World's richest race has wide-open 14-horse field

Associated Press
Racing horse Fly Down from U.S. practices during a morning session two days ahead of the Dubai World Cup, the world's richest horse race at the Meydan in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Thursday March 24, 2011. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)

View gallery

The Dubai World Cup boasts 14 horses from five countries in what looks to be a wide-open field competing in the world's richest race.

The showcase event Saturday at Meydan Racecourse tops an eight-race program with $26.25 million in prize money. The World Cup carries a $10 million purse.

The race has several intriguing story lines, with three horses from disaster-ravaged Japan, and three from Dubai ruler Sheik Mohammed's Godolphin stables, which hasn't won the race since 2006.

Then there's Gitano Hernando, owned by Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, who has been accused of running the mostly Muslim republic in southern Russia like his personal fiefdom.

Three U.S.-based horses are in the field, led by three-time Eclipse Award winner Gio Ponti, who finished fourth in last year's World Cup and has earned more than $5 million. The others are Fly Down and Richard's Kid.

But it's England-based Twice Over who is listed as the 2-1 by the Daily Racing Form. A disappointing 10th in last year's World Cup, the 6-year-old horse was brought to Dubai much earlier this year and won the $300,000 Al Maktoum Challenge this month.

"We thought he had a really great chance last year but things didn't go his way," said Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager for Saudi Prince Khalid Abdullah's Juddmonte Racing, which owns Twice Over.

"We saw the other horses that ran well in the Dubai World Cup had been out here and had time out here. We thought maybe that is the key. So far, we are very happy with how the horse has progressed physically and on the track."

Gio Ponti is the 6-1 second choice. He won the Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland last year and finished second to Goldikova in the Breeders' Cup Mile in November, but is making his first start of 2011.

Gio Ponti's assistant trainer Christoph Lorieul said the horse has looked much stronger than he did last year during the final series of workouts this week.

"It's a big challenge this year because he hasn't had a run," Lorieul said. "Last year, we came into this race with one run under his belt, whereas he wasn't ready for it this time around. We've just brought him to the race with works only and I hope it works."

Of the Japan-based horses, Buena Vista — with Ryan Moore aboard — could have the best chance. Chosen horse of the year in Japan in 2010, the 5-year-old mare remains a fans favorite and has the credentials after finishing second in Dubai last year in the Sheema Classic.

She has eight wins in 17 career starts as well as six second-place finishes and three thirds — meaning she has never finished out of the money.

Katsumi Yoshida, a trustee of Sunday Racing Co. which owns Buena Vista, said the horse was adapting well to Dubai.

"She looks fit, she has thrived since she arrived in Dubai, and if we did not think she had a chance we would not be here," Yoshida said in an email message. "I know it's a top-quality field, but I believe in Buena Vista's ability."

Other contenders include the Mike de Kock-trained Golden Sword, a late replacement for Bold Silvano, who is out with an injury. De Kock has come close in the World Cup before with both Lizard's Desire and Asiatic Boy finishing second and Victory Moon third.

There is also the Aidan O'Brien-trained Cape Blanco, which won both the Irish Derby and Irish Champion Stakes last year.

Fly Down, trained by Hall of Famer Nick Zito, comes in with a pair of runner-up finishes last year in the Belmont Stakes and the Travers.

Zito's assistant Tim Poole said the 4-year-old colt could pull a surprise in his first race outside the United States.

"I've had a few people say to me that they passed this horse around as the sleeper in this race," Poole said. "This horse's races have been strong. He's a late developing horse for us ... We're looking for him to step up now that he has matured. He has trained very well for us so we are expecting a good performance."

Godolphin's race manager Simon Crisford said Poet's Voice, which won the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes last year, is his pick to bring the stable its sixth World Cup win. The other two Godolphin horses in the race, Prince Bishop and Monterosso, are largely untested at this top level.

"Poet's Voice is by far away the best horse of our three contenders in terms of unofficial ratings and what he achieved to date," Crisford said. "Monterosso has won Group 2, Prince Bishop won a Group 2, both over a mile and a half. Realistically, they have a lot to prove at this level but they are both very good horses. Poet's Voice has been there and done it. He has beaten some of the best horses at Ascot."

