03/30/2013 7:14AM

Dubai World Cup: Defending champ Monterosso scratched


DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Monterosso, the defending Dubai World Cup champion, was scratched from this year’s race early Saturday afternoon. No horse has ever won two editions of the $10 million World Cup, a streak that will continue at least until 2014.

Monterosso, a 6-year-old horse owned by Godolphin, was determined to be lame in his left foreleg by a veterinarian for the Emirates Racing Authority. Mikael Barzalona, who was scheduled to ride Monterosso, was shifted to another Godolphin runner, African Story. Kieren Fallon, named on African Story, is out of a World Cup mount.

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Third in the 2011 World Cup, Monterosso finished fourth last year in the Maktoum Challenge Round 3 before scoring a decisive World Cup win. Little has gone right since. Monterosso finished a distant eighth in the July 7 Eclipse Stakes at Sandown Park in England, was put away for several months, and returned to serious training late last year for another World Cup run. But Monterosso, who has madde only six starts in the last 31 months, never could get right this winter, according to his trainer, Mahmoud  Al Zarooni. Monterosso battled soreness throughout his winter preparations, Al Zarooni said earlier this week, and could only finish a flat 10th on March 9 in the Maktoum Challenge Round 3. Rumors abounded for more than a week that he would be scratched from the World Cup, and the announcement finally came about nine hours before the World Cup’s scheduled post time.

His defection leaves the World Cup with a field of 12, and allows African Story, Animal Kingdom, and Kassiano - the three horses drawn outside Monterosso - to move one slot closer to the rail in the starting gate.