Champion trainer Bob Baffert thrives on competition at the highest levels of the sport and that’s what has brought him halfway around the globe to run Mubtaahij and West Coast in Saturday’s Dubai World Cup.
“I bring good horses,” Baffert said. “It’s a privilege to be here.
“The two brothers (His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai and His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of The Executive Council of Dubai Government and Dubai Sports Council) had a vision to have this in the Middle East, so you bring your good horses here. We need this in our game.
“It’s good for our sport and for the breeding in America. It’s very important to bring your good horses here. That’s what makes the history of the Dubai World Cup.
“You’ve got the (American) Classics, the Breeders’ Cup and Dubai World Cup. Those are the three we dream of winning.
“It’s an honour and a privilege to come here and to run a horse here.”
Baffert kept both of his charges in the stable area on Tuesday morning as they adhered to a light schedule limited to walking following their impressive breezes on the dirt track at Meydan the previous day.
“They’re happy. They look great. It was a nice cool morning, so they feel great,” Baffert said.
“The whole key is that they’re eating and drinking water to keep hydrated. They’ve been eating and drinking really well.”
Pegasus World Cup runner up West Coast heads the market for the Dubai World Cup at Meydan on Saturday. Is he a good thing? pic.twitter.com/FxEOQnMNWU— Racing Post TV (@RP_TV) March 27, 2018
Baffert said he feels significantly less stressed this year than last, when he came to Dubai with Arrogate, the winner of last year’s World Cup.
The Juddmonte Farms colour-bearer won the race with a stunning and powerful come-from-behind victory after completely missing the break.
“Everything this year is so smooth. The vibe is good. I felt so much pressure last year,” he said.
“Competing on the world stage is really exciting. But they have to break well and they have to fight for it and earn it. You have to know your horse really well.
“Arrogate got light last year, but these horses are holding their weight. I don’t want to jinx myself, but I feel confident.”
The pair will walk again tomorrow and Thursday and they will both be brought to stand in the gate before Saturday’s race.
Meanwhile another great trainer Saeed bin Suroor, who has won the race seven times, is relying this year on Thunder Snow, winner of both the UAE 2000 Guineas and UAE Derby last year.
Equally effective on turf, he is clearly a very smart performer.
“He looks very well indeed and we are very happy with him,” Bin Suroor said.
“Physically, he is as good as we have had him and he has come through all three rounds of the Al Maktoum Challenge, winning the middle one and finishing second in the other two.
“The third round, on Super Saturday, was run at a very fast pace, which could well happen again on Saturday.
“It is not going to be a big field, but we will still be hoping for a good draw, so Christophe Soumillon can ride the race he wants to in a very good renewal,” he continued.
“He has two Group 1 wins on turf in Europe and it would be great for the whole team if we could take one on dirt. He showed in the UAE Guineas and Derby last year, as well as three races this year, he handles it well.”
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