Hall of Famer Bob Baffert’s 2017 champion three-year-old colt West Coast, the international ante-post favourite to win next month’s Group 1 Dubai World Cup, heads an imposing list of 136 nominations for the $10 million (Dh36.7 million) showpiece at Meydan Racecourse on March 31.
A convincing winner of the Travers Stakes (G1) and Pennsylvania Derby (G1) during the second half of 2017, West Coast finished a game runner-up to Gun Runner in last month’s $16 million Pegasus Cup, the world’s richest horse race, run at Gulfstream Park.
Baffert, who last year sent out 2017 Pegasus scorer Arrogate to land the Dubai World Cup, has yet to commit to West Coast’s future plans but it is a strongly believed that Dubai is more than an option.
Baffert, who previously won the Dubai attraction with Silver Charm (1998) and Captain Steve (2001) when it was held at Nad Al Sheba Racecourse, has also nominated three other runners including multiple Grade winner Collected (7th in Pegasus), and two other former World Cup runners, Hoppertunity and Mubtaahij.
West Coast is the 5/2 favourite with leading British bookmaker William Hill,
Other noteworthy nominations include Godolphin’s Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) winner Talismanic, Japan’s Champions Cup (G1) winner Gold Dream and a surfeit of Group 1 winning nominees — Thunder Snow, Apollo Kentucky and Seeking the Soul.
Nominations for the Dubai World Cup sponsored by Emirates Airline (G1) closed on January 11 and the Dubai Racing Club also announced the lists for the event’s eight supporting races which featured a sparkling list of international stars.
The $6m Longines Dubai Sheema Classic (G1) over 2410m on turf is headed by British Champion Stakes hero Cracksman, the world’s top-rated three-year-old of 2017, as well as Japan Cup (G1) winner Cheval Grand and French Group 1 winner Cloth of Stars, while the $6,000,000 Dubai Turf sponsored by DP World (G1) over 1800m has attracted the world’s top-rated horse in training, Australian superstar Winx, a daughter of Dubai World Cup winner Street Cry, as well as champion World Approval and last year’s victory Vivlos.
The card’s two sprints showcase some of the fastest horses on the planet. The $2,000,000 Dubai Golden Shaheen sponsored by Gulf News (G1) over 1200m on dirt is topped by defending champion Mind Your Biscuits, Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) winner Roy H and Centenary Sprint Cup (G1) winner D B Pin, while the $1,000,000 Al Quoz Sprint sponsored by Azizi Developments (G1) over 1200m on turf features defending champion The Right Man, British Champions Sprint (G1) winner Librisa Breeze and UAE’s top-rated horse, Ertijaal.
A pair of Group 2 events, each worth $1,000,000, respectively boast strong global intrigue. The Dubai Gold Cup sponsored by Al Tayer Motors, a 3,200m turf marathon, attracted three-time G1 winner and two-time defending champion Vazirabad, as well as Big Orange and Torcedor, while the Godolphin Mile sponsored by Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum City – District One, over a 1600m on the dirt, includes Cigar Mile (G1) winner Sharp Azteca, as well as Kafuji Take and Accelerate.
The $2,000,000 UAE Derby sponsored by The Saeed & Mohammed Al Naboodah Group (G2) sees such rising stars as Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) winner Mendelssohn, Japanese stakes winner Don Fortis and G2 winner Untamed Domain, a son of Dubai World Cup winner Animal Kingdom. At 1900m on dirt, the UAE Derby offers its winner 100 Road to the Kentucky Derby points, which can lead to a start in that American classic.
Dubai Racing Club received 1,412 nominations for 739 horses from 20 countries.
Malih Al Basti, Meydan Vice-Chairman and Chairman of the Meydan Racing Committee, said: “The 2018 Dubai World Cup is a truly global, world-class race day like no other, offering an action-packed meeting with the very best international horses, owners and trainers being represented in its nominations. It is also very heartening to see 19 countries on the list and we once again look forward to hosting an exceptionally international day of racing on Saturday, March 31.
“While the Dubai World Cup is the world’s richest day of racing, it is also an opportunity for the racing community to gather and celebrate the very best the sport has to offer at the magnificent Meydan Racecourse, the perfect stage to host our international and local competitors. When it was created in 1996, it was part of His Highness Shaikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai’s long-term vision for racing, where he saw the event becoming a global highlight on the racing calendar. It is rewarding to see that vision fulfilled year after year.”