Rising American star Life Is Good headlines a likely field of 11 for the 26th running of the G1 Dubai World Cup (sponsored by Emirates Airline) on March 26 at Meydan Racecourse.
Winner of the G1 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile and Pegasus World Cup in his last two starts, the Todd Pletcher-trained Life Is Good faces stiff opposition from three of his American-based compatriots in the 2000m contest on dirt. They are Grade 1 winner Hot Rod Charlie, who has been training in Dubai since January for Doug O’Neill and who captured the G2 Maktoum Challenge Round 2 in his most recent start; Bob Baffert’s Grade 1 winner Country Grammer, and the Steve Asmussen-trained Midnight Bourbon, second and third, respectively, in the G1 Saudi Cup on February 26.
Also in the international lineup is G1 Premio Latinoamericano winner and twice Uruguayan champion Aero Trem, who takes his chance for trainer Antonio Cintra, while the second- and third-place finishers in the 2021 Dubai World Cup return for another try at the gold trophy: Chuwa Wizard from Japan and Magny Cours, trained in France by Andre Fabre for Godolphin. Saeed bin Suroor, the all-time leading trainer with nine Dubai World Cup winners, will enhance Godolphin’s chances this year with multiple European group stakes winner Real World, who captured the G2 Zabeel Mile on the Meydan turf in January.
There are two UAE-based runners, Hypothetical and Remorse, who finished first and second in the G1 Maktoum Challenge Round 3 last time out, while the sole UK raider is the William Haggas-trained Grocer Jack.
“We are delighted with the strength of the entries for the 26th Dubai World Cup meeting,” said Major General Mohammed Essa Al Adhab, general manager of Dubai Racing Club. “We have strength and depth across all nine races with an impressive 32 Grade/Group 1 winners set to compete, and it’s wonderful to have so many different countries represented.
“We are also extremely happy to be able to welcome back a capacity crowd for the first time since 2019 and we hope that everyone will enjoy a superb evening of racing.”
The main supporting race is the G1 Longines Dubai Sheema Classic, a $6 million event that has attracted a likely field of 14 including Group 1 winners Glory Vase and Shahryar from Japan, as well as Yibir, impressive winner of the G1 Breeders’ Cup Turf for Charlie Appleby and subsequently honored as America’s champion turf male of 2021. A strong turnout from the UK includes William Muir’s G1 Coronation Cup winner Pyledriver, Haggas’ Alenquer, and Hukum, trained by Owen Burrows.
The UK also has strong representation in the G1 Dubai Turf (sponsored by DP World) over 1800m. John Gosden’s trainee Lord North will defend his title in the $5 million event while facing opposition from popular three-time Dubai winner Lord Glitters, trained by David O’Meara, and the powerful Japanese trio of Schnell Meister, Vin de Garde and Panthalassa.
The card also features a pair of fascinating sprints. The 1200m G1 Dubai Golden Shaheen (sponsored by Atlantis Dubai) on dirt sees US Grade 1 winners Dr. Schivel and Drain the Clock go up against Japanese stars Copano Kicking, Chain of Love and Red le Zele.
The G1 Al Quoz Sprint (sponsored by Azizi), conducted over 1200m on turf, sees an intriguing clash between three of Appleby’s stars: G1 Ascot Champion Sprint winner Creative Force; rapid improver Man of Promise, successful three times over the Meydan course, and G2 Al Fahidi Fort winner Naval Crown. They will face European Group 1 winners Emaraaty Ana and A Case of You, while Bill Mott sends out American Grade 1 winner Casa Creed, a narrow second in the 1351 Turf Sprint at Riyadh last time out.
The card also stages three Thoroughbred Group 2 races. Defending Champion Secret Ambition takes on a strong bunch of locals, including stablemate Al Nefud, in the Godolphin Mile (sponsored by Nakheel.) Later on, Argentine 2000 Guineas winner Irwin is among a cosmopolitan cast for the UAE Derby (sponsored by Mubadala), which also showcases Baffert’s G1 Del Mar Futurity winner Pinehurst, who narrowly held off the reopposing Japanese-based Sekifu in the Saudi Derby.
Also successful in Saudi was veteran Japanese campaigner Stay Foolish, and Yoshito Yahagi’s star takes on a formidable field in the G2 Dubai Gold Cup over 3200m on turf. His rivals include Appleby’s Manobo, unbeaten in all five starts including in the G3 Nad Al Sheba Trophy over this course.
The traditional curtain-raiser for the Dubai World Cup program is the G1 Dubai Kahayla Classic (sponsored by Ithra Dubai) for Purebred Arabians, which is worth $1 million. An international field is set to include defending champion Deryan, trained in France, as is as fellow G1 winner Hadi De Carrerre. A strong home challenge is headed by G1 winners RB Rich Lyke Me, Rajeh, Brraq and Jugurtha De Monlau.
The Kahayla Classic is due off at 3:45 p.m., with the Dubai World Cup scheduled to take place at 8:30 p.m. Meydan gates open at 12 noon and tickets are available from dubairacingclub.com
Dubai Racing Club Press Release