Champions Animal Kingdom, Royal Delta, and Trinniberg lead an eight-horse American delegation set to fly to the United Arab Emirates, leaving Florida at approximately 9 p.m. EDT on March 19, for races on the $27 million Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) program March 30.
Once they arrive, they will join multiple grade I winners Dullahan and Little Mike, who have been training at Meydan since their World Cup prep races on March 9, in the quarantine barn area to represent the United States in the world's most international racing event.
Trainer Graham Motion said he is very encouraged by the training of Animal Kingdom, Team Valor International's 2011 champion 3-year-old male and Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) winner, as he aims for the $10 million Dubai World Cup.
"Knock on wood, everything has gone super. We haven't missed a beat," Motion said. "Everything has gone basically to schedule without a hitch."
Animal Kingdom, who has proven ability on synthetic tracks after using Turfway Park's Vinery Racing Spiral Stakes (gr. III) successfully as his Derby prep, was due to contest last year's World Cup prior to incurring an injury that sidelined him from mid-March until Breeders' Cup. He finished second to eventual Horse of the Year Wise Dan in a scintillating run in the Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT).
Since his seasonal debut, a second to Point of Entry after moving early under new rider Joel Rosario in the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (gr. IT) on Feb. 9, Animal Kingdom has turned in three sharp works including a bullet five-furlong move in 1:01.78 on the Palm Meadows turf on March 18.
"I've seen a change in him—he seems a lot sharper going into this race," Motion said.
Motion is due to arrive in Dubai on March 24 and said it is possible he might send Animal Kingdom out for a short drill two days later. Rosario will be back in the saddle for the World Cup.
Meanwhile, two-time filly champion Royal Delta has been training strongly for the Dubai World Cup. She recorded her third consecutive bullet work at Payson Park on March 17, going five furlongs in 1:00.20. Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott has said Besilu Stables' 5-year-old daughter of Empire Maker seems stronger this year than she did in 2012, when she finished a traffic-troubled ninth in the World Cup.
Since that effort Royal Delta has won five of six starts with Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith aboard, including an impressive five-length tally in the Sabin Stakes (gr. III) at Gulfstream on Feb. 17 while utilizing speed more than she had in past efforts.
Donegal Racing's Dullahan will join Royal Delta and Animal Kingdom in carrying the American flag in the World Cup, while his Dale Romans-trained stablemate Little Mike, owned by Priscilla Vaccarezza, is pointing to the $5 million Dubai Duty Free (UAE-I).
Reigning sprint champion Trinniberg also will be traveling to Dubai and has been pleasing trainer Shivananda Parbhoo. In his last workout March 13 at Gulfstream, the Xpressbet Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I) winner breezed six furlongs in 1:01.32 under regular jockey Willie Martinez. Parbhoo has indicated he might give the 4-year-old son of Teuflesberg , who has never raced on a synthetic track, one short work at Meydan prior to his start in the $2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen (UAE-I).
The other American horses due to travel to Dubai, with the California-based runners flying first to Florida where they will join the others for a nonstop trip to the UAE, are:
* The Doug O'Neill-trained pair of Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) runner-up He's Had Enough for the $2 million UAE Derby (UAE-II) and Malibu Stakes (gr. I) runner-up Private Zone for the Dubai Golden Shaheen;
* Varsity, winner of the Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint Stakes on Feb. 2 and trained by Christophe Clement, and grade III winner Great Attack, trained by Wesley Ward, both aimed for the $1 million Al Quoz Sprint (UAE-I);