Bob Baffert is hoping to repeat history as he bids for a second straight Dubai World Cup title and fourth overall this week.
Baffert, who saddled last year’s winner Arrogate, had previously won Dubai’s flagship equine prize with Silver Charm in 1998 and Captain Steve in 2001. This year he has two entries - West Coast and Mubtaahij.
"I’ve been very fortunate,” he said after watching his pair of horses complete a spin at the Meydan Racecourse track on Tuesday. “Every time I’ve gone over with the favourite I’ve been lucky to win it. Hopefully, that trend continues, but you still need racing luck.”
West Coast is the reigning American champion three-year-old colt and is the favourite in the 10-runner field. He has won five of his eight starts, including two Grade 1 prizes, and runner up twice.
The bay colt by Flatter was third behind Gun Runner in the Grade 1 Breeder’s Cup Classic at the Delmar racecourse and was runner up behind the same horse US$16 million (Dh58.76m) Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup, the world’s richest race in Gulfstream Park, in his two most recent starts.
“He needs to show up and run his race,” Baffert said. “He should be the favourite based on what he’s accomplished. He’s run into some pretty nice horses and Gun Runner [second to Arrogate in 2017] is not in there and there’s no Arrogate.”
Baffert watched his two runners for the first time after they were flown from the United States.
“West Coast is a big, tough, horse and he shipped well and is carrying his weight well,” he said. “I gave him a little easy half mile [800 metres] and he looked great doing it. He's happy and doing great and that's all you can ask for at this stage.”
Mubtaahij runs in the silks of Dubai owner Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa and finished fourth in the race last year. He was second in 2016 behind California Chrome.
Baffert will take it easy on his two runners easy until the race day after their final workout on Tuesday.
“That's all we wanted to do today,” he said. “We're going to go easy from here. They won't come out on the track tomorrow.
“They'll just walk and then jog and gallop up to the race on Saturday. We’re looking forward to it, but this race is a real challenge for a trainer, for me.
“It’s totally different [from racing in America]. You have to really know your horse and understand how they’re responding. It’s not easy, but to win the big prize is really exciting and I feel good about both horses.”