The 2021 Dubai World Cup Festival took place this Saturday at Meydan Racecourse. Top horses from around the globe flew in to compete for their share of the $21-million purse-prize money. We're going to cover the major races that transpired, starting with the main event, the $12-million Dubai World Cup (G1):
1st place: MYSTIC GUIDE
2nd place CHUWA WIZARD
3rd place: MAGNY COURS
Three Dubai World Cup wins in a row for Godolphin. Dynasty etablished.
MYSTIC GUIDE, in the GODOLPHIN royal blue silks, enjoyed a comfortable tracking trip under jockey Luis Saez, racing in the clear just three lengths off the lead. They raced compact and relatively unchanged. Luis Saez asks for MYSTIC GUIDE for run with three furlongs to go, and he's got plenty to give! He immediately takes command and strikes the front as they come charging down the stretch. A late run from CHUWA WIZARD got him into contention, into second place, but it wasn't enough to challenge MYSTIC GUIDE. The shiny chestnut drew off to win by five lengths. JESUS TEAM ran on to complete the trifecta. The final time for the mile and one quarter was 2:01:61.
MYSTIC GUIDE is by GHOSTZAPPER out of MUSIC NOTE by A.P. INDY. He's won three of his last four races and pushed his earnings to $7,513,2000. The winning trainer was Michael Stidham, the winning owner Godolphin LLC.
GODOLPHIN won their last two Dubai World Cups with THUNDER SNOW.
The $5-million Dubai Sheema Classic (G1):
2nd: CHRONO GENESIS
3rd: LOVES ONLY YOU
MISHRIFF delivered another phenomenal effort, as he switched back to Turf for this event, and tried the challenge of longer distance. The Dubai Sheema Classic is run at one mile and one-half.
MISHRIFF left the gate quite lazily under jockey David Egan, immediately taking his spot at the rear of the field while CHANNEL MAKER set the pace for jockey Joel Rosario. MISHRIFF would bide his time, getting into a steady rhythm as they made their way past the backside and into the turn. Joel Rosario lets it out a notch on CHANNEL MAKER and the tempo quickens. MISHRIFF starts to move past horses. He's traveling five wide to make his go for the lead. But meanwhile LOVES ONLY YOU and CHRONO GENESIS, commence their own rallies to his inside. That pair gets the jump on MISHRIFF for the the lead. Together, they make three horses in a line! LOVES ONLY YOU, CHRONO GENESIS, and MISHRIFF — they storm down the middle of the stretch together, but in the end, it is MISHRIFF with the strongest kick, and he wins by a head. CHRONO GENESIS finished second, LOVES ONLY YOU third. The final time was 2:26.65.
MISHRIFF is by MAKE BELIEVE out of CONTRADICT by RAVEN'S PASS. He won 5 of his last 6 races and pushed his earnings to $13.9 million. The winning trainer was John Gosden, the winning owner, Prince AA Faisal.
The $4-million Dubai Turf (G1)
1st: LORD NORTH
2nd: VIN DE GARDE
LORD NORTH was making his first start since his fourth place finish in last year's Breeder's Cup Turf. He shortened to one mile and one-eighth for this race, with a four-month freshening to shoe. Drawing the tenth post, he broke slightly to his right, but recovered and positioned himself toward the rear for Frankie Dettori. The field raced strung out, and LORD NORTH was at least eight or nine lengths off the lead for much of the race. When they hit the strech he was still far back at the same spot. But with a lighting turn of a foot, LORD NORTH bursts forward, reaches the front runners, and then draws off under easy hand-urging by Frankie Dettori. He felt the whip just once. The final time was 1:46.46.
LORD NORTH is by DUBAWI out of NAJOUM by GIANTS CAUSEWAY. The winning trainer was John Gosden, the winning owner, HH Sheikh Zayed bin Mohammed Racing.
The $1.5 million Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1)
2nd: RED LE ZELE
It was a tragic ending to the Dubai Golden Shaheen. The winner ZENDEN, after crossing the line first, broke down moments into the gallop out, apparently buckling his leg, which led to his fatal injury and had to be euthanized. His trainer Carlos David did not avail his comments after the race.
This is the most difficult side of horse racing, when we lose a precious horse who was giving his all, but then a freakish accident occurs. In ZENDEN's honor, we'll keep the spotlight on him some more and remember his previous achievements in addition to his victory.
Upon arriving at Dubai, ZENDEN was coming off an impressive score in the Pelican Stakes at Tampa Bay on February 13th, 2021. He flashed his characteristic early speed, and was able to carry it well throughout the race.
