This weekend the racing world will be focused on the Dubai World Cup to be held at the new Meydan Racecourse for the first time. The $26 million day of racing in the United Arab Emirates is highlighted by the Dubai World Cup, a $10 million race where the winner's share is a cool $6 million. American-based dual Eclipse winner Gio Ponti is the 7-2 favorite. He will face 13 international runners, including two from his own homeland, Richard's Kid and Furthest Land. Coverage of the races begins Saturday, at 9:30 a.m. ET on HRTV.
Stateside, the weekends graded stakes schedule begins on Friday with the G3 Fair Grounds Oaks. After having won the Tiffany Lass and Silverbulletday (G3) this year, Jody Slew has the chance to sweep the 3-year-old stakes series for fillies. She outfinished Quite Temper by only a nose in the Silverbulletday and those two meet up again in the 1/16-mile Oaks. The tepid morning line favorite is Todd Pletcher's Ailalea.
There will be a trio of Derby preps this weekend; on Saturday, Turfway Park in Northern Kentucky has the Lane's End, Fair Grounds has the Louisiana Derby, and on Sunday, the Sunland Derby takes place in New Mexico. All are G2 races to be run at 1 1/8 miles. The Lane's End, the only one of the three that will be on a synthetic surface, Southern California invader Connemara should be the one to catch. Two races prior to the Lane's End will be the G3 Bourbonette Oaks with probable favorite Helen Belen, who scored by almost 15 lengths in her last out, the Valdale.
A contentious field of 13 has been entered for the Louisiana Derby with Discreetly Mine the 7-2 favorite. Among his challengers are Ron the Greek and Drosselmeyer. Discreetly Mine and Drosselmeyer are based in South Florida, but both ran in the Risen Star Feb. 20 at the Fair Grounds oval in New Orleans, finishing first and fourth, respectively. The Louisiana Derby is the 10th out of 13 races on the card which also features the G2 New Orleans Handicap (race 8) and the G2 Mervin H. Muniz Handicap (race 9).
The Sunland Derby, graded for the first time, has a field of nine going postward headed by Conveyance, a two-time graded stakes winner this year. Nacho Friend, coming off a third-place finish in the G3 Gotham at Aqueduct, appears to be his main rival here.
Gulfstream Park will host a pair of 1 ½-mile turf stakes this weekend—the G3 Pan American for males on Saturday, and the G3 Orchid on Sunday for females. The Pan Am has lured a field of 10 (with one main track only entry) that includes Winchester, a slight morning line favorite over Never On Sunday, and Brass Hat, a sentimental favorite, who is making his 2010 debut as a 9-year-old. In the Orchid we'll see Lady Shakespeare, who seems to show up in the entries whenever a turf route stakes is carded, along with Cable and Mushka.
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