Dubai may be located in the United Arab Emirates, but for one night it was part of the Animal Kingdom. After a horse themed half-time show, Animal Kingdom blew away the completion in what proved to be the night’s biggest race. The horse, trained by Graham Motion and ridden by Joel Rosario, becomes the first American horse to win the competition since 2009.
The 2011 Kentucky Derby winner cleanly won the world’s richest horse race by two lengths. Long shots Red Cadeaux and Gerald Mosse made a late push on Animal Kingdom down the stretch but it wasn’t enough to overcome the American horse. Dominican-American jockey Joel Rosario was not surprised by Animal Kingdom’s win and described the animal as “a tremendous horse” in post-race comments. “The American horses this year were a strong group,” commented Ian Sham, an editor at Hong Kong’s Racing World, who watched the race live from Dubai and was not surprised by the result.
Since the Dubai World Cup was moved from the Ned Al Sheba to the new Meydan Racetrack in 2010, American horses have struggled on the synthetic track. The dirt at Ned Al Sheba has traditionally been far kinder to American horses including Cigar, who won the first Dubai World Cup in 1996. Just two years later America scored its second win when Gary Stevens mounted Silver Charm to victory. After retiring from the sport in 2005 due to injury, the 50-year-old Hall of Fame jockey returned to horse-racing this year and earned himself a mount at the Dubai World Cup.
However, jockeying the out-classed Dullahan, Stevens never had a chance to win his second World Cup–his horse finished in the bottom of the pack. And Royal Delta, another American trained horse, was also disappointing. Royal Delta moved prematurely and as the pace quickened down the stretch, was overtaken by Animal Kingdom, Red Cadeaux and Gerald Mosse. The $10 million Dubai World Cup has come to represent the only true world championship for horse racing. However, this year’s edition lost some of its luster when Monterosso, the defending champion, was declared lame by Emirati racing authorities on racing day. Mickael Barzalona, who rode long shot Monterorsso to victory in 2012, switched to piloting the ineffective African Story in the 2013 edition.
With the win, Animal Kingdom is now headed to England. While Graham has confirmed the move, it’s unlikely in which race Animal Kingdom will next ride. Though the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at this year’s Royal Ascot is likely to be a good fit for Animal Kingdom. Ultimately, Animal Kingdom is destined for Australia where he has already been sold to be used for studding purposes.