Pegasus World Cup (G1) winner Life Is Good heads a strong North American quartet set to contest the $12 million Dubai World Cup (G1) at Meydan Saturday.
Life Is Good will be seeking his seventh victory in eight starts at Meydan. Though injury kept him out of the classics last year, he confirmed he was an outstanding horse when winning the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) at Del Mar Nov. 6. His reputation was then further enhanced in the Pegasus World Cup, where he clearly outpointed Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) winner Knicks Go.
The biggest doubt surrounding Life Is Good will be the 2,000-meter (about 1 1/4-mile) journey. But though he has fantastic speed, the son of Into Mischief handled 1 1/8 miles comfortably in the Pegasus World Cup. He needs to get away well from his rail draw, but will be strongly fancied to run out the extra furlong here and become the 13th U.S. winner in the 26-year history of the race.
Life Is Good will seek to tick off one of the few major dirt races missing from the resume of trainer Todd Pletcher, who has yet to win the Dubai World Cup.
Unlike Life Is Good, the other three American contestants have run in the Middle East this year. The Bob Baffert-trained Country Grammer and the ultra-consistent Midnight Bourbon both contested the $20 million Saudi Cup (G1) Feb. 26, finishing second and third, respectively, and similar efforts will put them in contention here.
The other, Hot Rod Charlie, avoided the Saudi Cup in favor of a Dubai preparation and was highly impressive in winning the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 2 (G2) at Meydan Feb. 4 and has the advantage of being set specifically for this race.
Saudi Cup runners other than Country Grammer and Midnight Bourbon returning here are the Godolphin pair of French-trained Magny Cours (10th) and Dubai-trained Real World (11th), along with the Brazilian-bred, Uruguayan-trained Aero Trem (fifth).
Magny Cours was disappointing in Riyadh but did finish third in this race last year so can’t be discounted. Real World had also strung together five consecutive wins prior to the Saudi Cup but he hasn’t won in five dirt starts.
Aero Trem, who seeks to become the third South American-bred to win this race, finished as strongly as any runner in Riyadh and is not without hope of getting some of the money.
Also arriving from Saudi Arabia is Grocer Jack, who finished fifth behind Authority in the about 1 5/16-mile Neom Turf Cup (G3). A dual Group 3 winner on turf in Europe when trained in Germany, he has joined the stable of English trainer William Haggas this year. He ran well in Riyadh but is an unknown on dirt.
Japan’s representative in the race is Chuwa Wizard, last year’s Dubai World Cup runner-up. He comes into the race after winning the Kawasaki Kinen, a race which came after a distant six-length second to T O Keynes in the Champions Cup (G1). T O Keynes’s failure in Saudi Arabia on the face of it doesn’t bode well for Chuwa Wizard, but it should be noted that Chuwa Wizard himself failed badly in the 2021 Saudi Cup prior to bouncing back for his Dubai World Cup second last year.
Rounding out the field are the first two home in the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 3 (G1) at Meydan March 5, Hypothetical and Remorse. Hypothetical was a 6 1/4-length fourth in this race last year, while Remorse’s Maktoum Challenge effort was his best to date by some distance.