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2017 Dubai World Cup Workouts


Thursday was Aidan O'Brien day at Meydan with all 9 of his horses out on the track this morning.
Date: 03/23/2017

On Thursday morning in Dubai, some of the entrants for the $10 million Dubai World Cup (G1) and its rich undercard were at Meydan Racecourse on the main track, before fans enjoying "Breakfast with the Stars" out on the vast apron. Conditions were excellent with partly cloudy skies and temperatures in the mid 70's. The races will be run Saturday evening (Saturday morning in North America), with the World Cup going to post at 8:45pm local time (12:45pm ET). The races will be shown live in North America on TVG in the U.S. and HPI-TV in Canada, as well as at racetracks and simulcast sites. In addition, for the first time NBC Sports Network will show the four Group 1 races in a special telecast starting at 10:30am ET.

Here are photos and comments for 17 horses that were out on Thursday morning plus several of Bob Baffert and his crew. Please click the smaller photos to see a larger version.


Arrogate (Dubai World Cup) returned to the main track for the first time since Monday. Garrett O'Rourke, manager of Juddmonte Farms in America, said, “Everything seems well with him. He seems to be pushing all the right buttons and enjoying his celebrity status. He had a nice, easy swagger this morning.”

Arrogate (Dubai World Cup) schooled in the starting gate (right) before galloping 1 lap (9f) under exercise rider Dana Barnes. Trainer Bob Baffert said, “He looks good. We’ve got to stay focussed now. Until he gets in the gate and gets the job done in the race, I’m going to be a nervous wreck.”

Apollo Kentucky (Dubai World Cup) cantered 1 1/2 laps (2 1/2 miles) on the main track. Assistant trainer Jun Tomioka said: "He worked well. He seems to be loosening up nicely. We will talk to the trainer this afternoon and decide what kind of training we will do tomorrow."

Hoppertunity (Dubai World Cup) went out at 7am for the same routine as stablemate Arrogate, schooling in the gate then galloping a lap with Dana Barnes aboard. Trainer Bob Baffert said, “He’s just doing great. Both horses have shipped well over here and there haven’t been any hiccups. Now we’re just playing the waiting game. It is very exciting to be here with two such good horses and it would be great if they could run first and second.”

Special Fighter (Dubai World Cup) galloped on the main track Thursday. Regular rider Fernando Jara said, “We are very happy with the horse, how he ran on his comeback and the progress he has made since then. However, from the wide draw it is going to be difficult and we will need some luck." Maria Ritchie, trainer, added: “The wide draw is not what we wanted so it is over to the jockey now but we have  a lot of faith in Fernando, who will certainly not panic. Hopefully he is not forced to race wide throughout.”

Highland Reel (Sheema Classic) came out with the rest of the Aidan O'Brien string at 7am. The pack walked in single file once around the wrong way along the outside rail (1 1/4 miles) then cantered once around along the inside rail (1 1/8 miles). Assistant trainer Pat Keating said, “Everything’s fine and we’re very happy with all the horses. Every one of them is going well. Everybody connected with the event does they’re best for us. If we want something, they will provide it, which makes it as smooth as possible.”

Seventh Heaven (Sheema Classic) came out with the rest of the Aidan O'Brien string at 7am. The pack walked in single file once around the wrong way along the outside rail (1 1/4 miles) then cantered once around along the inside rail (1 1/8 miles). Trainer Aidan O'Brien was unable to travel to Dubai yet due to snow at home.

Deauville (Dubai Turf) walked and cantered with the rest of the O'Brien team as described above.

Cougar Mountain (Dubai Turf) walked and cantered with the rest of the O'Brien team as described above. Campaigned in the US and Hong Kong at the end of 2016, he comes into Saturday’s race on the back of an unlucky-in-running second place over 1600m in Qatar.

Long Island Sound (Dubai Turf) walked and cantered with the rest of the O'Brien team as described above.

Le Bernardin (Godolphin Mile) galloped on the main track Thursday. Trainer Ali Rashid Al Rayhi said: “Course and distance obviously suit him as he has shown by winning Al Maktoum Challenge Round 1 twice. Super Saturday was a bit disappointing but he is working well and, we hope, will be very competitive in a strong heat.”

Stormardal (Godolphin Mile) galloped on the main track Thursday.

Mind Your Biscuits (Golden Shaheen) came out to the main track at 5:10am, and jogged twice around (2 1/4 miles) before returning to the quarantine barn. Trainer Chad Summers said, “The horse shipped really well and he’s taking everything in stride. The outside post is what it is. You can’t change it and there are horses with much worse post positions in relation to their running styles than ours. I think that on paper the race sets up well for us otherwise and we’re not going to change our running style. We can be tactical enough but he is a little better making one sustained run from farther behind and he should like the longer straight here. He’s shown us every sign that he’s sitting on his lifetime best race and I think his lifetime best wins this by 3 lengths. We have a lot of faith in Joel Rosario. He knows this track and won the Dubai World Cup here on Animal Kingdom. He works this horse, knows him well and has a lot of confidence in the horse.” 

Muarrab (Golden Shaheen) galloped on the main track. Jockey Jim Crowley said of his title defence, “I imagine we will be positive on him after different tactics did not seem to suit on Super Saturday. We cannot complain about the draw in six and, hopefully, we can get a good break and early position. If so, he should be very competitive.”

Lancaster Bomber (UAE Derby) walked and cantered with the rest of the O'Brien team as described above. An autumn revelation, when runner-up in the Dewhurst Stakes to stablemate Churchill, and the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf, he will tackle dirt and be ridden by Ryan Moore, both for the first time, on Saturday. He has an entry Britain’s first colts’ Classic, the 2000 Guineas, at Newmarket  in early May.

Spirit of Valor (UAE Derby) walked and cantered with the rest of the O'Brien team as described above. The War Front colt has the lightest racing record of the group, with a win and two placings from his three outings as a two-year-old.

Kingfisher (Dubai Gold Cup) walked and cantered with the rest of the O'Brien team as described above. Connections were keen to take up the engagement for the six-year-old, who ran second to Saturday’s rival trip To Paris in the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot in 2015 but has not raced since a disappointing run in the Melbourne Cup in November the following year. 

Washington DC (Al Quoz Sprint) walked and cantered with the rest of the O'Brien team as described above. Last seen in action when seventh in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint over 6 1/2 f, he showed better form in his two previous outings, when runner-up at The Curragh and in the Prix de l’Abbaye over 5f.
Left: Trainer Bob Baffert and his son Bode. This is Baffert's first trip back to Dubai since suffering a heart attack before the 2012 running. He said, “I never thought I’d be back here. This horse has been so good to me, and hopefully we will know after the race just how great he is.” Baffert has won the Dubai World Cup twice before, with Silver Charm and Captain Steve.

Right: Bode photo bombs a TV interview of jockey Florent Geroux by Fanny Salmon. Geroux rides Gun Runner in the World Cup and Stallwalkin' Dude in the Golden Shaheen.

Left: Trainer Bob Baffert and his wife Jill. He said, “When I was having the heart attack, all I was thinking was, ‘Is this the way it’s going to end?’" After Game on Dude and The Factor ran poorly that night, he said to family and friends, "I don’t know about you guys, but I’m a happy man after what I went through.”

Right: Baffert's assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes.

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