Dubai: In winning what probably may have been the last race of his amazing career on Saturday, Animal Kingdom has managed to do not only what no North American horse has done since the Dubai World Cup (G1) was switched from dirt to Tapeta in 2010, but has also thrown open the doors for more international participation at Meydan racecourse.
While his success in Saturday’s $10 million (Dh36.7 million) event will have gone a long way to solidifying American-trained horses chances of actually winning on a synthetic surface, it will also have given Americans much to cheer about, as they renew their faith in all-weather surfaces.
With effortless precision, Animal Kingdom, currently owned in partnership by Australia’s Arrowfield Stud and Team Valor International racing, crushed his rivals to record a remarkable victory over the late finishing outsider Red Cadeaux.
“That was shocking,” said Team Valor Chief Executive Officer Barry Irwin. “I thought he could win but I didn’t think he could win like that. He proved that not only is he a top horse, but that he is one of the top horses in the world.”
He also proved that the Tapeta is a level playing field and that, with the right multi-surface profile, you would have serious claims of winning in Dubai.
Trained by English-born Graham Motion, Animal Kingdom now has a career record of five wins in 11 starts with earnings of $8,387,500.
His win was the ninth in the Dubai World Cup by an American-based horse out of the 18 runnings. The earlier winners were Cigar, Silver Charm, Captain Steve, Pleasantly Perfect, Roses in May, Invasor, Curlin and Well Armed.
Acknowledging that Animal Kingdom’s win will have opened up the race to more American-trained horses participation at the Dubai World Cup Carnival, Frank Gabriel Jr, CEO of Dubai Racing Club said: “More participation is always good. We want them from every country, especially North America.
“But it always going to be a situation of whether they want to try to win on the Tapeta or not, because most of the American horses that come here have essentially trained on dirt.
“I think that’s what it’s always going to come down to as far as international horses are concerned - weather they can handle the synthetic track or not,” he added.
“Animal Kingdown is a pretty unique horse who has run on all three surfaces (dirt, synthetic, turf) at the highest level. With him, his connections can picture where they’re going with him.”
Gabriel Jr, whose dedication and vision as Executive Vice President of Racing at Arlington Park, had been the driving force of racing excellence behind events like the Breeders’ Cup, endorsed the 2012-13 UAE racing season that culminated in the prestigious $27.3 million Dubai World Cup meeting.
“We couldn’t be happier with the results and success that we’ve had during the Carnival,” he said. “It was a good mix of international runners that we got during the event.
“We’re always looking for the best horses to run to their best, and I think the better horses saw a lot of good horses run as well.
“One of the things to remember is that some horses are making their first start as they prepare for the season, while some have raced here at the Carnival and may have had a bit of an edge, at least that’s what some people feel,” he added.
“It all bounces out down the road between horses that have been running in the Carnival and the fresh horses. But yes, given the results we’ve had on Saturday with winners from America, Ireland, South Africa, I think we’re going to see a greater participation in Dubai in the future.”