Despite Warning, Mullins' Horses on Track for World Cup

By Steve Haskin and
Margaret Ransom

California-based trainer Jeff Mullins says he will not alter plans to participate in the March 29 Dubai World Cup card at Nad al Sheba racecourse in the United Arab Emirates despite a travel warning issued by the State Department to U.S. citizens currently in or traveling to that country.

"It definitely makes you think, but unless something serious happens I think we're still going," said Mullins, who plans to saddle Captain Squire in the Golden Shaheen and Lusty Latin in the Godolphin Mile. "What I'm concerned most about is getting stuck over there if they shut down the airspace or something like that. We have to be at Hollywood at 7 a.m. Saturday morning (in order to make the plane for Dubai) and we'll be there. (The warning) doesn't change that."

While Mullins is unaffected by the travel advisory, other trainers are having second thoughts about participation in the World Cup.

Bobby Frankel, who has been seriously considering running Medaglia d'Oro in the $6 million Dubai World Cup, now may change his mind.

"I wasn't sure I felt like going in the first place, and this gives me a good excuse not to go," Frankel said. "I know Mr. Gann (owner Edmund Gann) doesn't care about going. I'll make up my mind for sure after thinking about it for a couple of nights. In many ways, I'd rather win races like the Whitney and the Stephen Foster. That probably would give me greater pleasure. After a while it's not about the money. You wouldn't think Dubai would be affected, with all their security and secret police, but it makes you wonder why they would put out a warning like that. I spoke to Kiaran McLaughlin and he said there haven't been any demonstrations there or anything like that."

Todd Pletcher, who has Harlan's Holiday scheduled to depart for Dubai at 8:30 p.m. next Saturday, said he spoke to owner Jack Wolfe today after hearing about the warning.

"Obviously, it's a concern," Pletcher said. "Jack and I discussed it and we'll definitely be following up on it. We have about four days to figure it out."

The warning states that, "Due to heightened tensions and increased security concerns resulting from the current situation in the region, the Department of State warns U.S. citizens to defer non-essential travel to the UAE. U.S. citizens in the UAE should consider departing.

"Americans in the UAE should exercise caution and take prudent measures to maintain their security. Americans should remain vigilantly aware of surroundings, avoid crowds and demonstrations, keep a low profile, vary times and routes for all travel, and ensure that travel documents are current.

"On March 10, 2003, the Department of State authorized the departure of family members and non-emergency personnel at the U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi and the U.S. Consulate General in Dubai on a voluntary basis. The U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi and the Consulate General in Dubai remain open to provide the full range of services to American citizens and the general public. U.S. citizens who remain in or travel to the UAE despite this warning should register at the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi and the U.S. Consulate General in Dubai and enroll in the warden system (emergency alert network) in order to obtain updated information on travel and security in the UAE."