St. Joe Bay winning the Palos Verdes Stakes (gr. II) at Santa Anita – © Benoit Photo
Of all the races that comprise the exciting Dubai World Cup program on March 25th at Meydan, none have been quite so thoroughly dominated by American shippers as the $2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen (UAE-I), a six-furlong sprint on the dirt track. Excluding five years when the race was conducted over a synthetic surface, U.S. runners have won nine of the twelve renewals of this race, and it would come as no surprise to see another American contender prevail this year.
The favorite to win will almost certainly be Mind Your Biscuits, a son of Posse that possessed a powerful late run. Showing steady improvement last year, Mind Your Biscuits ran a huge third in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (gr. I) and ended the season with a victory over the talented Sharp Azteca in the seven-furlong Malibu Stakes (gr. I).
Furthermore, Mind Your Biscuits was impressive in his 2017 debut, closing strongly to finish second by a neck in the 6 1/2-furlong Gulfstream Park Sprint Stakes (gr. III), a race that was clearly a prep for the Golden Shaheen. He has reported handled the trip to Dubai very well and has trained impressively at Meydan, and regular rider Joel Rosario will retain the mount.
Still, there are a couple of reasons to question Mind Your Biscuit’s chances of winning. For one, he has drawn post position fourteen and may have a bit of difficulty working out a good trip–he seems almost certain to get a wide trip. Secondly, one can make a case that six furlongs might be a little too short for Mind Your Biscuits, especially since it’s difficult to close ground at Meydan.
An intriguing alternative to Mind Your Biscuits is the speedy Californian sprinter St. Joe Bay, who has won three straight races in impressive fashion. Unlike Mind Your Biscuits, St. Joe Bay has a ton of early speed, which he demonstrated impressively when carving out fractions of :21.47 and :43.57 on his way to victory in the 6 1/2-furlong Midnight Lute Stakes (gr. III) at Santa Anita in December.
With that kind of speed, St. Joe Bay should be able to secure the early lead, a definite advantage at Meydan. And while the tiring track at Meydan is a question mark (it’s not as fast as Santa Anita), St. Joe Bay was a decent miler before cutting back to sprint distances, so stamina shouldn’t be an issue. Furthermore, in terms of BRIS speed figures, St. Joe Bay isn’t far behind Mind Your Biscuits at all–St. Joe Bay’s last two figures are 103 and 101, while Mind Your Biscuits earned a 104 while winning the Malibu Stakes. Since St. Joe Bay’s speed gives him a tactical advantage, I believe he’s poised to upset Mind Your Biscuits and looms as the most likely winner of the Golden Shaheen, though for multi-race wagers I would want to include both.
For the trifecta, I would also consider the chances of Reynaldothewizard. This amazing 11-year-old gelding won the Golden Shaheen in 2013 and finished fourth in both 2014 and 2016. In his lone prep for the 2017 renewal, Reynaldothewizard defeated 2016 Golden Shaheen winner Muarrab in the six-furlong Dubawi Stakes at Meydan on January 12th, a strong effort that proved Reynaldothewizard still has the speed to compete at this level. Taking things easy and entering off a 2 1/2-month layoff could be just what Reynaldothewizard needs to fire his best shot on the big day, and I wouldn’t count him out of finishing in the money at a bit of a price. At the very least, this veteran sprinter (who was competing in graded stakes races as far back as 2008!) is a sentimental favorite that deserves our cheers and admiration.
Now it’s your turn! Who do you like in the Dubai Golden Shaheen?
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