An increase in the number of horses nominated at the first entry stage bodes well for the 2002 Dubai World Cup program. Nominations stand at 720 horses from 22 countries.The $6-million Dubai World Cup, sponsored by Emirates, will be run at Nad Al Sheba Racecourse March 23, 2002. The group I World Cup highlights a seven-race program worth $15.25million. The UAE Derby and Godolphin Mile, sponsored by the Jebel Ali Hotel and Golf Resort, will be group II events next year, up from group III status.The United States is responsible for 300 nominees, followed by the United Arab Emirates with 157, and Great Britain with 62."With what has occurred throughout the world over the last few months, we are absolutely thrilled at what we have received and proud of the way the international racing community has unified to ensure the sport continues to expand in the Emirates and around the world," said Dubai World Cup Committee chairman Les Benton. "Comparing this year and last, there is a rise of 8% in total entries while, perhaps, the most pleasing figure is the rise of 17% from the United States."Another satisfying aspect is the continuing growth of the Dubai World Cup, and this is again evident with nominations received from all parts of the world, including one from the Czech Republic and nine from Turkey."Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe winner Sakhee, second in the Breeder's Cup Classic this year; Dubai Champion Stakes winner Nayef; multiple group I winner Lido Palace; Caulfield and Melbourne Cup winner Ethereal; W.S. Cox Plate winner Northerly; and champion mare Sunline highlight the World Cup nominees.Trainer Aidan O'Brien has nominated 13 individual horses for the six Thoroughbred events, including Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner Johannesburg for the UAE Derby. Brazilian champion Roxinho; Ha Ha, a filly champion in Australasia; and the Bob Baffert-trainer Officer also are nominated to the Derby.Penske Auto Centers Breeders' Cup Sprint winner Squirtle Squirt, the filly Xtra Heat, and defending champion Caller One are nominated to the group I Dubai Golden Shaheen sprint. Breeders' Cup Mile winner Val Royal has been nominated to the group I Dubai Duty Free and the Dubai Sheema Classic.Here's how the program looks:$6-million Dubai World Cup (group I) at 1 1/4 miles, sponsored by Emirates, 89 nominees from 13 countries.$2-million Dubai Duty Free (group I), one mile on the turf, sponsored by Dubai Duty Free, 129 nominees from 15 countries.$2-million Dubai Sheema Classic (group I), 1 1/2 miles on the turf, sponsored by Ports, Customs, and Free Zone Corp., 109 nominees from 14 countries.$2-million Dubai Golden Shaheen (group 1), six furlongs, sponsored by Gulf News, 93 nominees from 14 countries.$2-million UAE Derby (group II), 1 1/8 miles, 145 nominees from 11 countries.$1-million Godolphin Mile (group II), one mile, sponsored by Jebel Ali Hotel & Golf Resort, 105 nominees from 14 countries.$250,000 Dubai Kahayla Classic for Arabians, sponsored by EMAAR, 50 nominees from five countries.