In last year’s Dubai World Cup, Frankie Dettori stalked the pace aboard Country Grammer as Life Is Good waltzed through sensible fractions on an uncontested lead.
Life Is Good, the reigning Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile champion, cruised past the clubhouse turn and appeared headed for an easy victory. But then something unexpected occurred. Life Is Good, the heavy favorite, lost stamina and suddenly began to regress in the deep stretch at Meydan Racecourse. Waiting patiently, Dettori guided Country Grammer to the outside of Midnight Bourbon and began to pounce.
Changing leads, Country Grammer raced past Midnight Bourbon and Life Is Good for a 1 ½ length win over runner-up Hot Rod Charlie. Now, Country Grammer is back in the $12 million Dubai World Cup, one of horse racing’s most lucrative events. With a victory, Country Grammer would join Thunder Snow as the only repeat champions in the history of the prestigious race.
‘‘Country Grammer is all guts, he’s a proper horse’’ – says @FrankieDettori.
The Italian is looking forward to the opportunity to write a glorious final chapter in #Dubai, with defending champ #CountryGrammer headlining a book of 7 rides.
Full insight: https://t.co/mb9jRVPClE pic.twitter.com/EcfNKFnKbP
— TRC (@TRCommentary) March 24, 2023
At numerous racebooks, Country Grammer is the 3/1 morning-line favorite to prevail in Saturday’s marquee race. Country Grammer is the slight favorite over Algiers, a 6-year-old gelding who stands to benefit from his familiarity with the course. Algiers (7/2) has two wins at Meydan this year, including the Grade 2 Al Maktoum Challenge.
Turning the tables
Country Grammer will also try to exact a measure of revenge against Panthalassa, the winner of the Saudi Cup. Panthalassa delivered a victory for Japan last month in Riyadh, breaking away from the pack in a wire-to-wire win. While Country Grammer closed well under Dettori, he still finished 3/4 of a length behind Panthalassa, a 6-year-old filly. With odds of 12/1, Panthalassa is one of the longer shots in the 15-horse field.
One reason for the favoritism toward Country Grammer can be found in the distance for Saturday’s race. Contested at 1 1/8 miles last month, the Saudi Cup is not Country Grammer’s preferred distance. Instead, the Bob Baffert-trained horse has a proclivity for the classic distance of 1 1/4 miles, which is what Saturday’s World Cup will be run at.
Despite the victory last year, Country Grammer finished in a rather pedestrian time of 2:04.97. That ranked as the slowest Dubai World Cup since 2011 and the second-slowest in the history of the race.
Dettori is tied with Jerry Bailey for most career wins in the race with four. It appears that Dettori will only have one shot for the record, since he plans to retire at season’s end.
𝗗𝗨𝗕𝗔𝗜 𝗪𝗢𝗥𝗟𝗗 𝗖𝗨𝗣
🏆 2000 – Dubai Millenium
🏆 2003 – Moon Ballad
🏆 2006 – Electrocutionist
🏆 2022 – Country Grammer
Frankie Dettori is going for a record fifth Dubai World Cup.#DWC pic.twitter.com/AZtDVNrLFx
— talkSPORT BET (@talksportbet) March 24, 2023
All Dubai World Cup Odds
Instant Coffee favored in Louisiana Derby
Following Instant Coffee’s 2 1/2 length victory in January’s Lecomte Stakes, trainer Brad Cox opted to skip last month’s Risen Star on the same track at the Fair Grounds. Rested from the freshening, Instant Coffee has been installed as the 2/1 favorite in Saturday’s Louisiana Derby, a key prep for the Kentucky Derby.
Instant Coffee is the clear second choice in this week’s Kentucky Derby rankings from BloodHorse. The Cox-trained Instant Coffee ranks second behind Forte, last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner.
Forte, Instant Coffee Remain 1-2 in Derby Dozen https://t.co/VpxBzY1yBz @BH_Bking #derbydozen #TC2023 pic.twitter.com/R93z90NWnn
— BloodHorse (@BloodHorse) March 21, 2023
Instant Coffee, a 3-year-old son of Bolt d’Oro, has the stamina to handle the added distance, with Empire Maker on his dam-side pedigree. In 2003, Empire Maker won the Belmont Stakes at 1 1/2 miles. Instant Coffee has won three of four lifetime starts, with the lone defeat coming in last October’s Grade I Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity.
Two double-digit entries may provide value in Saturday’s race. Disarm (10/1) finished second in his last start at Oaklawn Park when he failed to fire at the urging of jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. Disarm, a 3-year-old son of Gun Runner, could benefit from a jockey change to Joel Rosario.
Another Steve Asmussen trainee, Shopper’s Revenge, is regally bred by Tapit out of multiple Grade I winner Stopchargingmaria. Shopper’s Revenge is 12/1 on the morning line.
Photo: Getty Images