After only just missing out on the US ‘Triple Crown’ of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes last year, having won the first two and finished fourth in the latter, there’s no doubt Art Sherman’s California Chrome is a worthy 11/8 favourite for the $6m Dubai World Cup.
California Chrome is the latest darling on the equine scene over the Atlantic after the humbly-bred colt’s incredible 2013/14 campaign, which contained seven wins on the spin over 7-10f trips between December and May.
A couple of furlongs more caught him out at Belmont in June, but back over the Kentucky Derby trip Sherman can feel confident his super horse will go as well as any.
However, there are a few negatives against California Chrome going into Meydan’s big night, the most pertinent being that he has only won one of his past five races, despite going off at 7/5 or shorter in four of them, and odds-on in three.
Furthermore, just one horse under five years old has taken this in the past six years, and only two since 2003.
Sherman professed himself delighted with a “perfect” pitch in stall number nine of nine, but four of the last five Dubai World Cup winners have been drawn between 5-8 and each of those renewals saw at least 13 runners line up, so it seems some cover is generally required, although the exception did triumph from the outside berth.
Taking all that into account, punters need look no further for a likely alternative than William Mott’s 7/2 second favourite Lea in stall five.
Mott won the first Dubai World Cup back in 1996 with Cigar, and Lea goes into the race off the back of three wins all at Graded level, including in the valuable Grade 1 Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park 13 months ago, in her past four starts.
Balding’s well-travelled eight-year-old finished last season in far better form than he started it, and in the middle managed to grab fourth (out of 16) in the 2014 Dubai World Cup at 33/1 odds.
With eight set to run it looks like the bookies will payout each-way on three places in Dubai, so Andrea Atzeni’s mount, drawn bang in the middle in stall four, is a risk worth punting on.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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