View Comments (0)

Recommended for You

  • US billionaire says WWII Japanese ship found in Philippines

    Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen said Wednesday he had found one of Japan's biggest and most famous battleships on a Philippine seabed, some 70 years after American forces sank it during World War II. Excited historians likened the discovery, if verified, to finding the Titanic, as they hailed the…

  • Central Florida man killed by police serving search warrant

    By Barbara Liston ORLANDO, Fla. (Reuters) - A 26-year-old Central Florida man died after being shot in the face early on Wednesday morning by a sheriff’s deputy attempting to serve a search warrant in a narcotics investigation, authorities said. The Volusia County Sheriff’s Office reported in a…

  • 175-Pound Pit Bull Hulk Shatters Misconceptions About the Breed

    This dog just may be the world's largest Pit Bull. Only 18-months-old, Hulk weighs a hefty 175 pounds. He's also best friends with a 3-year-old boy.

    ABC News
  • Chad president tells Boko Haram leader to surrender or face death

    By Madjiasra Nako N'DJAMENA (Reuters) - President Idriss Deby of Chad said on Wednesday he knew the whereabouts of Abubakar Shekau, the leader of the Nigerian militant group Boko Haram, and called on him to surrender or risk being killed. Chad's army has waged a series of battles against Boko Haram…

  • Passengers use emergency slides after landing in Denver

    DENVER (AP) — Passengers on an American Airlines flight from Charlotte, North Carolina, were forced to slide off the plane on emergency chutes soon after landing in Denver on Wednesday.

    Associated Press
  • Student Shot With BB Gun On Campus Shocked by University`s Reaction

    A student at Norfolk State University says she was shot with a BB gun and hit with a bottle of urine outside of a all-male dorm room on campus, but says the school offered little help to her or other students when she contacted them.

  • Australians on Indonesia death row arrive on execution island

    Two Australian drug smugglers were taken Wednesday to an Indonesian island where they will be executed despite frantic diplomatic efforts to save them, as Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Australia was "revolted" by their looming deaths. Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, the ringleaders of the…

  • U.S. may review 1959 airplane crash that killed Buddy Holly

    (Reuters) - U.S. transportation safety investigators said on Wednesday they are reviewing a request to reopen a probe into the 1959 airplane crash that killed musicians Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, J.P. Richardson, better known as "The Big Bopper," and their pilot. The original investigation 56…

  • Iranian president says Israel 'greatest danger'

    Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday said Israel creates the "greatest danger" in the region, after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned against a nuclear deal with the Islamic republic. In a speech on Capitol Hill, Netanyahu said Tuesday the nuclear agreement US President…

  • Former marine reported killed in Syria

    A former Royal Marine has become the first Briton to be killed while fighting with Kurdish forces battling Islamic State jihadists in Syria, leaving his family "devastated" Wednesday. Konstandinos Erik Scurfield, 25, died on Monday in a battle with IS militants, a source in the Kurdish People's…

  • Killers sought in deaths of 300,000 chickens in South Carolina

    By Harriet McLeod CHARLESTON, S.C. (Reuters) - Revenge may be the motive for the killings in South Carolina of more than 300,000 commercial chickens worth about $1.7 million over the past two weeks, authorities said on Monday. Birds have been found dead of unnatural causes in 16 chicken houses at…

  • Americans Love K-Cups, but Their Creator Regrets Inventing Them

    Now it seems that John Sylvan, the inventor of the tiny containers, is firmly on Team #KillTheKCup too. “No matter what they say about recycling, those things will never be recyclable,” said Sylvan.
  • Survivor testifies about 2 friends stabbed, bound, drowned

    PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A man who survived being beaten, bound, stabbed in the neck and kicked into the Schuylkill River took the stand in a hearing Tuesday and described the night his two friends lost their lives.

    Associated Press
  • Judge Napolitano on 'scathing' federal report on Ferguson PD

    Insight from Fox News senior judicial analyst

    FOX News Videos
  • 'Thousands' of Russian troops in east Ukraine: US envoy

    The United States' senior envoy to Europe alleged Wednesday that Russia had deployed "thousands and thousands" of troops to neighboring Ukraine. Speaking to a congressional foreign affairs committee, Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland also told US lawmakers that Russia was flooding…

    AFP53 mins ago
  • Georgia police officer killed in shootout

    By David Beasley ATLANTA (Reuters) - A Georgia police officer was killed in a shootout with a suspect in suburban Atlanta early on Wednesday, authorities said. Officers went to investigate reports of shots in a suburban neighborhood and came under fire about 1:30 a.m. EST, according to the Fulton…

  • Senate fails to override Obama's veto of Keystone XL approval

    By Susan Cornwell WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate failed on Wednesday to override President Barack Obama's veto of legislation approving the Keystone XL oil pipeline, leaving the controversial project to await an administration decision on whether to permit or deny it. The Senate mustered…