Bow down: Champion Animal Kingdom scorches field in Dubai World Cup

Edited recap from Dubai Racing Club press release:

With effortless looking but ground devouring strikes, champion Animal Kingdom crushed his competition in the 18th running of the world’s richest race, taking Saturday’s $10 million Dubai World Cup by two lengths to halt a U.S. drought in the contest.

Now owned in partnership by Australia’s Arrowfield Stud and the Team Valor International racing partnership based in the United States, Animal Kingdom stunned even his owners with his remarkable victory over late running Red Cadeaux in the world’s richest race at Meydan.

While American-based runners had taken nine previous editions of the Dubai World Cup, U.S. horses have struggled since Meydan Racecourse with its synthetic Tapeta surface replaced Nad al Sheba racetrack and its dirt surface in 2010. Since Well Armed’s triumph in the 2009 World Cup, the only U.S.-based horse to win on the World Cup card at Meydan prior to Animal Kingdom had been Kinsale King, the hero of the 2010 Golden Shaheen.

“That was shocking,” exclaimed 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.”

“It’s unbelievable,” said a beaming jockey, Joel Rosario, who waved his whip to cheers and applause as Animal Kingdom strode into the winner’s circle. “He’s a very good horse; he’s very quick.”

Rosario steered Animal Kingdom to loom outside two-time Eclipse Award-winning champion mare Royal Delta, who had set fractions of :26.59, :50.02 and 1:13.63 under Mike Smith, before they swooped to the lead coming out of the far turn. In just a few steps, Animal Kingdom opened up several lengths—and the race was over.

Animal Kingdom, who captured the 2011 Kentucky Derby off a victory in the Grade III Spiral Stakes on the all-weather Turfway Park track, crossed the finish line in 2:03.21 for the 2000 metres, earning $6 million for his efforts. Trained by Graham Motion, the five-year-old son of Leroidesanimauxnow has a career record of five wins in 11 starts with earnings of $8,387,500.

Red Cadeaux unleashed a strong rally from ninth after 1600 metres to gain the runner-up prize.

“This horse never ceases to amaze me. To run second in the Dubai World Cup and get within two lengths of Animal Kingdom, I’ve got to be happy with that,” said jockey Gerald Mosse.

Planteur, recently acquired by Qatar’s Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad Al Thani, finished third, 4  3/4 lengths behind Red Cadeaux.

“He was third last year, third this year. I was happy enough with his run,” said jockey Ryan Moore.

The remaining order of finish was Side Glance, African Story, Meandre, Hunter’s Light, Treasure Beach, Kassiano, Royal Delta, Dullahan and Cappon.

Dullahan, a three time Grade I winner on synthetic surfaces, never threatened at any point during the race.

“He was traveling sweet. He was doing it under his own power,” said  Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens, who was aboard Dullahan. “I got him out down the backside. I loved where he was at. Three furlongs out, for whatever reason, he just shut it down. He pulled up great underneath me but he was was, I don’t want to say distressed, but worn out.  He was really struggling the last two furlongs.

Godolphin’s Hunter’s Light, the early favorite in the race off his victory in the Al Maktoum Challenge Round III on March 9, raced in second early but could not keep up in the latter stages.

“He had every chance. He just wasn’t good enough at this level,” said jockey Silvestre de Sousa.

Royal Delta, ninth in the 2012 Dubai World Cup, “just didn’t seem to care for it,” Smith said of his mount’s performance on the track surface as she came home tenth. “Every time she had to pick it up, she struggled.”