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Features - RACING

Animal Kingdom stormed home to win the Dubai World Cup by an easy two lengths (Photo courtesy Eclipse Sportswire).

Dubai World Cup day at Meydan Racecourse in Dubai is the richest day in racing. This year, more than $27 million in purses were offered over eight Thorougbred races, culminating with the $10 million Dubai World Cup. Since the Dubai World Cup moved from Nad Al Sheba’s dirt track to Meydan’s synthetic surface in 2010, only one U.S.-based horse had won a race on the World Cup card. However, this year the drought ended with Animal Kingdom’s win in the Dubai World Cup.

Derby Winner Takes Dubai World Cup

The richest race in the world, the Dubai World Cup has been won by star horses such as Cigar and Silver Charm. This year the United States was unofficially represented by three horses in the main event, including Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom, the first Derby winner to run in the Dubai World Cup since Silver Charm.

Animal Kingdom made his final prep for the Dubai World Cup in the U.S. and had never raced outside of the country before Saturday, but officially he raced in the World Cup for Australia, where he will stand at stud when his racing career is over.

In the end, Animal Kingdom came out an easy winner of the race to end the four-year Dubai World Cup drought for the American-based horses. The last time the Dubai World Cup had been won by a U.S.-based horse was in 2009 with Well Armed.

It was an American race from the start with champion Royal Delta taking the lead right out of the gate. Animal Kingdom took the second spot behind the two-time Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic winner. Animal Kingdom challenged Royal Delta around the turn, and as she started to fade he took the lead in the stretch.

From there on, it was all Animal Kingdom as he was never seriously challenged during his run to the finish line, easily pulling away. In the final stages of the stretch, Red Cadeaux made a late run to close the gap to two lengths.

“I knew we had a chance. I’ve never been here before,” said Joel Rosario, Animal Kingdom’s jockey. “This is my first time. I watched a lot of races. I had an idea where I needed to go from.  I listened to my trainer and to my horse.  He’s a very good horse.  He did it. He’s very quick.  It seemed like a long way home in the stretch.”After the race, when trainer Graham Motion was asked if the World Cup trophy would go on his mantle with the other trophies he had won in his career, he joked: “I don’t think it will fit.”

Animal Kingdom is only the second horse to pull off the Kentucky Derby/Dubai World Cup double. His latest victory takes his record to five wins in 11 starts. He is co-owned by Team Valor and Arrowfield Stud, who will stand him at stud in Australia later this year for the Southern Hemisphere season.

Royal Delta faded to 10th with jockey Mike Smith while Dullahan and Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens finished one spot behind her in 11th.

“My trip was good,” Mike Smith said of his ride on Royal Delta. “She just didn’t seem to care for [the track]. Every time she had to pick it up, she struggled.  After four or five passed her, we were pretty much done – then we just got home safe.”



Photo courtesy Eclipse Sportswire

Lines of Battle Strikes in UAE Derby

The United Arab Emirates Derby was the second most important race on the card for American racing fans. A race restricted to 3-year-olds, the UAE Derby was the first 100-point race in the new Road to the Kentucky Derby points system. Aidan O’Brien-trained Lines of Battle earned the points and cemented a Kentcuky Derby starting spot with his UAE Derby win.

Law Enforcement was the early leader of the bunched up field in the 1 3/16-mile race but as they entered the far turn, Lines of Battle got a brief lead. That time, the lead was short-lived as Snowboarder grabbed it on the turn. But with 300 meters left, Lines of Battle again took the lead and didn’t give it up again. He finished the race in a time of 2:02.05 with Elleval 1 ½ lengths back in second and favored Secret Number in third. 



Photo courtesy Horsephotos.com

"We wanted the race to be a true test, but it wasn't because of the slow pace, which made it a good win under the circumstances," O'Brien said.  "We are very pleased with him and will now go to the Kentucky Derby."

American runners Dice Flavor and He’s Had Enough finished eighth and 11th, respectively.

While Lines of Battle is trained in Ireland, the colt was bred in Kentucky by co-owner Joseph Allen. The Coolmore group co-owned colt is by War Front and out of a half-sister (different sire [father], same dam [mother]) to Dynaformer. Lines of Battle’s dam is by Arch, the broodmare sire of last year’s Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner I’ll Have Another. The win was Lines of Battle’s third in six starts. 

Little Mike No Match for Sajjhaa in Dubai Duty Free

Little Mike’s connections said before the Dubai Duty Free that they were going to send their gelding to the front and that’s what they did. The plan seemed like it might just work until the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Turf winner hit the stretch and didn’t have his normal kick.

As Little Mike was falling back, Sajjhaa rallied next to him on the way to setting a track record for 1 1/8 miles on the turf. Sajjhaa had been close to the leader for much of the race and came up the rail for the win. The Dubai Duty Free is the fourth straight win for the King’s Best mare, all at Meydan. No one was going to catch Sajjhaa, who won by 1 ¾ lengths, but The Apache and Giofra finished second and third, respectively.

"It was a great performance,” said Silvestre De Sousa, Sajjhaa’s jockey. “This filly is now 4 for 4 (in Dubai); she's just improved and improved since she came here. I had a good position early on and she made her way through on the inside. She's very tough and so genuine. I'm very pleased."

Little Mike faded to 11th after leading at most of the calls.



