World's richest race at Dubai tomorrow

Captain Steve, Aptitude are among top choices in $6 million World Cup

Horse Racing

March 23, 2001|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

Captain Steve and Aptitude, two runners based in the United States, are among the top three choices in the $6 million Dubai World Cup tomorrow at Nad Al Sheba Racecourse in the United Arab Emirates.

Captain Steve is the 8-5 morning-line favorite and Aptitude the 5-1 third choice. Godolphin Racing's Best of the Bests is 3-1.

As the richest race in the world, the Dubai World Cup headlines the richest day in horse racing. Purses for the six races for thoroughbreds total $15 million. Purses for the Breeders' Cup, North America's richest day, total $13 million.

Four of Dubai's races will be simulcast for wagering in this country, prompting tracks and off-track betting centers to open early. Pimlico, Laurel Park and Rosecroft Raceway will open at 9 a.m. The state's OTBs also will open early, but at varying times. The first Dubai simulcast will be at 9:40 a.m.

The World Cup will break from the gate about 12:15 p.m., featuring a dozen horses representing six countries. The attention this week has fallen on American trainers Bob Baffert (Captain Steve) and Bobby Frankel (Aptitude). Captain Steve is the favorite based on his dirt record in this country.

He has won eight of 20 races and earned $2.9 million. He won his last start, the Grade I Donn Handicap last month at Gulfstream Park. Last year as a 3-year-old, Captain Steve finished eighth in the Kentucky Derby and fourth in the Preakness.

Baffert said Captain Steve is a better, more mature horse at 4. However, the son of Fly So Free has never won at 1 1/4 miles, the World Cup distance.

"He's really in top form," Baffert was quoted as saying in dispatches from Dubai. "I just hope he stays healthy."

Said Captain Steve's jockey Jerry Bailey, who rode him in the Donn: "If he runs like he did in the States, he'll be very tough."

Bailey won the inaugural World Cup in 1996 with Cigar. He also won in 1997 with Singspiel.

Frankel, who won the Eclipse Award last year as outstanding North American trainer, has expressed confidence in his entrant, Aptitude. The 4-year-old closer will be ridden by Gary Stevens, but the A. P. Indy colt hasn't raced since November when he suffered a breathing problem. He underwent surgery to clear his airway.

Here's the simulcast schedule for the Dubai races: 9:40 a.m. $2 million Dubai Sheema Classic; 10:50 a.m. Dubai Golden Shaheen; 11:30 a.m. Dubai Duty Free; and 12:15 p.m. Dubai World Cup.

The $2 million United Arab Emirates Derby will not be broadcast. It features Street Cry, Godolphin's top prospect for the Kentucky Derby.

NOTES: Closing day Sunday at Laurel Park is fan appreciation day. Admission is free, a Laurel program is 50 cents, and certain seat, parking and concession prices are reduced.

Pimlico opens Wednesday.

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