Families”

Farewell to a Hero

It took me a while to post this, as it is by far the most personal thing I have ever shared on the internet, but I feel it would be an injustice to Blackie to omit the reasons he was such a substantial influence in my life. In reality, this is not a blog post about Better Talk Now – those who knew the horse far more than I have written beautiful tributes to him already,  – this is a blog post about the profound impact he had on me, personally.

I’d like to thank Herringswell Stables for their care of Blackie during and after his racing career, and for their generosity in sharing him with his legions of loyal fans. I’d also like to thank Graham Motion for responding to a letter written years ago by a teenage girl whose life was changed by his superstar gelding. I still treasure the letter (now laminated) and photographs I received in reply.

A few images from an incredible summer interning at Saratoga, a lifetime high experience born of the passion that Better Talk Now inspired


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2016 Breeders Cup Friday Selections

As I have in years past, I will be posting my 2016 Breeders’ Cup selections in the format of a $2 win bet, a $1 3-horse exacta box, and a $2 W/P/S bet. As I’m not much of a gambler, this isn’t exactly how I will be playing the races (my actual bets will likely be on Twitter), but I’ve found it’s a useful way to gauge my own handicapping success in the Breeders’ Cup.

Continue reading “2016 Breeders Cup Friday Selections”