DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Animal Kingdom showed that an American horse can win the world’s richest horse race on an all-weather track, pulling away down the straight Saturday in the $10 million Dubai World Cup.
The 2011 Kentucky Derby winner overtook the Bill Mott-trained Royal Delta with about 500 yards left, opened up a three-length lead and held off a fast-charging Red Cadeaux to win by two lengths.
“He’s a tremendous horse,” Animal Kingdom jockey Joel Rosario said. “I let him do his thing, whatever he wanted to do.”
An American horse hadn’t won the race since 2009, and especially since it was moved to Meydan Racecourse in 2010, the Americans have struggled to master the all-purpose surface.
Trainer Graham Motion said before the race that he wanted to show that the Kentucky Derby win was no fluke and that he had overcome injuries that prevented the five-year-old from racing at the Dubai World Cup last year.
“It was fantastic. He’s just an extraordinary animal,” Motion said. “He reminded me very much of the Derby today, the way he won. It was the same kind of run he made, turning for home. He just seemed so confident and so full of run.”
The victory may be the last hurrah for a horse that has been sold the Australian company Arrowfield for breeding purposes. Hence, the Australia national anthem rather than the American was played during the trophy presentation.
Arrowfield chairman John Messara said he would have to discuss the racing future of the horse with Motion and the American owner Team Valor and its founder Barry Irwin. There has been talk of it racing once more at Royal Ascot.
“We came into this horse basically as a stallion proposition,” Messara said. “It’s been great to win this race and certainly underpinned his stallion value. It would be one step further if he went to England and won at Royal Ascot. But there are risks and logistics involved.”
Two-time Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic winner Royal Delta, ridden by U.S. Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith, finished 10th followed by the other American entrant, the Dale Romans-trained Dullahan. She was bidding to be the first mare to win the race.
The win was one of the few highlights for the Americans in the nine-race, $27.25 million card.
Breeders Turf winner Little Mike finished 11th in the $5 million Dubai Duty Free and Private Zone, owned by a syndicate that includes paralyzed jockey Rene Douglas, finished ninth in the $2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen.
It was a mixed day for the race host and Dubai ruler Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, whose Godolphin stables managed two wins. Sajjahaa beat The Apache to win the $5 million Dubai Duty Free and Cavalryman beat stablemate Ahzeemah in the $1 million Dubai Gold Cup.
Godolphin had four entrants in the Dubai World Cup, including the favorite Hunter’s Light, but only managed a fourth with African Story. Hunters Light was seventh and last year’s winner Monterosso was scratched just before the race.
“He had every chance,” said Hunter’s Light jockey Silvestre De Sousa, who had twice won earlier in the day in the Dubai Duty Free and Dubai Gold Cup. “He just wasn’t good enough at this level even though he was a Group 1 winner here last time. This was a better race and he was a bit one-paced.”
While Romans failed to have a good showing with either of his horses, trainer Aiden O’Brien fared better. He had two victories, winning the $5 million Dubai Sheema Classic with St. Nicholas Abbey, who held off the Japanese favorite Gentildonna. He also won earlier with American-bred Lines of Battle, who held off Elleval and fast-finishing Secret Number to win the $2 million UAE Derby.
South African trainer Mike de Kock also had a good day, as favorite Shea Shea won the $1 million Al Quoz Sprint in course-record time edging out Joy and Fun and Eagle Regiment. The win was the second of the day for de Kock, who also won with Soft Falling Rain in the $1 million Godolphin Mile.
Jockey Christophe Soumillon, who won on She Shea, also won on Al Mamun Monlau in the $250,000 Dubai Kahayla Classic.