As expected, the names of Pleasantly Perfect (by Pleasant Colony) and Medaglia d'Oro (El Prado) were the standouts among the 12 declarations for the world's richest horse race, Saturday night's 10-furlong Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) on the Nad Al Sheba dirt. The duo, first and second, respectively, in last year's Breeders' Cup Classic – Powered by Dodge (gr. I), are joined in the select field by compatriots Domestic Dispute and Fleetstreet Dancer but would appear to justify the joint favoritism they have been attributed by bookmakers. Both have pleased connections since arrival and Richard Mandella-trained Pleasantly Perfect would appear to have recovered from the problem that forced him to miss his last intended start before his arrival in the UAE. The mount of Alex Solis, he is sure to take a lot of beating with conditions sure to suit. However, Bobby Frankel-trained Medaglia d'Oro has perhaps caught the imagination slightly more since his arrival. The mount of Jerry Bailey, who is seeking an amazing fifth win in a race that is only staging its ninth renewal, Medaglia d'Oro was runner-up in the Breeders' Cup Classic but many good judges feel he is capable of reversing that form. He really caught the eye under local champion jockey Gary Hind on Sunday morning and the jockey knew he was on a serious horse: "He is good isn't he? He gave a really nice feel. I am available in the World Cup if they need a jockey," he joked afterwards. Doug O'Neill-trained Fleetstreet Dancer (Smart Strike) and Patrick Gallagher's Domestic Dispute (Unbridled's Song) would appear less likely winners, as would last year's Grand Hombre (Grand Slam), who is now in the care of Godolphin. Elsewhere on the card, Stephen Margolis' Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I) winner Cajun Beat (Grand Slam) would appear the one to beat in the six-furlong Golden Shaheen (UAE-I) and Bailey has to be hopeful of a big race group 1 double. His 12 opponents include Todd Pletcher-trained Alke (Grand Slam), who beat Cajun Beat last time out, and John Sadler's Our New Recruit, Julio Canani's Tsigane and Myra Mora's Tour of the Cat (Tour d'Or). Meanwhile, Bob Baffert's During (Cherokee Run), again the mount of Bailey, would appear to have an outstanding chance in the Godolphin Mile (UAE-II), in which O'Neill's Excessivepleasure (In Excess) also has to be respected.
Neil Drysdale's From The Sky, a group 1 winner in his native Argentina, was a surprise absentee among the UAE Derby declarations, meaning the trainer is reliant upon Dubai Duty Free (UAE-I) challenger Sarafan (Lear Fan) for big night glory. Sarafan is contesting arguably the most competitive race of the night and may have to settle for place money. Ken McPeek saddles recent grade 1 winner Hard Buck (Spend a Buck) in the Sheema Classic (UAE-I) over 12-furlongs and the Brazilian-bred colt is clearly more at home on the turf this race is contested, than the dirt in which he was well beaten in last year's UAE Derby.