Taking a page out of books written by handicappers I deeply respect, I promise I won’t talk your ear off here. (Does that metaphor count if I’m writing, not talking? Anyway, shutting up.) With that said, I’d like to get my thoughts down in writing in some consistent way, rather than slapdash posts on Twitter 15 minutes before the race. Top selections are in italic bold.
R1 – UAE 1000 Guineas Trial
These early 3-year-old races are always fun puzzles, and to me, the Godolphin pair of Comedy Queen and Good Place seem to have the upper hand here. I’ve gone with Comedy Queen on top. She’s a Distorted Humor half-sister to Karen’s Caper who won on debut on Kempton’s all-weather. Blue cap beats white here for me!
R2 – Mina Al Hamriya
Highweight Storm Belt looks formidable here. Back in November, he beat Henry Clay by nearly five lengths; that horse came back to run a respectable second last week at the Carnival. But I’m looking to his inside – Energia Davos. Energia Davos is one of those horses that I know I’ll be kicking myself if I leave him out. He’s kept good company and has every chance to take a step forward on Meydan dirt after some nice runs last year on all-weather. Le Bernardin could hit the board again after a closing run for third last week.
R3 – Fujairah Container Terminal
This is an underwhelming event, with horses rated below Carnival standards. Jeeraan is appealing off pedigree alone, but man, that layoff. Decided to take a stab with Knavery, a son of Candy Ride out of Favorite Trick. Sounds dirt-y enough for me. Next.
R4 – UAE 2000 Guineas Trial
Upon first glance, Maftool screamed out to me. I don’t think I can go back. This will be the Hard Spun colt’s first try on dirt, so that’s always a question mark, but he’s bred for it and I think he’ll excel over it. Mubtaahij obviously has a start over the course but left me less than impressed with that effort. Volatile seems a bit of mystery horse; could be a superstar, but I won’t have him here. This is the first look at the Carnival 3-year-olds…let’s see what we’ve got!
R5 – Jebel Ali Port
This is a pretty competitive race filled with nice horses. I believe that Star Empire is the classiest of the bunch, but the long layoff and the shorter distance don’t inspire confidence. On the opposite end of the spectrum is El Estruendoso, who just ran last week, finishing poorly on the dirt. He’s a nice horse, but the quick turnaround is dicey. I’ve settled on Haafaguinea who, if he duplicates some of his runs last Carnival, should be a major win candidate.
R6 – Dubawi Stakes
This dirt sprint is full of talent, with some familiar names – Reynaldothewizard, Russian Soul, United Color, etc. While it’ll be nice to see that trio back in action, none of them are my top pick. Those honors go to Muarrab, a horse who’s been absolutely kicking ass and taking names on the dirt as of late. It’s a step up in class, but I think he’s up for the challenge. Former U.S. speedster Conveyance will probably be in the top three.
R7 – Mina Rashid
The nightcap on Thursday’s card is why this post is named why it is. It features Slumdogmillionaire, a South African import in the Watson barn whose last two races have been superb. He’s the highweight in a rather large field and will break from post 13 off a lengthy layoff. Is he vulnerable? Of course. Will I try to beat him? Nah. Let’s have fun with this last. Jai ho.