Fly Down, who has earned more than $1 million while placing in some of America’s most prestigious races, including the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) and the Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I), may not return to the United States following his start in the $10 million Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) March 26.
Purchased last year by the family of Saudi Arabian King Abdullah, Fly Down may remain in the Middle East to continue his racing career and, ultimately, go to stud at the king’s Janadria Farm near Riyadh. Frank McGovern, general manager of the king’s stables, said March 23 the royal family acquired the son of Mineshaft with a firm plan in mind.
“He was bought specifically to race in the Dubai World Cup and then to progress on to race in Saudi Arabia before going to stud," said McGovern. "We were looking for someone who fit the bill and the budget. Ultimately, we’re trying to improve the breed here.”
Fly Down’s performance in the World Cup will be a factor in where the colt goes next and a firm decision will not be made until after the race, McGovern said. A robust chestnut out of the Fly So Free mare Queen Randi, Fly Down has been training well in Dubai but has never raced on a synthetic track.
“He’s traveled great and the only question is whether he handles the Tapeta,” McGovern said.
Winner of the Dwyer Stakes (gr. I) last year, Fly Down finished second in the Belmont by three-quarters of a length to Drosselmeyer, second by a nose to Afleet Express in the Travers Stakes (gr. I), third in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I), won by Haynesfield , and third in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, 3 1/2 lengths behind winner Blame .
Trainer Nick Zito, who will not travel to Dubai, said recently that the king’s racing staff has been actively involved in helping prepare Fly Down for his performance in Dubai. In addition to being tended by Zito’s assistant Tim Poole and exercise rider Tiffany Green, Fly Down also has the attention of several employees of the king while in Dubai.
King Abdullah and his sons have previously bought top American horses, raced them in the World Cup, and then either continued racing them in Saudi Arabia or retired them to stud at Janadria. Dynever, a son of Dynaformer, finished third in the 2003 Breeders’ Cup Classic and was second in the 2005 Dubai World Cup to Roses in May before beginning a stud career that has yielded top runners in Saudi Arabia.
Premium Tap, winner of the 2006 Woodward Stakes (gr. I) and the Clark Handicap (gr. I) and third in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, ran gamely to finish second to Invasor in the 2007 Dubai World Cup before becoming champion older imported horse and champion stayer in Saudi Arabia. His first foals are yearlings, McGovern said.