Updated on 09/17/2011 11:11AM

Moon Ballad shines in Dubai

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Carrie Devorah
Frankie Dettori is ecstatic after winning the $6 million Dubai World Cup on Moon Ballad. The victory was one of three on Saturday's $15.25 million card for Dettori and Godolphin Racing.

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - Frankie Dettori capped a brilliant night for himself and for Godolphin with a tactically superb ride aboard Moon Ballad to win the $6 million Dubai World Cup at Nad Al Sheba on Saturday night.

With Harlan's Holiday tracking Blue Burner's early pace in the World Cup, highlight of a $15.25 million card, Dettori settled Moon Ballad in third, but moved him into second after three furlongs. After a half-mile, Dettori determined that the pace was a bit too slow and he put Moon Ballad, a son of 1997 World Cup winner Singspiel, on the front end.

From that point on, Moon Ballad seemed to increase his lead with almost every stride. It was three lengths at the three-eighths pole, and when Harlan's Holiday and John Velazquez made a brief move at the quarter pole, Dettori let out another notch, crossing the line with Moon Ballad five lengths in front of runner-up Harlan's Holiday. Nayef finished third, with Grandera fourth.

Harlan's Holiday ran well in defeat but was never able to theaten Moon Ballad seriously.

"We're delighted with his effort," trainer Todd Pletcher said as he watched Harlan's Holiday cool off in the paddock. "He's finished in front of some world-class horses. He'll fly home on April 4, have a little rest, and then we'll think about the Whitney at Saratoga as a re-entry point."

For Moon Ballad, the Breeders' Cup Classic will be his ultimate objective.

"He could run in America before then," said Godolphin's racing manager, Simon Crisford, "but until we decide to send him to the States, he will be stationed at Newmarket and run in Europe."

Both he and his stablemate Grandera could be pointed to the Prince of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot or the Eclipse Stakes at Sandown Park.

For Dettori, his three victories Saturday weren't quite as stunning as the day in 1996 when he ran a seven-race card at Ascot. But he earned Godolphin $5.4 million in his three victories, including Firebreak in the Godolphin Mile and Sulamani in the Dubai Sheema Classic, and he could be forgiven for shouting, "Show me the money!"

Moon Ballad covered the 1 1/4 miles on fast ground in 2:00.48, the second-fastest clocking in the World's Cup's eight runnings. He paid $8.80 to win in the United States and combined with Harlan's holiday for a $39.20 exacta.

In a night of superlatives, one could single out the electrifying performances of Ipi Tombe in the Dubai Duty Free and Sulamani in the Dubai Sheema Classic. But the evening's first prize goes to Dettori, flying dismount and all.