Weekend Overview: Well Armed won the biggest prize of the year in Dubai but I have to say that he's something of a footnote behind Quality Road's performance in the Florida Derby and the controversy over Gulfstream's lightning fast track. You may not find a lot of disagreement if you said that the two best horses from this three year male crop were in action this weekend. Whether it translates into a Derby win or not remains to be seen but Quality Road and Dunkirk both ran massive races in the Florida Derby. Dunkirk had to fight a front end bias and he performed admirably when rallying from well back. Quality Road looked as if he'd never be beaten. It was both a brilliant and professional performance. Regardless of what they do in the Derby one gets the feeling that this match up will be a pivotal one in the months to come. Big Drama created quite a scene as he lowered the track record for 7f at Gulfstream but got himself disqualified for the win. It was a massive reappearance for a horse who has done very little wrong in his career. We don't know yet if his connections are thinking Derby or miler but he should be a contender on whatever path he takes. One Caroline continues to look like a superstar in the making as once again she stayed undefeated with ease. Her Rampart opponents never seemed to have a chance. The Louisville Distaff is next and maybe a meeting with Acoma and Proud Spell. The Americans in Dubai were a general disappointment. A few former Americans like Two Step Salsa and Regal Ransom did quite well but Kip Deville, Albertus Maximus, Indian Blessing, Hyperbaric and Informed all ran below expectations. The quality of the World Cup is increasing and the quality of the US invaders has been decreasing.
Thoroughbred Championship Rankings: Well Armed was the big winner of the week as victory in the Dubai World Cup propelled him to the head of the standings. Because of his relative lack of accomplishments in his first two starts of the year he does appear to be a bit vulnerable at the top. Look for him to be displaced on Derby day if not before.
Power Rankings: Well Armed, One Caroline and Quality Road all made dramatic moves up the standings as you'd expect off of their big wins but Indian Blessing, Justwhistledixie and This Ones for Phil also moved themselves into contending positions in their respective divisions. The Male Sprinters seem like a particularly weak group this season as a pair of sophomores, This Ones for Phil and Capt. Candyman Can both look good enough to compete with the very best. Hopefully we'll see some "True Quality" in the upcoming Carter Handicap
Performance of the Week: It has to be Quality Road doesn't it? He just made himself the favorite for the Kentucky Derby and set the standard by which all preps will be judged. He rated beautifully just off the pace of a hopeless longshot and found himself in front without being asked when the cheap speed folded. Pletcher was right to scratch his rabbit because Quality Road rated so kindly there was no hope of him getting burned out early. Dunkirk launched a massive rally that carried him to the front but Quality Road hadn't been asked yet and once Velasquez got into him it was clear that Dunkirk was finished. People will be rolling out the superlatives to describe and flatter this performance for the next 5 weeks.
Race of the Week: It wasn't much of a contest but I found myself captivated by the Dubai Duty Free. I simply couldn't believe what my eyes were seeing as Gladiatorus under Ahmed Ajtebi ran the rest of this star studded field right off their feet. He got stronger and stronger as the race went on despite the fast fractions and the long stretch run. It was an unbelievable race by a horse who suddenly seems like one of the finest in the world.
Flop of the Week: Albertus Maximus was a complete no show in the Dubai World Cup. So much for being the class of the field. Well Armed hasn't been at his best for a while but he didn't need to be in order to embarrass the rest of this group. Most of the field had it coming but Albertus Maximus should have been able to get up for a placing in a field that poor.
Tip o'the Cap: Salute the new household name in international racing Ahmed Ajtebi. Okay so maybe he's not quite a household name yet but based on his performances on World Cup night he's got a huge future ahead of him. His ride on Gladiatorus was fantastic, he put the field to sleep and stole the race and just to show that's not a one trick pony he came from near last to win the Sheema Classic on Eastern Anthem. I think this kid will get some rides in Europe this summer if that's where he chooses to go. Being a native Emerati I would not be shocked if Godolphin was seriously thinking of making him their #2 jockey behind Frankie.
KC Handicapping: The Florida Derby went badly for me despite my confidence. The top three finishers were obvious but I got them in reverse order. One Caroline was the only winner I managed to claim and she was odds on. At least I didn't commit very heavily this weekend.
Weekly Record: 3(3)-1-0-1 (-$2.40 -40.00% ROI)
Overall Record: 719(388)-125-116-94 (-$119.90 -8.34% ROI)