A Kentucky Derby winner, a two-time Eclipse Award-winning filly and the defending champion headline a standout international field of 13 entered for Saturday’s $10 million Dubai World Cup – the world’s richest horse race.
Animal Kingdom, the 2011 Derby winner, and two-time Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic winner Royal Delta, along with Dullahan, will attempt to give American-based horses their first World Cup win since 2010, when the track was changed from dirt to a synthetic surface.
Monterosso, owned by Dubai ruler Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, is back to try for a second straight World Cup win.
Animal Kingdom drew the No. 12 post on Wednesday, with Royal Delta – bidding to become the first filly to win the race – drawing the No. 8 post. Dullahan leaves from the No. 3 post.
Barry Irwin, founder of Team Valor which co-owns Animal Kingdom, said he’s glad with the outside draw, noting his horse won the Derby from the No. 16 post in the 20-horse field.
”I don’t think it’s that big of a deal,” Irwin said. ”He’s not going to be in front anyway. He will be a mid-pack horse. We just didn’t want to be inside. If we were in the 1-2-3, we would be feeling it; 11-12-13 not great, but not bad.”
Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott, who won the first World Cup in 1996 with Cigar, said he hopes Royal Delta ”breaks well and has a clean trip,” from the No. 8 post. Last year, Royal Delta finished ninth in the World Cup. Mott said his filly was ”a little banged up” a year ago but appears to be doing better this season.
”We are just hoping for a better trip, a smooth trip. That is all we can ask for,” Mott said.
Jerry Crawford, managing partner of Donegal Racing which owns Dullahan, said he was fine with the post position for his horse who ran third in last year’s Kentucky Derby and then beat Game On Dude in the Pacific Classic.
”We will save a lot of ground between the start and the first turn by being where we want to be,” Crawford said. ”I much prefer the 3. You can do the math. If you come straight over to the rail and save every step of ground, you still have to run 40 feet further from 13 than the 1. It’s just mathematics at the end of the day.”
The early favorite is Hunter’s Light, who drew No. 4, and also comes from the stables of Sheik Mohammed.
Also entered were African Story, Capponi, Kassiano, Meandre, Planteur, Red Cadeaux, Side Glance and Treasure Beach.
The nine-race World Cup card has a total purse of $27.25 million.