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Japanese Horses Lead Field In Wide-Open Dubai World Cup

Country Grammer Aims to Run Down Panthalassa

Bob Baffert-trained Country Grammer hopes to match last year’s effort when he takes on a talented field of international horses in the $12 million Dubai World Cup on Saturday at Meydan Racecourse in the UAE.

Country Grammer was second in the Saudi Cup in 2022 before passing Life is Good in the final furlong to win the Dubai World Cup. The 6-year-old once again finished second in the Saudi Cup last month to frontrunner Panthalassa and will try to join Thunder Snow (2018, 19) as a two-time winner of the event.

Trainer Bob Baffert leads Game Winner to the track for morning workouts in preparation for the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby
Trainer Bob Baffert leads Game Winner to the track for morning workouts in preparation for the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby // Michael Reaves

The Dubai World Cup goes off at about 11:35 a.m. ET as Race 9 and caps a card at Meydan that also includes the Dubai Sheema Classic, the Dubai Turf, and the Dubai Golden Shaheen among several other stakes battles.

Back in the United States, the Louisiana Derby undercard includes three Grade 2 races – the New Orleans Classic, the Muniz Memorial, and the Fair Grounds Oaks. The Fair Grounds Oaks, along with the Bourbonette Stakes on Saturday (Turfway Park) and Sunday’s Sunland Oaks (Sunland Park) prep for the Kentucky Oaks on May 5 at Churchill Downs.

Japan Keys World Cup

Country Grammer enjoys the distance and will undoubtedly make his customary closing run as he goes after another Dubai World Cup victory for Baffert. But will there be a contested pace and which of the several talented Japanese runners will be at their top form Saturday?

Panthalassa had things his way in the Saudi Cup, but the speedy Japanese horse may have a hard time taking the field all the way around again at 1 3/16 miles.

The question is which of the other Japanese horses may get the jump on Country Grammer? Cafe Pharoah made a strong run for third in the Saudi Cup and former UAE Derby winner Crown Pride was fifth while Vela Azul, Ushba Tesoro, and T O Keynes could also make a run among the Japanese horses.

Two longshots in the racebook that may improve off disappointing efforts in the Saudi Cup include Emblem Road and Jun Light Bolt.

If you are online gambling, three horses have the best shot to beat Country Grammer – Ushba Tesoro, Cafe Pharoah and Algiers, who has won two straight at Meydan. Play them over CG in exactas.

Lord North Goes For Three

The undercard for Dubai World Cup day at Meydan is filled with interesting races, especially the final three where Lord North goes for a three-peat in the 1 ⅛-mile Dubai Turf.

Discovery Island might be worth a wager at decent horse racing odds in Race 2, the Group 2 Godolphin Mile. Meanwhile, likely favorite Al Dasim must break from far outside in Race 4 – the Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint on Turf – and could be beaten by either Happy Romance, Sight Success, or trainer Charlie Appleby’s Al Suhail.

Race 6 is the 6-furlong Group 1 Golden Shaheen on dirt and it may be the most interesting race of the day. Talented American entrant Gunite will likely be part of a hot pace, which could set up likely favorite Lemon Pop for Japanese trainer Hiroyasu Tanaka. Closer Red Le Zele from Japan could also benefit from the pace and run everyone down. Bet a Gunite-Red Le Zele exacta box.

Lord North will have his work cut out with likely favorite Do Deuce from Japan and Appleby’s Irish-bred Master of the Seas, who is the pick to win the Group 1 Dubai Turf.

Japan’s 2022 Horse of the Year Equinox is the likely favorite if betting online for the 1 ½-mile Group 1 Dubai Sheema Classic, but Breeders’ Cup Turf champ Rebel’s Romance, defending champ Shahryar and 2022 Irish Derby champ Westover will have a say. Bet an Equinox-Westover exacta box.

Art Collector Is Back

Art Collector, the upset-winner of the $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational late in January at Gulfstream Park, returns for the Grade 2 New Orleans Classic in horse racing news on Saturday at Fair Grounds.

Trainer Bill Mott’s colt is 8 for 10 at the 1 ⅛-mile distance and is hard to beat, but there is enough speed to push Art Collector a bit in Race 9 on the card. Trainer Brad Cox’s West Will Power, who breaks from the 3 hole – just outside Art Collector – has been in the money 12 of his 14-lifetime races and could be the main threat.

The 1 ⅛-mile Muniz Memorial Classic on turf will be Race 10 and speedy Two Emmys (6) along with Atone (1) highlight the field. Atone, who closed to win the Pegasus World Cup Turf, looks to be the class of the field. Bet the 1 over Gentle Soul (3), Two Emmys, and Native Thunder (10).

Another Try For Hoosier Philly

Hoosier Philly, who did not fire as the prohibitive favorite in the Grade 2 Rachel Alexandra Stakes last month at Fair Grounds, hopes to turn the tables on Pretty Mischievous (4 for 5) in the Fair Grounds Oaks as Race 11 on Saturday.

Trainer Tom Amoss’ filly breaks from the outside post in the five-horse field and Pretty Mischievous is the 3. Bet the 5 on top and, for a bit more value, throw the Southlawn (1) underneath in a small exacta.

The winner of the Fair Grounds Oaks gets 100 points, while the victor in the Bourbonette Oaks and the Sunland Oaks gets 50. Botanical (5) appears to be a strong favorite in the Bourbonette for Cox but for value throw Shewillghostu (9) underneath along with Flashy Gem (8). Baffert’s Doinitthehardway (4) looks like the right horse on top at Sunland.

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