World Class Racing

Two fascinating races on the undercard, punctuated by heart-thumping finishes, made Dubai World Cup night especially memorable. An estimated 50,000 watched Godolphin run one-two in the first two Thoroughbred races, the $1-million Godolphin Mile (UAE-III) and the nine-furlong UAE Derby (UAE-III), quadrupled in value for its second running to $2 million.

California-based rider David Flores won both events, the first with Festival of Light by three-quarters of a length from Curule with Godolphin's China Visit fourth. The Derby was a head-bobbing affair as Street Cry stuck a long neck in front in deep stretch before being outgamed by Express Tour to go down by a short-head. Both colts are expected to head to the U.S. for the Kentucky Derby (gr. I).

Bailey, who finished third in the Derby, six lengths back on Frankel-trained Lido Palace, said: "I had a good trip and no excuses, so Godolphin has two nice Derby prospects there."

Express Tour, purchased privately after winning three of four Florida starts last season, had worked brilliantly over five furlongs on Godolphin's open day at the Al Quoz training center March 21. Street Cry, third in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and winner of a prep race in Dubai on March 1, lost little in defeat and Dettori, who failed to win a race on World Cup night, will have a tough time choosing between the pair. Sheikh Mohammed isn't overconfident about a Kentucky Derby victory this year yet, but the fire to win the American classic still burns.

"One day we will have it in our pocket," he said.

Dettori was beaten a nose by Take when favored Fantastic Light lost to Japan's Stay Gold by a nose in the $2 million Dubai Sheema Classic (UAE-II). Germany's Silvano came home third in the 12-furlong turf test. Fantastic Light was last year's winner of the Emirates World Series, of which the World Cup is the first of 12 international events.

France got its solo victory in a wham-bam finish to the Dubai Duty Free (UAE-II) over an extended turf mile when peripatetic Jim and Tonic got up late to beat Fairy King Prawn from Hong Kong and Sunline, darling of the Antipodes, for the $1.2-million first prize. Sunline pulled hard under Greg Childs while dueling for the early lead and could not withstand the closing bursts of the first and second, finishing a neck and half-length behind the winner.

"He (Jim and Tonic) lost the lead near the finish but came back in the last stride," said winning rider Gerald Mosse.

Julio Canani-trained Ladies Din, fifth to Rhythm Band in the Duty Free last year, finished 11th under Chris McCarron this time.

"When I had horse, I didn't have room, and when I had room, I didn't have horse," said the jockey.

The U.S. bagged the $2-million Dubai Golden Shaheen (UAE-III) over a straight six furlongs when Caller One bested another California-based runner, 8-year-old Men's Exclusive, by 4 1/2 lengths. Corey Nakatani was always sitting pretty on the winner, trained by Jim Chapman.

"This is my first visit here and they told me the track was like Churchill Downs," Chapman said. "Caller One didn't like Churchill Downs when he finished fourth in the Breeders' Cup (Sprint, gr. I) last year, but maybe he didn't like Kona Gold."

Bits and Bobs

If you ever wondered how fast Arabian horses run, the first race on the World Cup card over 10 furlongs on dirt was won by French-trained Magic De Piboul, the world's highest-rated runner of that breed. He got the $250,000 Dubai Kahayla Classic trip in 2:15.07 under Olivier Peslier compared to Captain Steve's 2:00.40...On March 21, Sheikhs Mohammed, Hamdan, and Maktoum traveled down the coast for a spot of camel racing in Abu Dhabi. The last three events of the Grand Camel Race Festival were for selected animals from the UAE and the GCC (Gulf Cooperative Council--Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia, Oman etc.) over 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) with the winners receiving golden swords or daggers...Muslims eschew gambling but games of chance are not frowned on. On World Cup night, as well as a Pick Seven with 100,000 dirhams ($27,800 approx.) to the winner, three raffles were held, one for 100,000 frequent flyer miles from Emirates Airline, sponsor of the Dubai World Cup, and two for cars, a Jaguar S-type and a Bentley, the latter raffle restricted to 1,500 tickets costing 500 dirhams ($140) each....Nad al Sheba featured a new "Millennium" grandstand for the sixth World Cup as well as the addition of a new floor to the old grandstand. Both projects were completed in nine months.

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