By Ed McNamara
In the days leading up to the $12 million Dubai World Cup at Meydan Racecourse in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on March 27, usracing.com will profile the contenders for the 2,000-meter (about 1 ¼ miles) race. The profiles will be updated with odds, post positions and jockeys following the post-position draw scheduled for Wednesday (March 24).
A drop in class helped Title Ready earn his first stakes win in 17 tries with a wide rally in the Grade 3 Louisiana Stakes Jan. 16 at the Fair Grounds. He perked up after running 10th in the Grade 1 Clark Stakes and seventh in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Before the race in New Orleans, trainer Dallas Stewart said, “I think the company will be a little lighter for him.” That couldn’t have been more of an understatement.
Finishing third was Wells Bayou, last year’s Louisiana Derby (G2) winner, so Title Ready wasn’t outrunning nobodies. Still, he’s lost 16 of his last 19 races, so you probably are wondering what he’s doing in a $12 million race. Me, too.
“He tries hard every time he runs,” Stewart said. “That’s the type of horse you want to be around.”
He’s made more than $650,000 with Stewart, whose longshots often outrun their odds to run second in major races. His top four underneath scores — Macho Again (40-1, 2008 Preakness); Golden Soul (34-1, 2013 Kentucky Derby); Commanding Curve (37-1, 2014 Derby) and Tale of Verve (28-1, 2015 Preakness).
Handicapping insight: I doubt very much if Title Ready will continue that tradition for Stewart. For me, he’s a throwout in the megabucks extravaganza at Meydan.
Post position: TBD
Trainer: Dallas Stewart
Owner: Charles Fipke
Career record: 25-5-6-4
Career earnings: $656,680
Top Equibase speed figure: 114
Pedigree: More Than Ready-Title Seeker, by Monarchos
Color: Dark bay
Running style: Closer
Notes: Stewart is a patient trainer who does his best work with distance horses. Besides finishing second four times at big odds in the Derby and Preakness, he’s made his mark in the Kentucky Oaks and Breeders’ Cup Distaff. Lemons Forever’s $96.20 payoff in 2006 set an Oaks record, and Stewart took the Distaff in 2001 with Unbridled Elaine and in 2006 with Forever Unbridled … Stewart, 61, is a native of Mississippi. He’s a smart, funny, articulate guy who spent 12 years as an assistant for D. Wayne Lukas before going out on his own in 1997. While with Lukas, Stewart helped to develop champions Lady’s Secret, Thunder Gulch and Serena’s Song.
Ed McNamara is an award-winning journalist who has been writing about thoroughbred racing for 35 years. He has handicapped races for ESPN.com, Newsday and The Record of New Jersey. He is the author of “Cajun Racing: From the Bush Tracks to the Triple Crown” and co-author of “The Most Glorious Crown,” a chronicle of the first 12 Triple Crown champions.