Royal Delta will compete in the Dubai World Cup.

Royal Delta will compete in the Dubai World Cup.

Anne M. Eberhardt

World Cup Fields Loaded With Elite Runners

The World Cup contenders hail from around the globe.

At least 48 grade/group I winners and more than 20 champions or classic winners are expected to meet in what will be the world’s richest day of racing, the $27 million Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) program at Meydan Racecourse March 31.

With eight Thoroughbred races on the program, the prospective fields released by the Dubai Racing Club March 18 have an average of 14 runners per race.

American champion Royal Delta and fellow multiple grade I winner Game On Dude each will try to become the ninth winner of the Dubai World Cup to represent the United States. The 17th running of the world’s richest race is worth $10 million with $6 million to the winner.

To win the prize, they will have to defeat a dozen likely challengers led by Australian champion and multiple European group winner So You Think from Ballydoyle; the formidable Japanese trio of champion Transcend (second in the 2011 World Cup), 20-time stakes winner Smart Falcon, and classic winner Eishin Flash; German champion Zazou; and the Godolphin-trained army of Monterosso (third last year), Prince Bishop, Mendip, and Capponi.

Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Turf (gr. IT) winner St Nicholas Abbey heads the $5 million Dubai Sheema Classic (UAE-I) at 2,410 meters (about 1 1/2 miles), with Ballydoyle stablemate and Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby (Ire-I) winner Treasure Beach a top contender. France’s top rated older horse Cirrus des Aigles and South African champions Bold Silvano and Mahbooba also are top contenders, along with American grade I winner Chinchon.

Eight grade/group I winners are expected to contest the $5 million Dubai Duty Free (UAE-I) at 1,800 meters (about 1 1/8 miles) on turf with Hong Kong Horse of the Year Ambitious Dragon, Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Cup (HK-I) winner California Memory, and BMW Champions Mile (HK-I) winner Xtension a dangerous trio from that island. Last year’s winner, Presvis, is back to defend his title, with the talented Musir and proven group I performers Wigmore Hall, Rio de La Plata, and Planteur all creditable chances.

American speed will be on display in the $2 mllion Dubai Golden Shaheen (UAE-I) at 1,200 meters (about six furlongs) in the form of grade I winners The Factor  and Giant Ryan. They will vie to become the 10th American-based winner since the race was upgraded in 2000 but will have to defeat 2011 winner and Singapore Horse of the Year Rocket Man, Hong Kong Sprint (HK-I) winner Lucky Nine and South African group I winner August Rush.

Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (gr. II) winner Regally Ready will try to rebound from his disappointing debut in Dubai on Super Saturday in a probable field of 16 for the $1 million Al Quoz Sprint (UAE-I) at 1,000 meters (about five furlongs) on turf. His opponents will include 2010 Al Quoz Sprint winner Joy And Fun, Australian group I winner Ortensia and European group I-winning sprinters Prohibit, Sole Power, and Margot Did.

Trainer Graham Motion has entered Team Valor International’s Lucky Chappy in the $2 million UAE Derby (UAE-II) over 1,900 meters (about 1 3/16 miles), where the colt will encounter Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (gr. I) winner Wrote  and United Arab Emirates classic winners Kinglet, Mickdaam, and Falls of Lora. Multiple Australian group I winner Helmet, Argentine group I winner Balada Sale, and Uruguyan champion Boby di Job have an age advantage as Southern Hemisphere-breds.

American and Canadian grade I winners Unusual Suspect and Joshua Tree both will try 3,200 meters (about two miles) of the $1 million Dubai Gold Cup (UAE-III), a new addition to the Dubai World Cup program this year. Among their rivals will be South African Horse of the Year Irish Flame, German classic winner Fox Hunt, and French marathon specialist Kasbah Bliss.

American grade I winners Richard's Kid  and Western Aristocrat along with the veteran Barbecue Eddie, who was grade I-placed in California, are among 13 probable starters in the $1 million Godolphin Mile (UAE-II).