With more than $38-million on the line and some of the world's best horses poised to compete, including Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Animal Kingdom, the Dubai World Cup Carnival will begin on January 5 for what could be its most exciting season ever.
The first two of 16 total Carnival programs, on January 5 and 6, will feature the Meydan Masters international jockey challenge with such stars as Frankie Dettori, Ryan Moore, Andrasch Starke, Craig Williams and Christophe Lemaire vying for top honors.
The Dubai World Cup program—eight prestigious stakes worth $27-million topped by the $10-million Dubai World Cup—will be run on March 31.
Kentucky-based AmWest Entertainment will partner with the Dubai Racing Club for the third consecutive year to distribute the Dubai simulcast signal for wagering around North and South America and the Caribbean region.
“This year's Dubai World Cup Carnival and its capstone event, the Dubai World Cup, promise the most dynamic racing and wagering in its history. AmWest Entertainment, with our growing role of providing the best of international racing to North America and beyond, is particularly enthused about delivering this year's Carnival through our broad affiliation of track, ADW, OTB and media partners,” said AmWest Chief Executive Officer Nelson Clemmens.
Team Valor International's Animal Kingdom is pleasing trainer H. Graham Motion as he prepares for his bid to become only the second Kentucky Derby winner to capture the Dubai World Cup, following Silver Charm's Dubai win in 1998. Animal Kingdom worked twice at Fair Hill Training Center in Marylalnd over the holidays in his first drills since he incurred a hock injury in the Belmont Stakes (G1), recording a half-mile breeze in :49 on January 2.
“He's doing great. I couldn't be happier with him,” Motion said. “It seems to have taken us a long time to get him back, but I'm obviously very excited to have him back. He looks like a different colt now. He's matured a lot—he's a big, strapping horse.”
Motion has picked out the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (G1) on February 11 as Animal Kingdom's possible return to competition and prep for the Dubai World Cup. However, he also has pinpointed a possible Dubai Carnival race in February if Team Valor opts to send the son of Leroidesanimaux to the Middle East early, as did the connections of champion Curlin.
Additionally, Motion has other possible runners for Dubai: Riverdee Stable's distance specialist Eagle Poise for the $1-million Dubai Gold Cup (G3); Augustin Stable's Grade 2 winner Smart Bid for either the $1-million Godolphin Mile (G2) or the $5-million Dubai Duty Free (G1), and Team Valor's Lucky Chappy for the $2-million UAE Derby (G2).
Horses representing at least 14 countries are expected to compete in Dubai this year, said Martin Talty, Dubai's international manager. Other American stars pointing for the World Cup include Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic (G1) winner Royal Delta, with Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) runner-up Game On Dude and Belmont Stakes (G1) winner Ruler On Ice possible contenders.
Breeders' Cup Turf (G1) winner St Nicholas Abbey is a potential runner in the $5-million Dubai Sheema Classic, and Coolmore's Ballydoyle trainer Aidan O'Brien also could saddle four-time Group 1 winner Fame and Glory in Dubai.
Other stars already on the grounds in Dubai include 2011 Dubai Duty Free (G1) winner Presvis, who has won at least one race during the previous three Carnivals and has earned an average of $522,000 in his nine Dubai starts; Singapore International Cup (G1) winner Gitano Hernando; top European sprinter and Group 1 winner Prohibit, and South African Group 1 winner Bold Silvano, who loomed as a possible World Cup favorite last year before he was sidelined by an injury.
Multiple Australian Group 1 winners and champions Sepoy and Helmet are set to run for the Maktoum family's powerful Godolphin stable, and Talty said Japan's Triple Crown winner and probable Horse of the Year Orfevre also could compete.
“I think we will have stronger racing than ever,” Talty said, pointing to the elevation of two races to Group 1 level on Dubai's Super Saturday, March 10, which will be the key Carnival prep day for the World Cup program with five group stakes and $1,775,000 in purses. “The Carnival has built up to the stage now that everyone hoped it would reach. We've got top trainers coming back year after year and many of the world's best horses.”
AmWest Entertainment will provide free past performance data for all the Dubai World Cup Carnival races and also will provide live streaming video of each program at www.amwestentertainment.com. AmWest's media partner Daily Racing Form also will provide live streaming video and editorial coverage of the Dubai races at www.drf.com.
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