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Race of the Week: $12M Dubai World Cup | Saturday, March 26, 2022

by Jeremy Plonk

March 24, 2022


The Lead:
The 26th running of the Dubai World Cup has once again lured top dirt horses from America and an international cast stronger than most editions of the Breeders' Cup Classic. It's a true clash from various corners of the globe, but contested at America's A-game, on the dirt. But the previous 25 editions have a surprising ledger: 13 world-based winners, 12 American-based victors.

Post time for the Dubai World Cup, Race 9 from Meydan, will be 12:30 pm ET in the US. The Meydan program opens at 7:45 am ET with the first of nine races. Horseplayers with Xpressbet and 1/ST BET can enjoy up to a $10 money-back special on win bets on the entire Saturday card at Dubai's Meydan if your selection finishes second or third.

Field Depth:
For $12 million, they are no free lunches in terms of field quality. G1 Pegasus World Cup winner LIFE IS GOOD is the top-ranked dirt horse in the world and the standout favorite. American travelers COUNTRY GRAMMER and HOT ROD CHARLIE also are G1 winners. Fellow American MIDNIGHT BOURBON is multiple G1-placed. Among the worldwide contingent are last year's Dubai World Cup 2-3 finishers CHUWA WIZARD of Japan and MAGNY COURS for the Godolphin home team in the UAE. And HYPOTHETICAL is a 2-time winner this season at Meydan, including the G1 Maktoum Challenge local prep for the Dubai World Cup.

LIFE IS GOOD has world-class speed and should be flexing that under Irad Ortiz Jr. from the rail post draw. All four American entrants have some semblance of early pace to their game and expect the other trio to line up in pursuit of LIFE IS GOOD, perhaps MIDNIGHT BOURBON the quickest of those others. HYPOTHETICAL made the lead in this race a year ago against softer early pace-types, as well as in the local prep. This should be a fast, high-quality pace.

Our Eyes:
Nothing LIFE IS GOOD to this point suggests there's any regression looming. His easy dispatch of KNICKS GO over 1-1/8 miles answered most of the distance question, though another furlong will be added Saturday for the first time. He's trained as strong as ever up to this from all indications and videos viewed. Bottom line, he has to regress to be beaten.

Among HOT ROD CHARLIE, MIDNIGHT BOURBON and COUNTRY GRAMMER, that's where you'll have to do some evaluation for the exotics. None has faced LIFE IS GOOD, but the closest simulation was HOT ROD CHARLIE chasing Knicks Go in last year's Breeders' Cup Classic over this 10-furlong trip. He could not sustain and flattened out late. With LIFE IS GOOD even more potent up front, I'll swing against HOT ROD CHARLIE for the exacta. Granted, HOT ROD CHARLIE has a prep locally and win over the track in fine fashion, but I'm a strong devotee to pace and how a race sets up; this one works against him.

Would MIDNIGHT BOURBON or COUNTRY GRAMMER do any better? Based on past results, it's hard to project MIDNIGHT BOURBON on any different level than HOT ROD CHARLIE. COUNTRY GRAMMER is the wildcard, and as well as he ran in the Saudi Cup in his first MIddle Eastern foray, he's likely America's best hope to back-end an exacta.

Among the world team, I'll admit international racing is not my forte. CHUWA WIZARD is proven on this stage and the way Japan dominated Saudi Cup night and starred at last year's Breeders' Cup, you have to respect him even more.

Most Certain Exotics Contender:
LIFE IS GOOD is the 4-5 favorite for plenty of good reason.​

Best Longshot Exotics Contender:
CHUWA WIZARD can't possibly go off the 30-1 morning line, but should be attractive.

Sending it in ($100 bankroll):
$50 exacta part-wheel LIFE IS GOOD over CHUWA WIZARD and COUNTRY GRAMMER.