On Saturday the eighth running of the Dubai World Cup was held at Nad al Sheba racecourse in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The World Cup is the richest race in the world with a $6 million purse, and the race card is the richest in racing with total purses of $15.2 million. With most of the races run over Nad al Sheba’s main dirt track, American horses have traditionally done well shipping to the desert venue, but this year the invaders were shut out with the best finish being Harlan’s Holiday second in the main event. The war in Iraq put a damper on the day, as attendance was only 35,000, down sharply from the over 50,000 who have attended in past years. The war was the reason top U.S. jockeys Jerry Bailey and Gary Stevens, who had ridden in every other World Cup card, did not make the trip overseas. Another disappointment occurred on Friday when Golden Shaheen favorite Xtra Heat had to be scratched after injuring herself in her stall.
Stealing the show from the Americans and local horses was South Africa, which won two of the races on the evening. One of them was Ipi Tombe, the Zimbabwe-bred mare who was recently purchased by Team Valor for a whopping $750,000, and will be brought to the U.S. with the Arlington Million a target.
1 1/4 miles on the dirt
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 7 Moon Ballad Dettori 8.80 4.20 3.00 6 Harlan's Holiday Velazquez 3.80 3.20 3 Nayef Hills 3.00
In the headline event, the Group 1 Dubai World Cup, Todd Pletcher trainee Harlan’s Holiday and Godolphin entrant Nayef were cofavored at 5-2 (all pools U.S.), with Nayef the actual betting favorite by a slim margin. But it was 3-1 third choice and local hope Moon Ballad who cashed in, with contract rider Frankie Dettori aboard. Moon Ballad was in contention early, conceding the early running to 10-1 shot Blue Burner. Coming out of the far turn, Dettori roused Moon Ballad and he responded, leaving the rest of the field in his wake and finishing a whopping six lengths clear of Harlan’s Holiday, who was in contention the whole way. The final time was 2:00.48 for the 2000 meters (about 1 1/4 miles) distance over a fast main track. Nayef was another length back in third, and defending World Series champion Grandera was fourth. Winning jockey Frankie Dettori said, "I got the same feeling as I had when riding Dubai Millennium because when I turned for home, I couldn't see the other horses. All that I could hear was the crowd cheering. I knew then that we were going to win as he had plenty left and was enjoying it." Moon Ballad is the first Dubai World Cup winner to be sired by a Dubai World Cup winner, 1997 champ Singspiel. Trainer Saeed bin Suroor said that the ultimate goal for Moon Ballad is the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita in October.
1 1/8 miles on the turf
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 12 Ipi Tombe Shea 3.60 3.00 2.40 8 Paolini Suborics 6.00 4.20 9 Royal Tryst Murtagh 5.40
6 furlongs on the dirt
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 11 State City Hills 127.00 50.00 14.00 2 Avanzado Baze 6.60 3.60 3 Captain Squire Solis 3.00
1 1/2 miles on the turf
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 14f Sulamani Dettori 3.80 2.80 2.20 1 Ange Gabriel Jarnet 3.60 3.00 6 Ekraar Hills 6.60
Despite it being a non-wagering event in the U.S., the UAE Derby is the world’s richest derby with a $2 million purse, and is the only Kentucky Derby prep race run at the classic 1 1/4 mile distance. Also unique is that this derby is open to Southern Hemisphere 4 year olds, one of which was South African bred Victory Moon. He was 7th with three furlongs to go but came on late in the stretch to gain the lead with 100 yards to go and hold off local hope Songlark by 1/2 a length in a time of 2:02.45. Godolphin’s main Derby hope Inamorato was 2 3/4 lengths back in third, but trainer Saeed bin Suroor said he will likely be sent to Kentucky given that he had a very troubled trip and still finished well. He said "I believe still the horse is good enough to win big races and maybe we will still run in the Kentucky Derby. The horse just didn't have any luck. Frankie said he was stopped more than once."
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