x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Breeders’ Cup race a chance for Emirati inroads into America

Purebred Arabian race a new addition to card at Santa Anita

Royal Delta, a two-time Dubai World Cup winner, is trying to win the Breeders' Cup Distaff for the third time. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National
Royal Delta, a two-time Dubai World Cup winner, is trying to win the Breeders' Cup Distaff for the third time. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

Officials at the Emirates Equestrian Federation (EEF) hope the inaugural running of the President of the UAE Cup Purebred Arabian race on the first day of two of the Breeders’ Cup fixture at Santa Anita in California on Friday will forge a closer relationship with American racing.

The US$150,000 (Dh551,000) contest has attracted 11 competitors, although none of the entrants will compete in the silks of UAE owners.

There are two runners from Qatar. Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad, who has won the past two runnings of the Dubai Kahayla Classic at Meydan Racecourse, will be represented by No Problem Al Maury, while his media manager, Nasser Sherida Al Kaabi, will have Al Waed in the race, which will be staged over a mile and half afurlong.

The race will be held directly after the Breeders’ Cup Distaff, in which the dual Dubai World Cup runner Royal Delta heads a small but extremely select field in her bid to win the $2m race for the third time.

It was announced in September that the Breeders’ Cup and the EEF had entered into a “long-term business partnership”, which is set to continue for up to five years with the expectation that Purebred Arabians could well feature on the Classic card as early as next year.

“Thirty minutes after the biggest race of the day, Purebred Arabian horses will be saddled in the parade ring in front of a full grandstand,” said Neil Abrahams of the EEF.

“To have the race at the Breeders’ Cup is a real boost for Arabian racing globally and makes people sit up and notice that it is a serious industry.

“The Breeders’ Cup is marketed as the world championships, and in many ways it is. There is a chance for next year to get the Arabian race on the main card on the Saturday.”

Craig Fravel, the president of the Breeders’ Cup, left future plans open last week when discussing the best place for the Purebred Arabian contest.

“We were looking for a good spot for the race and we spent a lot of time talking to our friends at the Emirates Equestrian Federation and thought that that would be the best place this year for that race,” he said.

Santa Anita will host the Breeders’ Cup for the third year in succession in 12 months, with the famed Churchill Downs expected to secure the 2015 event.

In June, the President of the UAE Cup staged a race at the same fixture as the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap, held in June at Churchill Downs, the home of the Kentucky Derby.

The President of the UAE Cup series has never had a race on Kentucky Derby day. However, it held one this year at Pimlico on Preakness Stakes day, the second leg of America’s famed Triple Crown, which is followed by the Belmont Stakes.

sports@thenational.ae