03/15/2011 2:12PM

Gio Ponti tops 14 American-trained horses on Dubai World Cup card

Tom Keyser
Gio Ponti will try to win the $10 million Dubai World Cup without the benefit of a prep race.

There will be 14 American-trained horses running on Dubai World Cup Night at Meydan on March 26 with at least one American in each of the seven Thoroughbred races on the $26 million card.

Three-time Eclipse Award winner Gio Ponti tops the list in the $10 million Dubai World Cup. A 6-year-old trained by Christophe Clement, Gio Ponti finished fourth, 1 1/2 lengths behind Gloria de Campeao, in last year’s World Cup after a turf prep at Tampa Bay Downs. This year, he will be running without benefit of a prep in an attempt to duplicate the 1997 feat of Singspiel, the only horse in 15 World Cup runnings to win the race off a winter vacation. Gio Ponti will be joined in the world’s richest race by Fly Down. Third in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, the Nick Zito-trained Fly Down was most recently fifth in the Donn Handicap on Feb. 5. Santa Anita Handicap winner Game On Dude was withdrawn from consideration after sustaining a foot abscess.

DUBAI RACING CARNIVAL: Past performances, race analysis, and results

No American-trained horse has ever won the $5 million Dubai Sheema Classic, but in Bourbon Bay and Champ Pegasus that could change. Trained by Neil Drysdale, Bourbon Bay beat Champ Pegasus into second in the 1 1/4-mile San Marcos Stakes on Jan. 17. Five weeks later, the Dick Mandella-trained Champ Pegasus reversed the order of finish with a nose victory in the San Luis Obsipo Stakes at the Sheema Classic distance of 1 1/2 miles. Both Americans will be running into the four-time Group 1 winning filly Snow Fairy.

Victor’s Cry will be the lone American in the $5 million Dubai Duty Free going 1 1/8 miles on turf. The winner in November of the 1 1/16-mile Citation Handicap, the Eoin Harty-trained Victor’s Cry  prepped with a third-place finish in the one-mile Thunder Road Handicap at Santa Anita on Feb. 5. He will be up against what will, as usual, be the deepest quality field on the World Cup card.

Kinsale King will defend his title in the six-furlong, $2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen on the one-turn Tapeta surface. The Carl O’Callaghan-trained 6-year-old Kinsale King showed his readiness with a win in a six-furlong allowance at Golden Gate on Feb. 17. He will be joined in the lineup by the Bob Baffert-trained Euroears, who on Jan. 22 won the Palos Verdes Stakes, the race Kinsale King won last year prior to his Golden Shaheen triumph. Last year’s Golden Shaheen runner-up, the Singapore-based Rocket Man, will be back again.

Three American sprinters have accepted invitations to the $1 million Al Quoz Sprint, a straight five-furlong turf dash. The Rick Dutrow-trained Stradivinsky is coming off a Jan. 23 score in the five-furlong Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint.  Quick Enough won the Sensational Star Handicap going 6 1/2 furlongs on turf for Doug O’Neill at Santa Anita on Feb. 27. The Ron Ellis-trained Mr Gruff, idle since finishing third in the Shoemaker Mile on May 31, will cut back to the shortest distance of his career off a 10-month absence.

Dutrow has a second entry in I Want Revenge in the $1 million Godolphin Mile on Tapeta. The winner of the 2009 Gotham and Wood Memorial, I Want Revenge returned from a 5 1/2-month layoff to finish third in the Donn. Dutrow had been seeking an invitation to the World Cup for I Want Revenge but has had to settle for this shorter event. The Mile has also attracted the attention of the Alexis Barba-trained Strub Stakes third-place finisher Make Music For Me. The Ben Cecil-trained Crowded House, who has been in Dubai all winter, will also go in the race.

The U.S. will have a runner of sorts in the $2 million UAE Derby at 1 3/16 miles on Tapeta. That is Sweet Ducky, a Pulpit colt who was second by 1 1/2 lengths to Dialed In the Holy Bull Stakes. Recently purchased from George and Lori Hall by Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov, Sweet Ducky has been switched from Kelly Breen to South African trainer Herman Brown, who will saddle him at Meydan. There is speculation that Sweet Ducky could subsequently head to Moscow for the Russian Derby, a race Kadyrov won last year with the Giant’s Causeway colt North Stream.

The 13 American horses not already in Dubai were all scheduled to fly to Dubai Tuesday for a late night arrival on Wednesday.