03/28/2010 11:00PM

World Cup win puts 'Gloria' on map in U.S.


DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - Stefan Friborg joked last week that when he got involved in racing a few years ago, his enthusiasm was such that he found it easier to buy four horses at a time instead of one. Not long after that habit developed, the Swedish-born, Brazil-based oil executive found himself with a stable of more than 100 horses.

Saturday at Meydan, Friborg was happy with a more singular result, the nose that separated his Gloria de Campeao from Lizard's Desire at the finish of the $10 million Dubai World Cup, the world's richest race.

Gloria de Campeao, a Group 1 winner in Singapore last year but only seventh in the 2009 Arlington Million, won by the narrowest margin in the 15-year history of the race. In 1998, Silver Charm beat Swain by a short head.

For Friborg, it was too much to comprehend after the race.

"I think it will take a day or two to understand," he said. "The heart is beating."

While the 7-year-old Gloria de Campeao did start in the United States last year, he was a little-known commodity for most of American race watchers. Since the Arlington Million, Gloria de Campeao had made two starts. He won the $200,000 first round of the Maktoum Challenge over about a mile on the Meydan Tapeta main track on Jan. 28. On March 4, Gloria de Campeao was second, beaten a neck, in the $300,000 third round on March 4, losing to the Japanese filly Red Desire.

Gloria de Campeao was expected to set the pace in the Dubai World Cup, over about 1 1/4 miles, or 2,000 meters, but not necessarily get away with poky fractions of 52.15 seconds for a half-mile or 1:16.94 for about six furlongs. By doing that, he took American closers such as Gio Ponti, the two-time Eclipse Award winner from 2009, and Richard's Kid, the winner of the San Antonio Handicap at Santa Anita last month, out of their game plans as late threats.

"It surprised me that no one tried to come to him early," said winning trainer Pascal Bary of France. "I thought there would be one or two horses going up with him. It's fantastic. A lot of hard work went into this for the whole team."

The best finish by an American-trained horse was Gio Ponti, who finished fourth, beaten 1 1/4 lengths. His jockey, Ramon Dominguez, rued the lack of a pace.

"I had a great trip," he said. "They were setting a very modest pace in front of me, that really affected by horse. They just didn't come back a whole lot."

While Bary, who turns 57 on Sunday, is well known in France as a leading trainer, the winning jockey, Brazilian-born Tiago Pereira, 33, is not as familiar of a name. Pereira has won more than 1,750 races, mostly in Brazil, and Gloria de Campeao has been the top mount in his 16-year career.

After a brief vacation in France, the whole Gloria de Campeao team is bound for a return trip to Singapore on May 16, for the $2 million Singapore Cup over about 1 1/4 miles on turf.

"He is going back to France," Friborg said. "We'll take a couple of days to smell the flowers and start thinking of going back to Singapore."

Kinsale King may head to Royal Ascot

He stood on the winner's podium in front of the massive grandstand, kissed the trophy, and held it aloft. And then trainer Carl O'Callaghan let out a yell that ended months of planning, dreaming, and a whole of lot of traveling.

Kinsale King had won the $2 million Golden Shaheen in Dubai, giving O'Callaghan, 34, his biggest win as a trainer. It may not be the gelding's last international trip this year. On Monday, O'Callaghan said that Kinsale King will return to California this week and that a trip to Royal Ascot in England for the Golden Jubilee Stakes for turf sprinters in June is being discussed with owner Patrick Sheehy.

For the moment, O'Callaghan was basking in the moment and his unconventional approach to getting Kinsale King to the winner's circle. In February, O'Callaghan took Kinsale King and a few of his other Hollywood Park-based horses and shipped them to Golden Gate Fields, which, like Meydan, has a Tapeta surface. Kinsale King had two workouts there before returning to Southern California, getting valuable experience on that surface.

In the three days leading to the World Cup, O'Callaghan decided to walk Kinsale King instead of training him on the racetrack, a format that he used before Kinsale King won the Vernon Underwood Stakes at Hollywood Park in December and the Palos Verdes Handicap in January.

"It doesn't work with every horse," O'Callaghan said.

Ridden by Garrett Gomez, Kinsale King took the lead on the turn and held off a determined challenge by the Singapore invader Rocket Man to win by a half-length. The result left Sheehy, of Newport Beach, Calif., nearly shaking with excitement after the race.

"For a guy like me, it's unbelievable," he said. "We kind of under-trained him. Most of my horses would have trained hard for this. I didn't say anything. The horse was brilliant."

Kinsale King had the richest payday of the nine American-based runners in the seven Thoroughbred races in Dubai on Saturday, receiving $1.2 million. Gio Ponti earned $500,000 for finishing fourth in the World Cup, while the turf sprinter California Flag earned $100,000 for a third in the Al Quoz Sprint.

Dar Re Mi targets BC Filly-Mare Turf

Dar Re Mi's win in the $5 million Sheema Classic over about 1 1/2 miles on turf was not a surprise. What made the 5-year-old mare's victory remarkable was that it was her third consecutive start on as many continents in the last six months, racing at the highest level.

She was fifth in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in Paris on Oct. 4 and was sent to California where she finished third in the Breeders' Cup Turf at Santa Anita on Nov. 7, losing by 1 3/4 lengths to Conduit.

In the Group 1 Sheema Classic, Dar Re Mi stormed home wide to win by three-quarters of a length over the Japanese filly Buena Vista. Owned by the famous composer Andrew Lloyd Webber and his wife, Madeleine, Dar Re Mi has won three Group 1 races, including two in Europe.

"She's getting better with age," Gosden said. "She's kind of like a fine wine."

He said one long-range goal for 2010 is the BC Filly and Mare Turf at Churchill Downs in November.