Photo courtesy Horsephotos.com

Shea Shea Sets Record in Al Quoz Sprint

A sprint at about five furlongs, the Al Quoz Sprint was run on the Meydan stretch with no turn to contend with. Even-money favorite Shea Shea entered the race with the quickest time over the distance and left it with an even quicker time.

The 16-horse field was in a large bunch for the beginning stages of the race with positions changing quickly in the group. American runner Varsity was one of the leaders but with 200 meters left to run, Shea Shea took the lead from his position in the middle of the track.

The 6-year-old gelding won by three-quarters of a length from Joy And Fun and did it in a track-record time of :56.41.

“He had the horse to go and fetch and it was just as we’d hoped,” said Mike de Kock, Shea Shea’s trainer. “Coming here is not easy. The horses do better the longer they are here and horses like him are geared for these types of races.”

Varsity finished sixth in the race with Great Attack running in 16th for most of the race before finishing 11th.

Shea Shea was bred in South Africa by Klawervlwei Stud and is owned by Brian Joffe and Myron Berzack. The National Emblem gelding provided trainer Mike de Kock with his second win on the card, his first coming with Soft Falling Rain.



Photo courtesy Horsephotos.com

Bit of Wizardry in Dubai Golden Shaheen

U.S. champion sprinter Trinniberg traveled to Dubai to make his 2013 debut in the Dubai Golden Shaheen, his first start since winning the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Sprint last November. The colt’s debut did not go as planned.

Trinniberg and fellow American Private Zone pushed each other in the first stages of the race with Taisei Legend also involving himself in the leading battle. The early run proved too much for the horses and Reynaldothewizard surged to the lead to win by a neck at odds of 7-1 in 1:12.46.

“I had the perfect trip. He was always traveling well,” said Richard Mullen, Reynaldothewizard’s jockey. “He gave me everything in the straight. This is the best winner of my career. It’s unbelievable and I’m so happy for Satish and all his team, and Zabeel Racing, his owners.  I’m overjoyed.”

Americans Private Zone and Trinniberg dropped back to finish ninth and 11th respectively.



Photo courtesy Horsephotos.com

Soft Falling Rain Impressive in Godolphin Mile

Travers Stakes winner Alpha competed in the Godolphin Mile, but the race was the crowning moment for a different horse, undefeated Southern Hemisphere 3-year-old Soft Falling Rain.

Red Jazz took an early lead with Capital Attraction and Alpha in second and third. But Alpha and jockey Silvestre De Sousa took the lead over quickly and the pair led for most of the race with Soft Falling Rain running around midpack.

Alpha yielded to Haatheq in the stretch and it looked like Soft Falling Rain may not be able to make it to the front in time to keep his perfect record intact but the favorite won by three-quarters of a length in the final strides in a time of 1:39.97. Haatheq finished second to give Soft Falling Rain’s owner Sheik Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktouman an exacta followed by Moonwalk In Paris (FR). Alpha finished fifth in the race.

“It was an amazing race and great thrill,” said Paul Hanagan, Soft Falling Rain’s jockey. “It ranked with my best ever wins. Before this my best was on Mayson in the July Cup last year.”

Soft Falling Rain is by National Assembly out of the Giant’s Causeway mare Gardener’s Delight. He is headed to Royal Ascot for his next start, trainer Mike de Kock said.



Photo courtesy Horsephotos.com

St Nicholas Abbey Back in Top Form in Dubai Sheema Classic

While The U.S. wasn’t represented in the Dubai Sheema Classic, there was still an American interest in the race with 2011 Breeders’ Cup Turf winner St Nicholas Abbey. With the same father-son team of Aidan and Joseph O’Brien that took him to the Breeders’ Cup win, St Nicholas Abbey upset Japan filly Triple Crown winner Gentildonna.

Shareta led the field soon out of the gate until the far turn, where St Nicholas Abbey made a move for the lead with Gentildonna going with him. The two separated themselves from the pack going to the wire but St Nicholas Abbey pulled away to win by 2 1/4 lengths in a course-record time of 2:27.70.

“I’d always felt this horse wanted to be ridden back but Joseph and (co-owner) Derrick (Smith) said they wanted him to be ridden forward and they got their way today, so perhaps they were right,” Aidan O’Brien said”

St Nicholas Abbey finished second in this race last year and last finished third in the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Turf in November. The Coolmore-owned horse has nine wins in 20 starts.



Photo courtesy Horsephotos.com

Dubai Gold Cup a Runaway Win for Cavalryman

While no Americans entered the Dubai Gold Cup, the 2-mile race provided plenty of excitement in the final stages. Saddler’s Rock led most of the way around the track with eventual winner Cavalryman relaxing in the sixth position with the field not making many changes throughout the first 1 ½ miles.

In the stretch, Saddler’s Rock and Tenenbaum battled, but it was all Cavalryman after the race favorite angled out and passed the field in midstretch to win by 3 ½ lengths in a time of 3:26.17. It was the 7-year-old horse’s first win since the Coral Marathon Esher Stakes in July 2012.

“Everything went to plan for me,” said Silvestre De Sousa, Cavalryman’s jockey. “It was a bit slow to halfway and I was happy when the pace quickened.  My horse traveled well and quickened up nicely.”

Cavalryman was bred by Darley and is owned by Godolphin.



Photo courtesy Horsephotos.com

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