Donn Often Springboard to Dubai
Photo: Bill Denver/EQUI-PHOTO
Invasor won the Donn and the Dubai World Cup in 2007.
Much like going to a party to which you’ve been invited, it seems as though in recent years the winner of the $500,000 Donn Handicap (gr. I) feels an obligation to head halfway around the globe to attend a little soirée called the Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) sponsored by Emirates Airline.

Or perhaps it’s the $6 million purse that prompts the connections of the Donn winner to travel to the Middle East for the world’s richest Thoroughbred horse race. Whatever the reason, there is no mistaking the fact that the Donn winner has been attracted to the World Cup, which began in 1996.

Already, the connections of this year’s Donn favorite, Daaher, have said that they will likely ship the 4-year-old Awesome Again   colt to Dubai should he perform well. It makes sense, of course, being that Daaher is owned by Dubai Deputy Ruler and Minister of Finance and Industry Sheikh Hamden’s Shadwell Stable and trained by Kiaran McLaughlin — the same connections that sent the 2007 Donn winner Invasor to Dubai, where he went on to close out his super career with a win in the World Cup.

Also entered in the Feb. 2 Donn field is the resilient Brass Hat, who won the Gulfstream race in 2006 and was sent to Dubai. Even if he wins, though, it is unlikely that Brass Hat owner William Bradley will send the 7-year-old gelding back to Dubai after he finished second in the 2006 World Cup but was disqualified because of a medication mix-up.

In all, seven Donn winners have gone on to the World Cup, three of them taking home the top prize. In the first year of the event created by Sheikh Mohammed, Allen Paulson’s Cigar decided to make the trek to Dubai after repeating in the Donn by two lengths. A 6-year-old at the time, Cigar went on to capture the 10-furlong test by a half-length, the fourteenth of his record sixteen consecutive victories.

In 2001, Michael Pegram’s Captain Steve became the second Donn winner to achieve success in the World Cup, as he collected the $3.6 million winner’s share with a three-length score. Since that time, only Mongoose (2002) and Saint Liam (2005) triumphed in the Donn but did not travel to Dubai. However, in 2005, it was Donn runner-up Roses in May that was sent to the World Cup, where he went on to win for Ken and Sarah Ramsey.

This year’s World Cup program will be held March 29 at Nad Al Sheba.

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