American horses drew a blank at the $15.2 million Dubai World Cup races at Nad Al Sheba, but two of the winners on a stirring night's racing are due to switch to training in the United States.
They include South African-based mare Ipi Tombe, who was a hugely popular winner of the $2 million Dubai Duty Free Stakes (G-I) over nine furlongs on turf, having acquired a strong local following in her previous starts in Dubai.
She will be joined in the by State City, the locally trained winner of the $2 million Duba Golden Shaheen, in which he came with a late rally to deny U.S. runner Avanzado.
Ipi Tombe was one of two winners for South Africa at the meeting – both trained by Mike de Kock - on a historic night for the country.
Although de Kock, who also landed the UAE Derby with Victory Moon, says he will try his hardest to keep her, it seems almost certain that the 4-year-old will be switched to America. Barry Irwin, manager of Team Valor, which has bought a substantial stake in Ipi Tombe, announced immediately after her three-length defeat of the German-trained Paolini that she would join Elliott Walden to be prepared for the Arlington Million (gr. IT).
"I wish I was going with her," said jockey Kevin Shea. "Mike (de Kock) told me to be patient (in the Duty Free) as we knew about how she can quicken. I allowed her plenty of time to settle and I switched her off, but when I asked her for her effort, the hairs went up on the back of my neck. She was absolutely awesome."
Locally based Paddy Rudkin, a former head man to Henry Cecil in Newmarket before setting himself up in Dubai 10 years ago, gained easily the biggest win of his career in the Golden Shaheen. His State City came with a late surge to deny Avanzado in the $2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen (G-I) over six furlongs on dirt.
Rudkin revealed that State City will now move stateside to join an as yet unnamed trainer. "Once the favorite (Xtra Heat) came out, that did increase our hopes as we knew she was the one to beat," Rudkin said.
Alex Solis said there were "no excuses" for Captain Squire, who was third, three-quarters of a length behind Avanzado, but added: "He broke well but he didn't get into his stride as quickly as he usually does."
Fourth home was Australia's Belle du Jour, who had held on by a head from another American runner, My Cousin Matt.Inamorato
could still be on course for the Kentucky Derby despite his third place to Victory Moon in the $2 million UAE Derby (G-II), a first win at the World Cup meeting for a South African-trained horse.
While Victory Moon powered home to a half-length success in the 10-furlong dirt race, Inamorato, under Frankie Dettori, had little luck in running. After struggling to find room to make his move in the home straight, the son of Tale Of The Cat pulled back to eighth position while losing much ground, but finished well to be third, another 2 3/4 lengths behind the winner.
Inamorato's stable mate Songlark took second, while US challenger Outta Here was 2 3/4 lengths behind Inamorato in fourth. Kenneth McPeek's Brazilian import Hard Buck, who had an age advantage over his rivals having come from the Southern Hemisphere, disappointed in ninth.
While stressing a final Derby decision was still to be made, Inamorato's trainer Saaed bin Suroor 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."
He added that the experience of another race is likely to improve Inamorato. Songlark, whose sire Singspiel won the World Cup On dirt, could also travel to America, bin Suroor said, but is unlikely to be prepared for the Derby.
Victory Moon's trainer Mike de Kock is unsure whether the colt will stay with him in South Africa or be switched to Europe or Australia, although he will be trained for next year's World Cup.
"I have had a few great moments but this was the best," he said. That was before bettering even that with Ipi Tombe two hours later. "He has been looking for 2,000 (meters). He is a big strong horse who has been improving a lot."
Victory Moon's jockey Wayne Smith confirmed that it had been a rough race. "Things got very tight and I thought the race was over at the top of the straight, but when (he) got clear running I was okay. He is a true champion."
Godolphin had won the opening Thoroughbred race, the $1 million Godolphin Mile (G-II), on dirt with Firebreak, whose eventual aim could be the Yasuda Kinen in Japan.
"I hope I haven't used up all my luck too soon," Dettori said. "He's done very well, he's very game, very honest. He doesn't know when he's beat. Things worked out for him."
Kent Desormeaux offered no excuses after defending champion Grey Memo had narrowly failed to win the race for the second year running. Grey Memo came very wide into the home straight and was delivered to finish late as usual.
But Desormeaux said: "When I was ready, I thought he was going to run them all down. I got to the group of horses but I just couldn't make up any more ground in the last 200 meters. I never had any trouble. He has got some turn of foot, this horse. I thought he was going to win on the home turn."
Local horse Estimraar took third, a length behind Grey Memo, while America's Cayoke was nipped by QueExpresion in a photo for fourth having been prominent throughout, to the surprise of his rider Tyler Baze. "I wasn't expecting him to jump so quickly and he is a horse that usually prefers to sit third and fourth. Still he ran a great race, the owners are happy and the trainer is happy," he said.
Other American runners Mr John, Lusty Latin, and Easyfromthegitgo finished 6th, 8th, and 11th respectively.Sulamani
left it incredibly late before making his Godolphin debut a winning one in the $2 million Dubai Sheema Classic (G-I) over 12 furlongs on dirt.
Dettori said his mount, winner of last year's French Derby, could not go with the early pace and had only two horses behind him turning for home.
But the long straight was hugely to Sulamani's advantage and he ground down his opposition to win from the French-trained mare Ange Gabriel by three-quarters of a length. British hope Ekraar was four lengths behind the winner in third and French-trained Polish Summer 1-1/4 length away in fourth.
"It is unbelievable. I thought it was impossible to win. This was a performance out of the top draw," said Dettori, suggesting Sulamani is a strong contender for the major European middle-distance prizes.World Cup Day Results