01/06/2015 3:28PM

Dubai World Cup Carnival opens with new dirt track


The Dubai World Cup Carnival is back Thursday with the first of 10 cards this winter and spring, and equally important, dirt is back as the main-track surface at Dubai’s major racing center.

When glittery, massive Meydan Racecourse opened in 2010, it featured an all-weather main track, but after five seasons of racing, the Tapeta surface was removed last spring and replaced with a dirt track. The old track at Nad Al Sheba, which hosted the first 14 editions of the Dubai World Cup, had a dirt main track, and the $10 million World Cup on March 28 will be contested on dirt for the first time since Well Armed won the race in 2009.

Well Armed became the eighth American-trained World Cup winner, but a once-formidable U.S. presence at the World Cup meeting dwindled to nearly nothing by 2014, that despite the fact that the U.S.-based Animal Kingdom won the 2013 World Cup. The new dirt track at Meydan, however, should immediately induce a significant U.S. presence for the big races at the end of March.

For the time being, however, it is Dubai-based runners filling out the races on Thursday’s first Carnival program, which features Round 1 of the Maktoum Challenge, a $250,000 race over about one mile on the new dirt track.

:: DUBAI WORLD CUP CARNIVAL: Get PPs, watch Thursday’s Meydan card live

Surfer looks very much the one to beat in the Maktoum Challenge. A World Cup Carnival regular the last two years, Surfer finished a decent second to Hunter’s Light last season in the Maktoum Challenge Round 2, but that all-weather race over 9 1/2 furlongs suited Surfer less than Thursday’s shorter dirt run.

Surfer probably is at his best racing one mile, and the American-bred son of Distorted Humor is the race’s best dirt winner, having beaten several of his Thursday rivals Dec. 18 at Meydan in the listed Dubai Creek Mile. Ennobled Friend, who set the pace and held second in the Dec. 18 race, is back Thursday, while Outstrip, a turf horse to date, is the highest-rated runner among 15 entrants.

The Thursday feature goes as race 6 of seven on a card that starts at 9:45 a.m. Eastern. The supporting feature is race 5, the $150,000 Singspiel over about nine furlongs on turf.

harpharper . More than 1 year ago
What??? Horses running on dirt? What will they think of next??? Fish swimming in water?!!
reainusa More than 1 year ago
Wouldn't it be cool if they put people on those horses and see if they can make it all the way around without falling off!
Joel Firsching More than 1 year ago
japan will dominate
Capo Capo More than 1 year ago
Time to make the Sheema classic the race with the 10 million dollar purse. Why make the richest race a walkover for USA bred horses? Who will compete against them on dirt?, Poly runners from Lingfield or Wolverhampton? Give me a break. The Sheema Classic is heads and shoulders above the rest of the races during the carnival.
Matthew Hood More than 1 year ago
It's called a carnival because they want to celebrate the thoroughbred by racing at all distances and on different surfaces. Poly track just ended up being to much like a grass surface, so why have it? Why make the Classic the higher purse? Guess you would have to ask the Maktoum's that.
Capo Capo More than 1 year ago
I said why. The field in the Sheema Classic is FAR better in quality then the World Cup. Even the Duty free has a better field. Look at the horses who ran 1-2-3-4-5 in the Sheema Classic. Gentildonna, Cirrus Des Aigles, My Ambivalent, Empoli, Dominant, Magician. That is GR1 winner after GR1 winner. You take the turf runner s who corss entered and chose the money over surface will be running on Turf now, instead of dirt, so the World cup field will dwindle further. you are not celebrating anything when you have no quality being offered. The World cup should be a GR2 like the Godolphin Mile. The World Cup had,
Capo Capo More than 1 year ago
Delete World cup had...sorry.
Boyd Cord More than 1 year ago
People really need to study this track, once you adapt to the non US racing program you'll be surprised how well you do. The last day is another Breeder's cup day . I think it will sets up great for Bayern , Chrome, Shared Belief. That track will be perfect.
Capo Capo More than 1 year ago
Which is why the switch to dirt is a joke. No competition unless you have top dirt runners from the USA battle each other. A glorified USA Stake disguised as a UAE GR1.