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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 12 December 2018

Bob Baffert taking nothing for granted at Dubai World Cup as he looks to West Coast or Mubtaahij to repeat Arrogate success

American trainer is bidding to win the event at Meydan for a fourth time

Mubtaahij is one of Bob Baffert's two horses competing at Meydan on Saturday in the Dubai World Cup. Tom Dulat / Getty Images
Mubtaahij is one of Bob Baffert's two horses competing at Meydan on Saturday in the Dubai World Cup. Tom Dulat / Getty Images

Bob Baffert is taking nothing for granted in his bid to win back-to-back Dubai World Cup titles.

Twelve months ago the American trainer triumphed with Arrogate in the US$10 million (Dh36.7m) race at Meydan, and he is well represented again this time around with West Coast and Mubtaahij running in his name.

But Baffert is aware that his horses face tough opposition in a strong field.

“This race has the quality of the international field akin to that of a race in the Breeders’ Cup,” he said of the Dubai World Cup.

“You can’t come in here with a ‘B’ horse. I’m really excited and it’s a privilege to be here, but this race is a challenge. You can’t be afraid to get them beat.”

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West Coast looked the picture of health as he seemed to float over the well-groomed dirt track shortly after 5am under longtime assistant Dana Barnes on Thursday.

Mubtaahij seemed equally in good shape and right at home on the track where he won both the UAE 2000 Guineas and the UAE Derby in 2015 when Barnes galloped him shortly after 7am.

“They fluffed up the track and it has a cut in it and they both went over it great,” said Baffert.

“West Coast likes this kind of track, a soft, sandy track. He looks really good and he looks strong. He hasn’t lost a pound. They’re both pretty happy.

“You can tell if they’re on point when you take them out in the morning. You can tell by the look on their faces and in their eyes if they’re happy.”

West Coast is drawn 9 and Mubtaahij jumps out from Gate 5 and Baffert believes a clean break as important even as the first turn around the main track at Meydan Racecourse comes quickly.

“The only thing I worry about is the break,” he added. “They have a short run (to the first turn) here. It’s only two furlongs.”

The biggest challenge to Baffert’s runners are Gunnevera and Forever Unbridled, as well as the Godolphin pair Talismanic and Thunder Snow, and Satish Seemar’s North America.

Amelie Foulon, the first woman to ride a Group winner in France, took Talismanic for a spin on the dirt track and he looked nice and relaxed, according to Lisa-Jane Graffard, the Godolphin representative from France.

Thunder Snow’s handler Saeed bin Suroor added: “We drew gate 10, which is OK because he should be available to avoid the kickback if he breaks well. He is in top form and, hopefully, can bounce back having perhaps disappointed a bit on Super Saturday.”