Game on Dude and Royal Delta carry the U.S. hopes in Saturday’s $10 million Dubai World Cup (UAE-G1) at Meydan.
Trainer Bill Mott, who will saddle Royal Delta, won the inaugural Dubai World Cup with Cigar in 1996. He can make history once more as Royal Delta, winner of last year’s Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic (G1), is seeking to become the first female to win the prestigious race.
“She’s got many things going for her,” Mott said. “The one thing we don’t know is whether she is good enough. But the distance doesn’t seem to be a factor; she’s won [over 2,000m] (a mile and a quarter). She’s won races on a synthetic track. She’s won under the lights and she doesn’t need any medication to speak of. She’s jumped through a lot of the hoops that you have to clear to win here.”
Mott expects a tracking trip for his Eclipse champion filly.
“It looks like there is some good speed in the race—Game On Dude, Smart Falcon and Capponi,” Mott said. “ We could be in a stalking position just behind the leaders. Hopefully, we’re not far off them.”
Game On Dude and his jockey, Chantal Sutherland, will make history in the post parade. Sutherland will become the first woman to ride in the race. On Friday, Sutherland exercised both Game On Dude and The Factor, a contender for the Dubai Golden Shaheen.
“We wanted Chantal to test the track on the inside with Game On Dude and on the outside with The Factor,” said Yakteen. “This was our plan from the start.”
Trainer Bob Baffert, who was hospitalized earlier in the week in Dubai after suffering a heart attack, is seeking his third win in the race having already won with Silver Charm (1998) and Captain Steve (2001).
Runner-up in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic, Game On Dude is a front-runner, so the widest stall of all (14) looks to test his mettle from the start.
American challengers have won the race on eight previous occasions (Cigar 1996, Silver Charm 1998, Captain Steve 2001, Pleasantly Perfect 2004, Roses in May 2005, Invasor 2007, Curlin 2008, Well Armed 2009) whereas the Japanese opened their account last year when Transcend chased home compatriot Victoire Pisa and they have three runners this year.
The international favorite is So You Think, now trained in Ireland by Aidan O’Brien, for whom he has won three Group 1 contests having previously won in Group 1 company on five occasions in Australia.
Godolphin trainer Saeed bin Suroor is the most successful trainer in the history of the race having saddled five winners (Almutawakel 1999, Dubai Millennium 2000, Street Cry 2002, Moon Ballad 2003 and Electrocutionist 2006).
South African Mike de Kock has not won the race yet but has gone close with Asiatic Boy, Lizard’s Desire and Victory Moon all being placed in the race. This year he relies on Master Of Hounds who has been drawn in stall one.
While Sutherland will become the first woman to ride in the Dubai World Cup, earlier in the evening at Meydan, Hayley Turner is attempting to become the first woman to ride a winner on the program when she pilots Margot Did in the Al Quoz Sprint.
“I am used to watching it from home so to be here is really exciting,” said Turner. “Chantal is also here so it is a breakthrough for the girls. It is a first and people will make a big deal of it but it won’t be such an issue next time round.”
Game on Dude and Chantal Sutherland at Meydan/Watkins photo courtesy of Dubai Racing Club