Dubai World Cup day is Saturday, March 25, and it’s an event that racing fans from around the globe look forward to each spring, with $29 million up for grabs across eight races that attract some of the best Thoroughbreds worldwide.
Like the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, Dubai World Cup races have varied distances, surfaces and purse value. The marquee race, the Dubai World Cup itself, is worth a whopping $10 million and has been won by the likes of Cigar, Silver Charm, Invasor, Curlin and California Chrome. This year, Arrogate, Gun Runner and Hoppertunity are among the U.S.-based hopes for the race.
The races take place at Meydan Racecourse in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and are put on by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, vice president and prime minister of the UAE and ruler of Dubai.
There’s no betting allowed in the country, so thousands come to the track just to see the spectacle, including entertainers, singers and fireworks, and experience great horse racing. Learn more about the contenders for the Dubai World Cup and find out below what other races are featured on the day.
$10 million Dubai World Cup
Watch TV coverage live on NBC Sports at 10:30 a.m. ET
The Dubai World Cup is contested at the American classic distance of 1 ¼ miles (2,000 meters) on the dirt. It was first run in 1996, and American-trained horses have won the race 10 times, including Cigar in the inaugural edition and California Chrome last year.
Besides facing some of the planet’s best horses, shipping around the world poses an extra challenge for American-trained Thoroughbreds, as weather in most of the U.S. is just starting to heat up in March while the desert of the UAE is already warm, plus horses must adjust to the significant time-zone difference as well as new surroundings. Some American horses also race on the anti-bleeding medication Lasix (furosemide), which is not allowed in Dubai.
Here are some of the contenders for this year’s Dubai World Cup:
Arrogate: 2017 Pegasus World Cup winner; 2016 Travers Stakes and Breeders’ Cup Classic winner
Gold Dream: Japan-based winner of 2017 February Stakes at Tokyo Racecourse
Gun Runner: 2016 Clark Handicap and Louisiana Derby winner, 2016 Kentucky Derby third-place finisher
Hoppertunity: Career earner of more than $4 million; multiple Grade 1 winner, including 2016 Jockey Club Gold Cup
Keen Ice: Defeated American Pharoah in the 2015 Travers; recent fourth in Pegasus World Cup behind Arrogate
Lani: 2016 Belmont Stakes third-place finisher; based in Japan
Long River: 2017 Al Maktoum Challenge - Round 3 winner at Meydan; son of Breeders’ Cup Distaff winner Round Pond, formerly based in U.S.
Mubtaahij: 2015 UAE Derby winner owned by Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa al Maktoum
Neolithic: Recent third-place finisher in Pegasus World Cup
Other Dubai World Cup Day Races:
$1 million Godolphin Mile: 1 mile (1,600 meters) on the dirt
$1 million Dubai Gold Cup: 2 miles (3,200 meters) on the turf
$2 million UAE Derby: 1 3/16 miles (1,900 meters) on the dirt for 3-year-olds; winner gets 100 points toward Kentucky Derby
$1 million Al Quoz Sprint: Six furlongs (1,200 meters) on the turf
$2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen: Six furlongs (1,200 meters) on the dirt
$6 million Dubai Turf: 1 1/8 miles (1,800 meters) on the turf
$6 million Longines Dubai Sheema Classic: About 1 ½ miles (2,410 meters) on the turf