Smart Falcon may be given an easy lead in the US$10 million Dubai World Cup after Game On Dude, his chief rival, was handed the widest gate of all in the post position draw. Audio interview
Smart Falcon drawn in 'ideal position' for Dubai World Cup
DUBA // Smart Falcon may be given an easy lead in the US$10 million (Dh36,733m) Dubai World Cup on Saturday after Game On Dude, his chief rival for the pace, was handed the widest gate of all in yesterday's post position draw.
Ken Kozaki, the trainer, selected stall five of 14 for Smart Falcon at the ceremony at Meydan Racecourse and the Japanese was delighted that his habitual front-runner was well placed.
"It is an ideal position," he said of his inside draw. "It's not too wide and is what we wanted."
The prolific seven year old, who has won 23 of his 33 starts and is on a nine-race winning streak, will be ridden by Yutake Take, who was also pleased with his partner's position after Kozaki was sixth to choose a starting berth.
"It was good for us to be given the choice early," Take said. "We didn't want to be closer to the rail than gate five."
Game On Dude, the Breeders' Cup Classic runner-up, was handed stall 14 by default as co-owner Bernie Schiappa was last to choose.
Chantal Sutherland has ridden Game On Dude six times but has lead the field on the five year old gelding only twice, including when beaten at Churchill Downs in November.
In Game On Dude's prep race ahead of shipping to Dubai, the San Antonio Stakes, the pair were at the rear of the field, before Sutherland made a move in the 1,700-metre contest to lead 1,000 metres from home.
Although connections have remained coy about potential riding plans, Schiappa was more open on knowing his horse's fate.
"It's perfect, that's out lucky number," he told the ceremony. "March the 14 was the birthday of our dear friend [the late part-owner Terry Lanni]."
After the draw, Schiappa backed up his assertion that stall 14 was the best he could have wished for.
"Now we have a view of everybody," he said. "If you've ever played golf and you have the same putt as the guy in front of you, you know what the other guy is going to do if you wait for him to go first."
The American trainer Bill Mott was the first to be given the option to choose and he placed Royal Delta, the Breeders' Cup Ladies Classic winner, in stall seven.
Like Schiappa, Mott hoped that his jockey, Joe Lezcano, would be afforded a better view of what the other riders were doing in what looks an increasingly tactical race.
"It's in the middle and we get a good look at both sides. It's been a lucky number for me," Mott said.
"Royal Delta is a stalker of pace, not a deep closer or a front-runner."
Godolphin have four horses in the World Cup, a race they have won four times, and Saeed bin Suroor was on hand to place Prince Bishop in stall 12 and stablemate Mendip in 13.
In the absence of Mahmoud Al Zarooni, Simon Crisford, the Dubai-based operation's racing manager, had no hesitation in choosing stall eight for Monterosso, last year's third, while Capponi, the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 3 winner, will emerge from gate 11.
The Europeans believed that the inside was the place to be after connections of So You Think and Zazou went respectively for stalls four and three.
Zazou, trained in Germany by Waldemar Hickst, has had a muted arrival in the UAE but Olivier Peslier, his jockey, was quick to praise his mount's abilities.
"He is a very good horse," Peslier said. "It has not been easy to train in Germany during the winter because of a lot of snow, but the horse is in good form and I will ride him tomorrow morning. I wouldn't say our draw is a big help and I'm hoping the race will be run at a decent pace."