20th Dubai World Cup exceeded expectations
by JOHN MUCCIOLO
I am not sure if the host nation has put on a bigger show previously since this was my first voyage to the desert, but the 20th Dubai World Cup couldn’t have been much more majestic.
I have mentioned previously about the first-class treatment I received and can’t state enough how gracious the hosts really were. This is one spectacle all racing fans should soak in and Dubai itself is a jewel that should be on many a bucket list.
As for the racing, the 2015 World Cup program was superb with strong fields and some standout performances:
The action started for us when favorite Tamarkuz overcame an awful beginning and a traffic-laden trip to hold off a stern test from the classy Sloane Avenue in the Goldolphin Mile.
Brown Panther was the one to beat and didn’t disappoint in the nearly 2-mile Gold Cup, when always well placed, taking the lead with ease in early stretch and never being challenged in a sublime performance for this dependable stayer.
The U. A. E. Derby followed and hot local favorite Mubtaahij gave the home team its second score on the card with a virtuoso effort stamped him as a serious Kentucky Derby candidate.
A feel-good story came next, when the eight-year-old Irish champion Sole Power flew home late to bag the Al Quoz Sprint in remarkably his fifth try for conditioner Eddie Lynam.
The U.S. got the trophy back that they once held a firm grip on in the Sprint, but it took a lot of heart in the lane from the Bob Baffert-trained Secret Circle to reach the wire first after being in the hunt from the opening bell.
In my favorite performance on the card, Freddie Head’s Solow annihilated a classy field in the lane to post his first Group 1 tally, which could be the first of many for this peaking son of Singspiel.
In what might have been the deepest grouping on the card, French import Dolniya received a stellar ride from one of the world’s best, Christophe Soumillon, to record a breakthrough performance in the four-year-old filly’s career.
To cap things off in the $10 Dubai World Cup, the home contingent ended the day in excellent fashion when Prince Bishop ran his eyeballs out to dust a pair of well-meant Americans, California Chrome and Lea, and secure the $6 million winner's share.
Odd and Ends:
Dubawi sired a pair of winners on the card - Mubtaahij and Prince Bishop – which in my view is a fantastic feat, especially when considering that both came through with stylish dirt performances for a sire who stands in Europe and is often paired with mares from grassy families.
I continue to gush about Solow, but a horse simply couldn’t run any better than he did on this occasion. We will keep fingers crossed that he travels to the U.S. in the fall to take aim on the Breeders’ Cup Mile, presumably, an event his conditioner knows a little something about having saddled Goldikova to three straight wins.
Prince Bishop was hard ridden early, receiving multiple taps of the whip just to stay in the race, and then powerfully galloped past rivals while very wide. Remarkably, he drew off somewhat in the latter stages.
Lea was unfortunate not to have finished at least second as he was forced to check while building momentum in early to mid-stretch. He did not get any breaks in the world’s richest race.
Mubtaahij is a super-exciting prospect for the Run for the Roses for conditioner Mike de Kock. The son of the aforementioned Dubawi gets better with every race and he could easily be the best contender to be sent over from this locale. Mubtaahij is a fascinating three-year-old.
And given the winner's tremendous performance, I wouldn’t sleep on runner-up Maftool being a formidable sophomore going forward. The colt showed little early interest and I thought he would be well back at the finish, but Maftool rallied bravely to get up for second in a field I thought had talent.
The Meydan experience is an epic one and I feel extremely privileged to have been part of this sensational 72-hour run. The turn-out at the track was substantial and they really support their home runners, as the crowd gets very boisterous when their charges find the finish line first.
It is by far the cleanest race track one will ever attend, but still as passionate as any fan base in my humble opinion. And of course…it all concluded with fireworks. Perfectly fitting.