Animal Kingdom will end long absence to run at Breeders' Classic with Meydan Racecourse in sight.
Breeders' Cup will offer dress rehearsal for Dubai World Cup hopefuls
The Breeders' Cup in America has often proved to be a rich source of runners for the Dubai World Cup meeting but rarely can it boast a deeper seam for the Dubai Racing Club executives to mine than this weekend.
Ever since Cigar used the Classic in 1995 as a stepping stone to take the inaugural Dubai World Cup the following year, America's version of the "world championships" have held an intrinsic link to Nad Al Sheba and, now, Meydan Racecourse.
And a stellar cast of equine talent looks set, at this stage, to cross the world to contest the world's most valuable race in March.
Wise Dan, long considered America's best chance of Turf success in tomorrow night's Mile, is being aimed, intriguingly, at the World Cup.
Dullahan, the synthetic specialist who outpointed tomorrow night's Classic favourite Game On Dude in August, will advertise his claims for the World Cup by clashing with the Europeans in the Turf this evening. In the Classic, connections of the powerfully built Nonios have intimated they will come to the UAE in 2013.
And then there is Animal Kingdom, the 2011 Kentucky Derby winner who bids to end a 259-day lay-off tomorrow night in order to deny Wise Dan and Excelebration, who is the world's highest-rated miler in training.
"I think this horse can do anything, I really do," Graham Motion, Animal Kingdom's trainer said. "I realise it's asking a tremendous amount of the horse but I strongly feel that he deserves a shot in there and that he's good enough."
Animal Kingdom was set to travel to Dubai last season but suffered an injury after winning his prep race in February.
In the debrief after it was confirmed the horse would miss the US$10 million (Dh36.7m) event, Barry Irwin, founder of syndicate owners Team Valor, had no hesitation in telling Motion to prepare the horse for the following World Cup.
"One of the first things Barry said to me was 'Let's shoot for the Dubai World Cup next year', which I felt was very optimistic, as a trainer," Motion said. "That's the idea, to shoot for Dubai, and I would imagine probably he'll only have one race at some point in the spring."
Animal Kingdom proved with his Kentucky Derby victory that he can last home the 10 furlongs of the Dubai World Cup, whereas Wise Dan has never tried such a trip.
That will have little concern to trainer Charles Lopresti ahead of tomorrow night's Mile, but although his charge looks more suited to the nine furlongs of the $5m Dubai Duty Free, the trainer is keen to shoot for the stars in four months.
"I would think that we would consider Dubai because of the Tapeta track that they have, and he's already won on the Tapeta track at the Presque Isle Mile," Lopresti said. "He's very smart and he's very kind. He ships very well. Any place that I've been with him he settles in the stall in a day's time.
"The way he's doing, I don't want to sound real cocky, but I couldn't have him any better as of this morning coming into this race."
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