Just a couple of hours after a throng of international media watched Sakhee turn in his final blowout for the Dubai World Cup (UAE-I), his jockey, Frankie Dettori, helped the son of Bahri draw post 7 for Saturday night's main event.
A total of 85 Thoroughbreds representing a dozen countries have been entered for the World Cup card, a six-race, $15-million stakes bonanza dubbed "the Olympic Games of horse racing" by World Cup chairman Les Benton. A seventh event, the $250,000 Dubai Kahayla Classic, will be contested by pure Arabian horses.
The 10-furlong Dubai World Cup, boasting a purse of $6-million, will climax the night's contests at Nad Al Sheba, where favored Sakhee will lead a four-horse Godolphin charge against seven other rivals hailing from the U.S., Japan, France, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates.
Held at the exquisite Jumeirah Beach Hotel located on the Arabian Gulf coast, the post position draw allowed World Cup personalities a chance to participate in the selection process. After the name of each World Cup runner was picked at random, a representative of that horse was given a choice of silver camel statuettes. Concealed beneath the saddle of each statue was a post position number.
Dettori selected for Sakhee, and after picking from the jamal, or herd of camels, he removed the saddle, revealing the favorite's post 7. He was immediately followed by owner Jim Chapman, whose camel disclosed post position 11 for the World Cup's lone U.S. entrant, Western Pride. Chapman was thrilled with the colt's outside slot.
"I'm very happy with it," he said in a subsequent press conference. "He just came out of the 14-post in the Big 'Cap at Santa Anita and handled that real well."
In other races, the redoubtable Xtra Heat will break from the nine-hole as she takes on the world in the $2-million Golden Shaheen (UAE-I) at six furlongs. Set to tackle the all-star filly is defending champ Caller One (post 7) as well as U.S. hopefuls Men's Exclusive (2), Echo Eddie (5), and Bonapaw (13).
A packed field of 16 will line up a race later in the $2-million Dubai Duty Free (UAE-IT), which will feature a clash between Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT) hero Val Royal (post 14) and last year's winner, the worldly Jim and Tonic (11). For the $1-million Godolphin Mile (UAE-II) on dirt, U.S. runners Peeping Tom, Blade Prospector, and Grey Memo all drew inside posts.
The first post at Nad Al Sheba on Saturday is 5:00 p.m. Dubai time (8:00 a.m. EST), with the World Cup field scheduled to break at 9:40 p.m. (12:40 p.m. EST).
The field for the $6-million Dubai World Cup:
1 – Royal Tryst, to be ridden by Craig Williams
2 – State Shinto, Ted Durcan
3 – Best of The Bests, Jamie Spencer
4 – Agnes Digital, Hirofumi Shii
5 – Crimson Quest, Eibar Coa
6 – Street Cry, Jerry Bailey
7 – Sakhee, Frankie Dettori
8 – To the Victory, Olivier Peslier
9 – Keltos, Gerard Mosse
10 – Sei Mi, Jose Velez
11 – Western Pride, Patrick Valenzuela