03/21/2013 3:28PM

Dubai World Cup looks like field of 13 at Meydan

Tom Keyser
Little Mike, eighth in Round 3 of the Maktoum Challenge, looks headed to the Dubai Duty Free on grass.

Thirteen horses are expected to be entered next week in the $10 million Dubai World Cup, the March 30 centerpiece of what figures to be an outstanding night of racing in the desert.

[FULL LIST: 2013 Dubai World Cup Fields]

The anticipated World Cup field includes 10 Group or Grade 1 winners, including the 2012 World Cup winner, Monterosso, as well a three-horse U.S.-based contingent many are calling the strongest sent to Dubai since the World Cup was moved from Nad Al Sheba to Meydan in 2010. Dullahan already has made a start at Meydan, finishing a troubled 11th in the March 9 Burj Nahaar, while two-time Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic winner Royal Delta and Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom arrived with the rest of the North American horses earlier this week. Royal Delta finished ninth in the 2012 World Cup, the victim of a difficult trip. Animal Kingdom is racing his way toward Southern Hemisphere stud duty later this year and made his final U.S. start last month in the Gulfstream Park Turf Championship, where he finished second behind Point of Entry.

Monterosso is one of five Godolphin horses listed as probable World Cup runners, and though he wears the crown of defending champion in the race, Monterosso could finish only 10th in the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 3, his first start of the winter racing season in Dubai. Monterosso’s stablemate Capponi would be making his first start since a second-place finish in the 2012 World Cup if he indeed lines up for this year’s edition. Hunter’s Light has been one of the stars of the World Cup Carnival this winter, winning both rounds 2 and 3 of the Maktoum Challenge by about three lengths. African Story won the Godolphin Mile in 2012 but may take a swing the night’s big event after a sharp comeback win in the Burj Nahaar.

[DUBAI WORLD CUP: Complete DRF coverage, live video from Meydan]

There are eight other U.S.-based horses scheduled to race on the World Cup card, most prominent among them Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Little Mike. Little Mike finished eighth in the Maktoum Challenge Round 3, his first start on an all-weather track, and is listed as a probable runner in the $5 million Duty Free on turf, his connections apparently leaning toward that race over about 1 1/8 miles rather than the $5 million Sheema Classic at about 1 1/2 miles.

The Duty Free, which has 14 probable runners, looks like a deeper race than the Sheema Classic, but the Classic is expected to draw the Japanese superstar filly Gentildonna, winner of the Group 1 Japan Cup in her most recent start last November. Little Mike would face no runner of that proven quality in the Duty Free, but will have a host of worthy challengers such as Sajjhaa, Trade Storm, The Apache, and Mushreq. Among the better known names in the Sheema Classic are St Nicholas Abbey and Shareta.

Trinniberg, the Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner, is part of a good American pair in the Golden Shaheen, an all-weather sprint over about six furlongs, with Private Zone another viable threat to win the race. Mental, an Australian import, was impressive in his lone start of the winter, while defending champion Krypton Factor is eligible to improve.

U.S. runners Great Attack and Varsity will, like Little Mike, attempt to become the first American-based horse to win a turf race when they start in the Al Quoz Sprint, a race in which the Mike de Kock-trained Shea Shea should be solidly favored. Two more Americans, He’s Had Enough and Dice Flavor, are among 13 probable runners in the UAE Derby, but, somewhat surprisingly, there are no U.S. horses in the Godolphin Mile, the night’s other main-track race. The Godolphin Mile includes 16 probables, including star South African import Soft Falling Rain, and looks like one of the better editions of the race.

Completing the Thoroughbred portion of the card is the Dubai Gold Cup, a two-mile turf race.

