DUBAI: Animal Kingdom galloped to a resounding victory in the $ 10 million Dubai World Cup here yesterday in the process becoming the ninth American-trained winner in the 18-year history of the world’s richest race.
Trained by England-born Graham Motion, the five-year-old tracked front-running Royal Delta before jockey Joel Rosario sent him clear early in the home straight.
He won by two lengths from fast-closing English raider Red Cadeaux, with another English runner Planteur replicating his finishing position 12 months ago in third, a further 4 3/4 lengths in arrears.
Victory for Animal Kingdom was just reward for connections of a horse that was due to contest last year’s World Cup until he got injured in the build-up.
Australia’s Arrowfield Stud recently acquired a significant share in the horse from the American owners, Team Valor — the Australian national anthem ringing out in honor of the win at the presentation ceremony — and is expected to stand him as a stallion in due course.
Before then, Animal Kingdom has his sights on the Royal Ascot meeting in June.
One of the American owners, Barry Irwin said he had expected another great race from his injury-prone star.
“It has been up down and up and down with this horse,” he said.
“I always thought he had another great race in him and it almost came in the Breeders’ Cup Mile last year but it has certainly come true here.” Stall 12 had been billed as an impediment to Animal Kingdom, who habitually likes to settle in rear before charging home with a late run.
However, after a moderate break this time, Rosario took the horse forward so that he emerged from the first bend on Royal Delta’s tail.
Godolphin’s Hunter’s Light, the much-fancied local hope, stalked the pace but raced with too much zest to sustain his effort.
As the winner powered clear Red Cadeaux came out of the pack to claim $2 million for finishing second.
Animal Kingdom redressed the balance for American horses, which have suffered several disappointments since the World Cup surface was changed from dirt to a synthetic surface three years ago.
The horse was already proven on synthetics, having won the Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park, in Kentucky, ahead of his victory in the 2011 Kentucky Derby. The race was deprived of last year’s winner at the eleventh hour when Monterosso was withdrawn in the morning through lameness.
Monterosso’s intended jockey, Mickael Barzalona, switched to African Story but the combination made no show.
In the main supporting race, the $5 million Sheema Classic over 2,400 meters, Japan’s Gentildonna threw down a strong challenge to St. Nicholas Abbey, who led early in the home straight, but the Irish challenger ran on too strongly to prevail by two 1/4 lengths.
Gentildonna’s connections said they were disappointed but would bring her to Europe later in the year ostensibly for a tilt at Europe’s most prestigious race the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe a race which the Japanese dream about winning.
St. Nicholas Abbey’s trainer Aidan O’Brien was celebrating a double for him and for the long-established partnership comprising Derrick Smith, John Magnier and Michael Tabor.
Their opening winner had come in the $1 million UAE Derby winner Lines Of Battle and O’Brien said he would now be prepared for a tilt at the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in early May.