Dubai: The Meydan jinx was finally broken as America rightfully reclaimed the $10 million Dubai World Cup when 2011 Kentucky Derby (G1) sensation Animal Kingdom outclassed some of the best equine superstars from around the globe to win racing’s richest prize on Sataurday.
Ridden confidently by 28-year-old Joel Rosario from the Dominican Republic, the five-year-old son of Brazilian stallion Leroidesanimaux practically cantered to a two-length victory from long-shot and Hong Kong Vase winner Red Cadeaux as British hope Planteur took third for the second successive year, a well-beaten four and three-quarter-lengths back.
No American horse has won the Dubai World Cup since 2010, when it was moved from the Nad Al Sheba dirt track to the Meydan Racecourse, where the race is run on an All-Weather track.
African Story, ridden by Mickael Barzalona, finished best of the four Godolphin runners, in fifth place behind Side Glance while favourite Hunter’s Light failed to reproduce the sparkle he showed in his dual Al Maktoum Challenge victories, when running a disappointing seventh.
“This is unbelievable, the Dubai World Cup, wow,” said Rosario. “This has to be the happiest day of my life.
“All my life I have dreamt of this moment and now it is for real. I think the only place we will be able to celebrate will be on board the plane. We were pretty confident coming into the race, but you can never be too confident. But he won very easily in the end.”
Trained by Englishman Graham Motion, Animal Kingdom comfortably held off Red Cadeaux, who was doing the best work among his 11 rivals at the finish.
Revelling in the moment, Motion said: “I think he proved what he is tonight. He reminded me so much of the Derby. “This is his trip and he went out there and proved it. He’s such an extraordinary animal. He’s a very powerful horse.”
As the gates burst open for the start of the 18th running of the race, Royal Delta hit the front under Hall of Fame rider Mike Smith, with Animal Kingdom tracking the frontrunner in the early stages of the 2,000-metre contest on Tapeta (All-Weather track).
The field began to settle with Side Glance, Hunter’s Light and French hope Meandre bunched behind the two American
However, following the turn for home, Rosario asked his horse for his effort and the five-year-old quickly found a new set of gears to break from the pack and stretch out majestically.
The result was never in doubt even two furlongs for the finish, as there was always going to be only one winner – Animal Kingdom.
The winner, who is set to stand stud in Australia at the end of the year, is likely to run his last start at Royal Ascot in June as part of the agreement of his new owners Arrowfield Stud.
Stud CEO Barry Owen added: “This is such a great horse. I am crying because I am so happy. We needed a good day like this. I had no idea what to expect of him and was scared to death. I thought he could win, but certainly not like this. I was surprised. I am shocked. I always knew he was a good horse.”
Prior to Animal Kingdom’s last success, American horses had won the Cup eight times with the Eoin Harty-trained Well Armed being the last victor to have travelled across the Atlantic.
“I knew we had a chance. I’ve never been here before. This is my first time. I watched a lot of races. I had an idea where I needed to go from. I listened to my trainer and to my horse.
“He’s a very good horse. He did it. He’s very quick. It seemed like a long way home in the stretch,” Rosario said after guiding Animal Kingdom to victory.
With inputs from Alaric Gomes, Senior Reporter
Dubai World Cup results
Dubai World Cup, sponsored by Emirates, Thoroughbreds, Group 1, $10,000,000, 2,000 metres, All-weather:
1. Animal Kingdom (Graham Motion) Joel Rosario.
2. Red Cadeaux (Edward Dunlop) Gerald Mosse.
3. Planteur (Marco Botti) Ryan Moore.
4. Side Glance (Andrew Balding) Jamie Spencer.
Also ran: African Story, Meandre, Hunter’s Light, Treasure Beach, Kassiano, Royal Delta, Dullahan and Capponi.
Winning owners: Arrowfield Stud & Team Valor.
Winning time: 2:03.21.
Winning distances: Two Lengths, 4.75L, 0.25L.