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Midnight Bourbon stokes the fire

Steve Asmussen’s charge could be the dark horse at the $12 million Dubai World Cup



Contender: Midnight Bourbon warms up during the morning trackwork at Meydan Racecourse. — AP
Contender: Midnight Bourbon warms up during the morning trackwork at Meydan Racecourse. — AP

By Leslie Wilson Jr

Published: Sun 20 Mar 2022, 12:07 AM

Last updated: Sun 20 Mar 2022, 12:08 AM

American galloper Midnight Bourbon has been knocking at the door since January last year and given the consistent performances that he has delivered at the top level, deserves to be respected when he lines up in Saturday’s 26th Dubai World Cup (G1).

The four-year-old son of Tiznow has been runner-up on five occasions and third three times, most recently when chasing home Emblem Road and fellow American raider Country Grammer in the $20m Saudi Cup at Riyadh last month.

Although he has not won a race since the G3 Leconte Stakes at Fair Grounds in New Orleans, his efforts behind Hot Rod Charlie in the G1 Pennsylvania Derby in September and a third to Maxfield in the G1 Clark Stakes at Churchill in November, hinted at better things to come.

Since arriving in Dubai from Saudi Arabia, Midnight Bourbon has gone about his preparation for Saturday’s showpiece with the least of fuss.

Friday was no different as he had another easy workout, breaking from the Meydan starting gates, before delivering a steady canter around the racecourse’s wide dirt track.

Midnight Bourbon, whose trainer Steve Asmussen is expected to fly into Dubai in the next couple of days, followed quarantine regulations and walked back to the quarantine barn, which is located close to the main track.

Midnight Bourbon will be partnered by Puerto Rican jockey Irad Ortiz Jr, who has a stockpile of Breeders’ Cup trophies, in the Dubai World Cup.

Dual Hall of Famer Asmussen is best remembered for training the mighty Curlin to win the 2,000m contest by an imposing margin of seven and a quarter-lengths.

Midnight Bourbon is a 10/1 choice on most international markets, which have been dominated by the American duo of Life Is Good and Hot Rod Charlie, two horses whose connections chose to sidestep the Saudi Cup riches in favour of running only at Meydan.

Life Is Good, the exciting 2021 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile and 2022 Pegasus World Cup. hero is holding steady in pole position as the 11/10 favourite with Hot Rod Charlie available at 10/3.

The Brad Cox-trained Mandaloun, another heavyweight contender from America and the winner of the 2021 Kentucky Derby is a 7/2 chance.

Al Nefud, who was second to Hot Rod Charlie in Round 2 of the Al Maktoum Challenge at Meydan, tops the market for local hopes in the race, at 10/1.

Trained by Bhupat Seemar, whose yard has been in explosive form all season, Al Nefud was hugely impressive in the race which was only his third start on dirt.

Despite running wide, he took the fight to his more illustrious rival on that day under big-race jockey Ryan Moore and gave Hot Rod Charlie’s connections something to think about.

Seemar has always felt that Al Nefud was a Dubai World Cup type of horse who has been improving with every start and every piece of work that he puts in. He has campaigned intending to keep him fresh for the big race with his connections hoping to see an even better performance from the strapping son of Dubawi.

DID YOU KNOW?

>> Mandaloun has won some of American racing’s most coveted races including the Risen Star Stakes (2021), Pegasus Stakes (2021), Haskell Stakes (2021), Louisiana Stakes (2022) and Kentucky Derby (2021).

>> Brad Cox was responsible for training Godolphin’s Essential Quality to win the Belmont Stakes (2021) and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (2020).

>> Essential Quality would win two prestigious American Awards for Champion Two-Year-Old Male (2020) and Champion Three-Year-Old Male.


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