Two Step Salsa could be the easiest winner on the card. He always looked like a horse of real promise last year but he was still figuring out the game. He was mighty in his first start for Godolphin and they may be sending out the best talent in their stable in this first race. Gayego is a solid horse who will be a big threat but he just isn't as good as the Salsa. I like de Kock's Art of War to get in the mix and snatch a place. He's been running okay this spring and I think the cutback in distance will help him.
Two Step Salsa
I'm not ready to simply concede this race to Desert Party. I think his last race is being overrated. He got his last quarter mile in :25.07. That's not a very impressive closing time for a flat mile. I think as he stretches out he'll become more vulnerable. Naval Officer is a major threat to the favorite. Although he has never been on the dirt he's bred for it and he's already won a 9f race in Europe. He's a consistent performer who finishes his races with real zest. His last race should have set him up well for this one and I think he can pull it off. The other horse I'd use against the favorite is Jose Adan. He had all kinds of trouble in the Al Bastakiya but finished willingly enough. He's not terribly fast but he's resolute and if Desert Party starts gasping for oxygen in the final furlong he could be there to wear him down
Dubai Golden Shaheen
Indian Blessing should handle this group of misfits pretty easily. Baffert made a good call sending her here. No significant American talent followed her and no one based in Dubai should be good enough to press her. I would use the consistent Big City Man for second. He showed a lot of fight and class when he saw off Diabolical, it's too bad Gayego was there to outlast him. I think he's a great bet to hit the board but he's not really brilliant enough to win. The biggest threats to Indian Blessing for the win are Black Seventeen if he somehow recovers his best form and Lucky Quality the Japanese rocket who has yet to taste defeat on the dirt. Lucky Quality has posted some fast times in Japan but it really is hard to get a reliable gauge on his quality. If you feel the need to go against Indian Blessing I think he's your best bet but he could easily go bust against these better horses.
Dubai Duty Free
No American Turf horse has ever won a race on the grass on World Cup day. Kip Deville and Hyperbaric both bring good records into the race but I don't think they're good enough to compete in what appears to be an impossibly tough race. There is plenty of speed with the two Americans and Jay Peg so I expect the pace to get pretty hot. Getting a clean run in this packed field will likely decide the winner from the losers. Archipenko is the class and the horse to beat but he can be beaten, don't count on him being worse than third though. Vodka is one of the main challengers after running so well in this race last year then going on to have a career best year. She never ran at all in the Jebel Hatta but her jockey may have the exact same problem this time as she's drawn inside of this huge field. If she gets a run she could win but is she a horse than finds trouble? I find myself asking why Niconero can't win this race. He's done nothing but win 3 G-1 races in his last 4 starts. He's a very tough horse who fights all the way to the line and I think that kind of determination is exactly what will be need in a tough race like this one. I also like Balius to get a piece, I think he's going to run another very good race just as he did in the Jebel Hatta. There are almost too many horses to pick but I think I'll focus on Niconero for the upset as well as hedging with Archipenko and Vodka.
Dubai Sheema Classic
I wonder why Lady Marian and Vodka didn't enter this race instead of the Duty Free. They'd both have massive chances against a field that looks pretty disappointing. The old guard of Doctor Dino, Quijano and Youmzain should all run well and be in the mix late but I'm kind of tired of these guys. I think all of them can easily lose and none of them are getting younger. I'm a big fan of Front House. This 4yo filly held off Quijano last time out going 12f despite being fully exposed a long way from the line. It looked like Quijano was closing hard on her but his challenge flamed out right at the wire and she loped away from him again during the gallop out. De Kock has his #1 rider on her back and I think she can hold off Doctor Dino and Youmzain. I think Doctor Dino is the best of the old guard but it's worth taking a bit of a price against him.
Dubai World Cup
This is probably the worst World Cup ever. I think Albertus Maximus is an embarrassing headliner, that said I don't think he's necessarily a false favorite because there aren't many other great options in here. Asiatic Boy, Casino Drive and My Indy might be the only horses good enough to claim his scalp. That's a pretty poor reflection on the quality of this race. Nad al Sheba is a pretty testing place to run 10f because of the extra long straight and Albertus Maximus has never showed any proficiency beyond 9f. For that reason I'm going to go with the class and speed of Asiatic Boy. He's done well enough at the trip and it looks as though he's found his form again after that long layoff. I think he'll out stay Albertus Maximus and cap a huge day for Mike De Kock.