ZENDEN broke out on top and immediately vied for the lead, not backing down from the pressure of SOUPER STONEHENGE, the seven-horse, who ran up to his outside to challenge. For two straight quarters they traded head bobs for the lead! They went 22.61 and 44.88. Interesting to note, his daddy FED BIZ was a Grade 2 winner at 7 furlongs who did his best sprinting coming from stalking from way off the pace.
When they turned for home, it was still a two-horse race into the stretch, the others were of no consequence. But it was ZENDEN under Sammy Camacho holding the advantage. ZENDEN maintained his neck lead, digging ever-more for ground, and in the closing jumps, it was clear he was not to be denid. He kept his rival at bay to hit the wire first. This was the same gritty ZENDEN we saw at Dubai.
In hindsight, ZENDEN's improvements seemed forthcoming. Prior to his last two efforts, he'd been tusseling with tougher foes, such as Grade 1 winners like TACITUS, MUCHO GUSTO, IMPERIAL HINT, WIN WIN WIN, from distances of six to eight furlongs. He showed his speed against the best, and was running back up to his previous stellar form, the triple digit speed figures along the Equibase Speed scale.
ZENDEN is by FED BIZ out of YOU LAUGHIN by SHARP HUMOR. He was wicked fast on his best day.
When he entered the gate for Saturday's Dubai Golden Shaheen, he stood at post thirteen with ANTONIO FRESU aboard. ZENDEN broke sharply, clearing the field by two lengths to show the way. Neither YAUPON nor MATERA SKY were anywhere to be found to challenge, so ZENDEN raced through the backside uncontested. Big mistake by his opponents! With no pressure on him, ZENDEN cruised into the turn. When they straightened for the stretch, ZENDEN was still on a hand ride while the rest of the field were battling. ZENDEN is then fully extended in midstretch by ANTONIO FRESU and he responds with gusto. He kicks away to lead by five near the end. RED LE ZELE, from the back of the pack, rallied to make a race of it, but ZENDEN was already too far in front and at the finish line. RED LE ZELE settled for second, CANVASSED ran on to be third. The final time for the six furlong sprint was 1:09:01.
ZENDEN earned his 6th victory from 15 starts, pushing his earnings to $1,131,760.
ZENDEN goes out a millionaire, a Grade 1 champion, a world beater.
The $750K UAE Derby (G2):
1st: REBEL'S ROMANCE
3rd: NEW TREASURE
REBEL'S ROMANCE raced toward the rear of the field for the first half of the race. Jockey William Buick settled him into a comfortable stride, so comfy that when asked for run, he responded nicely, making headway toward the leaders, albeit a four-wide trip. The field reached the top of the stretch and REBEL'S ROMANCE is fully extended and seizes the lead over PANADOL. With big strides, he draws clear to win by five lengths at the end. The final time for the one mile and three-sixteenths was 1:56.28.
REBEL'S ROMANCE earns 100 qualifying points for his Road to the Kentucky Derby. He climbs up to 4th on the Kentucky Derby Leaderboard. He's actually a gelding! He's strung together 4 wins from 5 starts, with earnings pushed to $549,879. The winning trainer was Charlie Appleby, the winning owner, Godolphin.
The $1-million Al Quoz Sprint (G1)
1st: EXTRAVAGANT KID
2nd: FINAL SONG
3rd: ACKLAM EXPRESS
A field of thirteen lined up to dash 1200 meters over the turf. Upon the break, the horses spread out horizontally over the track, ultimately making two groups: one one top, the other on bottom. EXTRAVAGANT KID raced midpack along his group under Ryan Moore, brushing against the highly touted SPACE BLUES. But it was MAN OF PROMISE who appeared to have the lead with three furlongs to go. Then FINAL SONG and EXTRAVAGANT KID kicked into gear and were seen closing belatedly. In the final half furlong, EXTRAVAGANT KID rushed forward, coming home the strongest out of his group. He pushed forward and prevailed by half a length over FINAL SONG in second, and then it was a neck back, all the way across the track, to ACKLAM EXPRESS in third. The final time was 1:09.26.
EXTRAVAGANT KID now improves to 15 wins, 16 seconds, and 6 thirds from 50 starts. He pushed his earnings to over $1.5 million with this victory. What a great way to return to his winning ways! EXTRAVAGANT KID was on a second-place streak, finishing second in five of his previous six races. He takes the win on the world stage for trainer Brendan Walsh. The winning owner was DARRS Inc.