aaronrayk More than 1 year ago
Dullahan, ridden by Kieren Fallon last out in the Burj Nahaar is a race to completely put a line thru. Te horse was nudged to get early position since the opening of the gate, which is absurd since the horse is an off-the-pace runner. He broke TWO track records on synthetic surface as a 3 year old; in the 2012 Bluegrass Stakes at 1 1/8 at Keeneland, & also in the 2012 Pacific Classic at 1 1/4 at Del Mar. The horse loves the All Weather, is in fact 3 for 4, those 3 wins all Grade 1's. It may be safe to say that he coulv'e been 4 for 4 if not for the terrible ride he had in the Burj Najaar. Those horse does NOT like the Turf whatsoever, line thru those as well. I'm pretty confident he'll be sent off somewhere in the neighborhood of 20/1 (partly due since he has finished off the board his last 3 races) and I'll place a pretty decent WIN PLACE & SHOW bet on him.
Robert More than 1 year ago
Not all synthetic surfaces are the same though. Yeah, he's a killer on Polytrack, but he's never won over a Tapeta surface. Frankly, I think synthetic surfaces are ruining racing. If God had meant horses to race on rubber, the Derby would be in Akron instead of Louisville.
commenting More than 1 year ago
The fact that Dullahan went early and got a start under his girth, he'll be the toughest of the NA horses. The horses that didn't ship until this week won't stand a chance.
Nicholas Heaven More than 1 year ago
Royal Delta to win da world cup classic hands down. She will pay between $9 &$11. She will blow dem away with vet jock mike smith.
Tom Wilson More than 1 year ago
No wonder horse racing thrives in the U.S. with morons like you betting all your money on a horse that doesn't have a Chinaman's chance in HELL of hitting the board, much less winning!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Mark Ford More than 1 year ago
Name calling Tom really? This is an OPINION board. Your the only one sounding like a moron.
John Howland More than 1 year ago
I wonder how many of these horses would go over there if the owners had to pay their own way?Not too many.
Debra Medlock More than 1 year ago
I think you're right!
Vinod Jhangimal More than 1 year ago
http://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/articles/77010/black-caviar-electrifies-in-24th-career-win Sorry DRF, this has been up for over an hour and no mention in your website at all. Call it a public service announcement.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Please wager against Animal Kingdom. More for me! Wow, stud fee through the roof in Southern Hemisphere. He will retire after he wins this weekend, unfortunately is my guess. One of the best in the last10 years (this is a big horse that eats up a lot of ground with each stride, a la most recently Zenyatta). Only wish he had stayed healthier and gotten more races over his career. One of my favorites and grossly under appreciated Kentucky Derby champion.
Mark More than 1 year ago
Lost his last two .
Cameron More than 1 year ago
Under-appreciated? I like Animal Kingdom, he's a nice horse, but he's only won 4 races and only 2 stakes. I'm glad that he's still running, which seems to be really out of the norm these days, but just because he's still running - and not necessarily winning - doesn't make him a superstar or anything.
John Howland More than 1 year ago
The Derby was his last graded stakes win.I know he has had more issues than Lindsay Lohan,but 23 months since his last graded win,is he really "grossly" under appreciated?That said,I hope he wins or at least makes a very good showing of himself.
Jeffrey More than 1 year ago
Animal Kingdom has proven form on synthetic. All three of his races on Polytrack were solid (two wins and one second) and he should savor the 10F distance. I think he represents our best chance at winning the World Cup. Royal Delta is hopelessly outmatched and Dullahan's last race was horrid. However, I would not be completely shocked if Dullahan put in a decent effort given his past efforts on synthetic. Many trainers and commentators act as though all synthetic tracks are created equal. I think there is a bit more nuance, with some horses showing preference for polytrack, tapeta, cushion, etc. Although I prefer dirt racing, if there is one positive about the World Cup being on synthetic, it is that it allows for high caliber international fields. That being said, it seems that horses who train for long periods in Meydan have a substantial advantage. I'm sure part of it is being acclimated to the climate, but extensive training over the track has to confer some advantage. Perhaps American trainers would be well-advised to put in a race or two before the World Cup. Dullahan's connections made a smart decision. Nevertheless, I still think Animal Kingdom is our best prospect given his talent and versatility.
Nicholas Heaven More than 1 year ago
Obviously u dont know what u talking about if u say RD is outmatched. She is the best thoroghbred in a america and if she had ran in da BC classic Fort Learned and Mucho Macho Man wud be running for second and third. If u wanna make mooney box RD and AK. But make sure u bet RD to win. On race day check da tote board and u will see da betting interest. Go Willy Mott.
michael stapler More than 1 year ago
Too slow... Runs in slow paced races. What are you watching? Fantasy tv?
Big Jeff More than 1 year ago
Not one comment from the Baffert/ Pletcher bashers about Godolphin running five horses. Kind of reminds me of the Gulfstream Park Handicap. Alot of silence there too.
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
Hi Big Jeff... I don't like Baffert. I don't like Pletcher. I don't like their 'Daddy' DWayne. The three of them have overloaded races at times and I didn't like either that but wudda ya gonna do? That GP Hndcap was a non-race the moment Ft Larneds' nose hit the track but wudda ya gonna do? So what is it you want to say to the Godolphins? Sheez, man!
Horse Cents More than 1 year ago
Let's see. If I held a baseball tournament half way around the world. And I built one of the finest stadiums in the world. And I put up the biggest prize money anywhere on earth. And I invited the best teams, and arranged or paid for travel to get there. And I put them up in the finest living quarters and allowed them to live like kings for the time they are there. I don't think it would be a problem if I stacked the deck with the best players I could buy for myself. And I don't think anyone would have the audacity to come up to me and complalin about it.
Rene More than 1 year ago
godolphin wins hands down....i don't know which one but definitely one of them...my picks.....capponi or african story.....,.yeah yuh......
Dave More than 1 year ago
Of the 3 American invaders, the one with the best chance is AK. I'm really hoping Royal Delta takes some action because she looks overmatched. A girl beating the boys in the biggest race internationally?
Mark More than 1 year ago
What u willing to give heah to head rd vs. Ak?
Debra Medlock More than 1 year ago
Can happen! ie., Black Cavier, Zenyatta, Dalia, Waya, shall I go on?
Mark More than 1 year ago
He's had enough ? Cmon man.
scott More than 1 year ago
Agreed Mark. The connects made how many millions on I'll Have Another last year? But this horse has to ship all over the world and run over his head while they throw darts at a paycheck. Classless, give the horse a chance.