Three year old race horses get the bulk of the attention in the United States and particularly from the casual fans and mainstream sports media. Three year olds contend for the major Triple Crown races including the Kentucky Derby but the reality is that these horses are very young from a competitive standpoint. While some horses are strong competitors at this young of an age many horses don’t reach their prime until much older. That’s the case with Todd Pletcher’s Mshawish, a six year old turf specialist that could give 2013 Kentucky Derby winner California Chrome a ton of trouble in the $10 million Dubai World Cup on March 26.
Mshawish isn’t exactly a ‘household name’ like California Chrome. He’s not even a big name among racing fans like some of the other American horses challenging for the Dubai World Cup such as Frosted and Keen Ice. His career has had its ups and downs to be sure. Until last year, his biggest claim to fame was a fourth place finish in the Group 1 French Derby in 2013. He traveled to Dubai last year with plans to race in the $6 million turf event on the World Cup undercard. While in Dubai he encountered a foot problem and his participation was in doubt until the last minute. While he was most likely at less than 100% he finished third. He’s come on strong this year winning the Grade 1 Donn Handicap by two lengths and looking like he had a lot left in the tank.
In the past few days Mshawish went from just another horse in the field to a darling of wise guys thanks to a video of his last workout before leaving for Dubai at Palm Beach Downs in Florida. He clocked at 58.80 seconds for five furlongs and looked to have plenty left in the gallop out. The exercise rider had to do little to urge him on. Many handicappers like to see a strong final work before a big race and it doesn’t get much stronger than this. No one is happier than trainer Todd Pletcher: “It was a terrific work coming at a key time, indicating he’s gearing up at a good time. That was his major work for his race. I don’t anticipate he’ll have any real speed work while he’s in Dubai. Maybe he’ll catch the bridle on one of his gallops, but we’re not planning on a timed breeze.”