DUBAI, United Arab Emirates
Animal Kingdom pulled away down the straight to win the $10 million Dubai World Cup on Saturday for the first American victory in the world’s richest horse race since 2009.
The 2011 Kentucky Derby winner took the lead from Royal Delta with 500 meters left and held off a fast-charging Red Cadeaux to win by two lengths. Planteur was third.
“He’s a tremendous horse,” jockey Joel Rosario said. “I let him do his thing, whatever he wanted to do.”
Animal Kingdom is co-owned by Arrowfield Stud and the consortium Team Valor, which includes Youngstown businessman Bruce Zoldan.
“Greatest horse since Secretariat,” said Zoldan, the CEO for BJ Alan Fireworks and owner of the Youngstown Phantoms hockey team. “He’s the only Derby [winner] to ever win a World Cup.”
The victory may be the last hurrah for a horse that has struggled with injuries over the years — including one last year that prevented him from racing in the Dubai World Cup.
Animal Kingdom, trained by Graham Motion, has been sold to Australian company Arrowfield for breeding. The company chairman John Messara said they would discuss over the next few days whether the horse will race one more time — possibly at the Royal Ascot in Britain.
The win was one of the few highlights for the Americans at the nine-race, $27.2 million card. Breeders Turf winner Little Mike finished 11th in the $5 million Dubai Duty Free and Private Zone, owned by a syndicate that includes paralyzed jockey Rene Douglas, finished ninth in the $2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen.
The Americans have struggled to master the all-purpose surface of the Dubai World Cup since moving to the Meydan Racecourse in 2010.
Two-time Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic winner Royal Delta, ridden by U.S. Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith, finished 10th followed by the other American entrant, the Dale Romans-trained Dullahan.
It was a mixed day for the race host and Dubai ruler Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, whose Godolphin stables only managed two wins. Sajjahaa won the Dubai Duty Free and Cavalryman won the $1 million Dubai Gold Cup.
Godolphin had four entrants in the Dubai World Cup, including the favorite Hunter’s Light, but only managed a fourth with African Story. Hunters Light was seventh.
While Romans failed to have a good showing with either of his horses, trainer Aiden O’Brien fared better. He had two victories, winning the $5 million Dubai Sheema Classic with St. Nicholas Abbey, who held off the Japanese favorite Gentildonna. He also won with American-bred Lines of Battle, who held off Elleval and fast-finishing Secret Number to win the $2 million UAE Derby.