Animal Kingdom wins Dubai World Cup
Animal Kingdom wins Dubai World Cup

Watch Animal Kingdom winning the Dubai World Cup (Group 1)

(Photo : Ahmed Jadallah - Footage : Dubai Racing Meydan)

$10,000,000 DUBAI WORLD CUP (Group 1)

Meydan, All Weather, 2000m

30 March 2013

Sometimes, things do go according to plan. A littlemore than a year ago, Arrowfield Stud and Team Valor International’sAnimal Kingdom (Leroidesanimaux) was forced to abandon an assault on the Group 1 Dubai World Cup due to injury, at which time trainer Graham Motion thought Team Valor principle Barry Irwin was ‘crazy’ for suggesting they point their Grade 1 Kentucky Derby winner towards the 2013 Dubai World Cup. Crazy like a fox, as it turns out. The handsome chestnut got a textbook ride from Joel Rosario, took over from market rival Royal Delta (Empire Maker) travelling ominously well at the 400-metre pole and staved off a late bid from Red Cadeaux (GB) (Cadeaux Genereux) to become the first American-based winner of the Dubai World Cup since its transfer to Meydan in 2010.

Joel Rosario, much-maligned when he guided Animal Kingdom to a runner-up effort behind Point Of Entry (Dynaformer) in the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap on 9 February, atoned for what Irwin deemed a ‘bonehead’ ride with one that was beyond any sort of reproach Saturday. “I knew we had a chance,” the Dominican explained. “I’ve never been here before. This is my first time. I watched a lot of races. I had an idea where I needed to go from. I listened to my trainer and to my horse. He’s a very good horse. He did it. He’s very quick. It seemed like a long way home in the stretch.” Irwin, who said that Animal Kingdom was fitter for this than any other race in his career, was taken by the performance. “That was shocking,” he exclaimed. “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.”

Before Team Valor consolidated all its runners with Graham Motion, Animal Kingdom raced for the Wayne Catalano barn, finishing runner-up to subsequent MGSW Willcox Inn (Harlan’s Holiday) on his Arlington debut before graduating over the Keeneland Poly in October 2010. He turned in a promising run in his first start for this barn over the Gulfstream turf the following March and was an impressive winner of the Grade 3 Spiral Stakes back on a synthetic track before belying odds of 20-1 in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby. He couldn’t quite catch loose-on-the-lead Shackleford (Forestry) when the Derby fourth turned the tables in the Grade 1 Preakness Stakes, and a nightmarish break in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes effectively cost Animal Kingdom any shot - he checked in sixth.

A slab fracture diagnosed in late June marked the end of his 3-year-old campaign, and connections regrouped with an eye on the 2013 Dubai World Cup. Part one of that plan came together nicely when Animal Kingdom raced away to a Gulfstream turf allowance victory, but the colt suffered another fracture in the same leg and was shelved eight months.

Much to the surprise of many, it was announced that Animal Kingdom was to make his return in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Mile, a Graham Motion initiative also labeled at first blush by Irwin as ‘crazy,’ but a troubled runner-up effort to Horse of the Year Wise Dan (Wiseman’s Ferry) confirmed he was back with a vengeance.

In the days leading up to the Breeders’ Cup, Arrowfield Stud’s John Messara paid a visit to the barn to inspect Animal Kingdom, and several weeks later, Irwin announced that he and his partners had decided to sell a majority interest to Arrowfield to take up stud duties for the 2013 Southern Hemisphere breeding season.

Motion and Irwin labled the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap as a stepping stone to the Dubai World Cup, and Rosario’s mid-race roll of the dice failed to pay dividends and the result was a disappointing, if useful, runner-up effort.

With the raceday scratching of defending race champion Monterosso (GB) (Dubawi), Animal Kingdom moved down into the 11 hole and left there running, but so did a few of the others to his inside, and he was four deep out of the stretch for the first time as Royal Delta (Empire Maker) was committed to a front-running try by jockey Mike Smith. Though nothing along the lines of the last-to-first move used by Victoire Pisa (Jpn) (Neo Universe) to win the 2011 Dubai World Cup, Rosario allowed Animal Kingdom to slide up outside of Group 1 Maktoum Challenge Race 3 hero Hunter’s Light (Ire) (Dubawi) and Side Glance (GB) (Passing Glance) around the first turn to target Royal Delta from second.

The two time Eclipse Award winner went along at a decent clip, covering the opening half-mile in a relatively quick :50 flat over the holding surface, but Rosario had Animal Kingdom in perfect striking position and looked to have Royal Delta at his mercy. He pushed the button exiting the final turn and in a flash, Royal Delta was gone and Animal Kingdom soon had a winning break on the field. He crossed into the final 200 meters under a full head of steam, and it was only Red Cadeaux who made any late noise. Planteur (Ire) (Danehill Dancer), recently acquired by Sheikh Joann bin Hamad Al Thani, dove home late to snag third for the second year in a row, earning back a cool $1million of his owner’s investment.

So jubilant were the connections of Red Cadeaux - after all, he did take home second prize of $2million - that track camera crews mistook trainer Ed Dunlop for the winner. “If you’re not in the race you have no chance,” said owner Ronald Arculli, former executive of the Hong Kong Jockey Club. “We debated between the Group 1 Sheema Classic and the Dubai World Cup but how often do you have the chance to run a horse in this race? I keep saying to Ed Dunlop, don’t underestimate this horse.”

Extract from Thoroughbred Daily News