Country Grammer, ridden by Frankie Dettori, wins the Group 1 Dubai World Cup at Meydan Racecourse on Saturday. Reuters
Gulf Today, Staff Reporter
It was a fourth victory in the Group 1 Dubai World Cup for both trainer Bob Baffert and jockey Frankie Dettori, with the latter timing his ride to perfection aboard the game Country Grammer.
Dettori had previously secured the Dubai World Cup on Dubai Millennium, Moon Ballad and Electrocutionist, but this was the first time he had done so in colours other than those of Godolphin.
The Saudi Cup runner-up hunted down longtime leader Life Is Good in the final furlong of the 2000-metre dirt contest to win by a length and three-quarters.
Meydan Racecourse was packed to the rafters on Dubai World Cup night after organisers welcomed back capacity crowds for the spectacular 26th running of the Group 1 Dubai World Cup, sponsored by Emirates Airline, which offered $30.5 million in prize money for nine races.
The Todd Pletcher-trained Life Is Good set the pace under Irad Ortiz Jr., with Steve Asmussen’s charge Midnight Bourbon taking close orders. Turning for home, Ortiz Jr asked Life Is Good for an extra effort and started to kick clear.
However, Country Grammer was not finished, and with Dettori urging him along the straight, he took command as Life Is Good faded into fourth.
The rallying Hot Rod Charlie claimed second for Doug O’Neill with Flavien Prat up, while Ryuji Okubo’s Chuwa Wizard, who was runner-up in last year’s race, was a further half-length behind in third.
Amr Zedan, co-owner of Country Grammar with WinStar Farm and Commonwealth Thoroughbreds, said: “I mean, I don’t have any voice left after that! It was a project – we picked the horse and he has come here in the care of the best trainer in the world in Bob Baffert.
“Deep down in my gut I knew we had a shot. I have huge respect for all the others, especially Life Is Good who I know intimately as he used to train with Country Grammar when he was with Baffert.”
Zedan continued: “This win reminds me of Medina Spirit. He was a champion and these horses are all heart. I hope Medina Spirit is reinstalled as the Kentucky Derby winner, God willing. I can’t believe I’m sitting here and my silks are here!
“I am just very thankful to the entire team and Frankie, who gave him a perfect ride. He is one of the best, if not the best. Results speak louder than words. A trainer of that calibre is bound to produce such results. I am just dedicating this race to him.”
Jimmy Barnes, assistant trainer to Bob Baffert, said: “It’s been a long trip, Frankie just rode him awesome. He couldn’t have done any better. The speed worked out just as we thought it would, he put him in a close enough spot that when he called upon him, he’s a true mile-and-a-quarter horse and it kicked in.
“I give a lot of credit to Bob Baffert for his ability to come back and perform, it’s what we do, we’re great off a lay-off. I’m just so excited. I was here when Arrogate won the Dubai World Cup, so this is my second with Bob and it is very, very special.”
Dettori, who first won the Dubai World Cup for Godolphin aboard the great Dubai Millennium in 2000, said: “I have equalled Jerry Bailey now. All my other three wins came on the Nad Al Sheba track so it’s nice to have a winner at Meydan.
“When the draw came out, I had just wanted to put him on the fence. At the half-mile, I wasn’t able to keep on with the front two but in the end they came back to me. At the furlong pole, it was surreal as I knew I was going to win. It’s just unbelievable. It’s like a dream!”
“This was his first time running this well on firm ground and in the past he’s run well on softer ground, so taking him over to Europe is high on his to-do list. We’d like to head to Royal Ascot for the Prince of Wales’s Stakes.”
One of those was compatriot Shahryar, who himself was prominent but boxed on at the far rail to repel the challenges of Pyledriver and the fast closing Yibir — who closed all the way to the line down the stand-side rail.
Prepared by this season’s UAE champion trainer-to-be Bhupat Seemar, Switzerland recorded one of the most popular victories of the night — at least judging by the Meydan crowd reaction — with a roar erupting when Tadhg O’Shea pulled the local hope out to the centre of the track.
Racing at Meydan on Thursday features a Stakes race apiece for both the Purebred Arabians and the Thoroughbreds, the latter, the Listed Dubai Creek Mile the most valuable race on the card and attracting a field of 11, including last year’s winner, Thegreatcollection.
A buoyant Bangladesh will seek a clean sweep against a confident UAE with a victory in the second match of the Skyexch T20 series on Tuesday. Both the team showed their mettle in the first match but an experienced Bangladesh won the game of nerve to emerge winners eventually.
Sheikh Ahmed Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of the UAE National Olympic Committee, on Monday met with UAE medal winners at the fifth Islamic Solidarity Games, held last month in Konya, Turkey.
The Board of Directors of the UAE Badminton Federation, headed by its President Noura Hassan Al Jasmi, announced the distribution of administrative positions to its board members during a meeting held at the federation headquarters in Dubai.