03/29/2011 4:07PM

Yanks Tank It in Dubai; Tarara for Darara


The o-fer pulled by the 12 American-trained horses at Meydan on Saturday night marked the first time since 2003 that the U.S. has failed to produce at least one winner on Dubai World Cup Night, and only the second time in the 15-year history of the event. Was this merely an aberration, or is it a sign of the times reflective of the quality of the American Thoroughbred? Or shall we blame it on the failure of American horses to adapt to the synthetic surface at Meydan?

Addressing the last question first, the performances of Victoire Pisa and Transcend, the first and second-place finishers in the Dubai World Cup, put the lie to the excuse that switching to a synthetic surface- in this case Tapeta- is fraught with difficulty. Neither of the Japanese horses had raced on a synthetic surface prior to the World Cup. All 12 of Victoire Pisa's previous runs had been on turf, while Transcend's previous 11 outings had been on dirt. Prior to those 11 he had run four times, twice on dirt and twice on turf.

Euroears put in the best effort by an American horse with his good second to Rocket Man in the Dubai Golden Shaheen. The Bob Baffert trainee was, like Transcend, making the supposedly difficult switch from dirt to synthetics, yet handled the switch with aplomb, running very much to form.

In the days when there were only two surfaces to contend with, dirt and turf, there was an old adage to the effect that good horses should be able to run on any surface. Victoire Pisa, Transcend and Euroears proved that on Saturday.
Fly Down, on the other hand, was all at sea at Meydan, finishing last of 14 in the World Cup. But in doing so he was merely extending a losing streak that has now reached seven races and stretches back to May 2010. That he is not Group 1 quality on the international level was proven in the World Cup. Much the same can be said for Godolphin Mile flops Make Music For Me and I Want Revenge.

In finishing fifth in the World Cup, Gio Ponti ran very much the same race he had a year earlier when he had been fourth behind Gloria de Campeao. Was he in need of a race? It would appear that he was. Both Victoire Pisa and Transcend had won their respective World Cup trials, the strategy taken by their trainers paying dividends of an historic nature.

The big disappointment of the night was the scratching of Kinsale King from the Golden Shaheen. Deprived of a chance to defend his title, he opened the way for Rocket Man, who was clearly the best horse in what remained of the race.

The second biggest disappointment, from an American point of view at least, was the utter failure of Bourbon Bay and Champ Pegasus in the Dubai Sheema Classic. On paper they appeared to be in the same class as Redwood, Chinchon and Dangerous Midge. In reality, they were exposed as horses that simply can't stay 12 furlongs on the international level. The failure of the last-place Dangerous Midge, who had beaten Champ Pegasus into second in the Breeders' Cup Turf after a bloodless victoy in the Group 3 Arc Trial, confirmed the belief that last fall's BC Turf at Churchill Downs was the weakest in the history of the race. It will not get any stronger as long as American breeders continue to deny the value of stamina. And if there is nothing of homegrown quality to compete against in the BC Turf, the best European 12-furlong horses will no longer find the race worth the trip, especially with viable options in Australia, Japan and Hong Kong.

Victor's Cry gave it the old college try in the Dubai Duty Free but he was never catching the leaders through the latter stages. After Saturday's action American-trained horses remain winless on turf in Dubai.

Almost as disappointing as Bourbon Bay and Champ Pegasus were the three Yanks in the Al Quoz Sprint. American speed failed to materialize as Stradivinsky, Quick Enough and Mr Gruff were never close up at any stage of the 5-furlong turf Group 2.

It was hoped that Sweet Ducky might give us a hint as to where American 3-year-olds stood with respect to at least some of their foreign competition. But in finishing thirteenth of 14 in the UAE Derby, beaten 37 1/2 lengths, we can draw no conclusions, except to say that Sweet Ducky did his Holy Bull conqueror Dialed In no favors, especailly as Dialed In has since failed in at 1-5 in a mere optional claimer at Gulfstream Park.

Godolphin emerged as the one of the big winners on the night with three victories: Skysurfers in the Godolphin Mile, the filly Khawlah in the UAE Derby, and Rewilding in the Sheema Classic. Perhaps an even bigger winner was Rewilding's dam Darara.

In Rewilding, Darara was producing the Sheema Classic winner for the second year in a row, her Singspiel mare Dar Re Mi having won the race in 2010. Now a venerable 28 years of age, Darara is a daughter of Top Ville out of the Abdos mare Delsy. In 1986 she won the 1 1/2-mile, Group 1 Prix Vermeille and the 1 1/4-mile, Group 3 Prix de Psyche when trained by Alain de Royer-Dupre for her owner/breeder, the Aga Khan.

Darara's first stakes winner was Dariyoun, a Shahrasatani colt who took the Gran Premio de Madrid in 1992 before moving to France where he won a listed race at Maisons-Laffitte. A 1989 mating with Nijinsky produced in Dardjini the winner of the 1997 Grade 1 Denny Gold Novice Chase at Leopardstown.

Darara's Sadler's Wells colt Darazari won the 1 5/8-mile, Group 2 Prix de Maurice de Nieuil at Maisons-Laffitte in 1996. Another son of Sadler's Wells, Diaghilev, won the 1 1/4-mile, Group 3 Prix La Force at Chantilly in 2002 before moving to Hong Kong where, racing as River Dancer, he won the 2004 renewal of the 1 1/4-mile, Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup.

Dariyoun, Dardjini and Darazari were all bred by the Aga Khan. After being purchased by Andrew Lloyd-Webber, Darara produced River Dancer (ex-Diaghilev), Dar Re Mi and Rewilding for the composer's Watership Down Stud.

Dar Re Mi, who raced in Lloyd-Webber's colors, had preceded her Sheema Classic heroics with Group 1 victories in the 1 1/4-mile Pretty Polly Stakes and the 1 1/2-mile Yorkshire Oaks. She also crossed the line first in the 2009 Prix Vermeille, only to lose the race in the stewards' room in what many believed was an unjust decision.

The Mahmoud Al Zarooni-trained Rewilding finished third in last year's Epsom Derby behind runaway winner Workforce before landing the 1 1/2-mile, Group 2 Great Voltigeur Stakes. That he was winning the Sheema Classic off a 6 1/2-month absence bodes very well for his chances in all of the big 12-furlong races around the world this year. He is expected to be seen next at Epsom on June 3 in the Coronation Cup.

Darara was pensioned off after producing Rewilding, since when she has joined Hasili and Better Than Honour as one of the world's best broodmares.