Race of the Week 2017

HRN Original Blog:
Dueling Down The Stretch

Dubai No Longer Golden

There was a time, not so long ago, that the Dubai World Cup was the early season goal for America’s top dirt horses. The untold glory and riches that were at that time an attainable possibility, made the long, hard, rigorous trip, worthwhile for American connections. However, that was when the Dubai World Cup was run over a conventional dirt surface. For the past three years it has been run over a synthetic surface called Tapeta. I have a message for all current and future connections of top American dirt runners…..TAPETA IS NOT DIRT, STOP PRETENDING THAT IT IS!!!
I get it, I really do. For years we dominated the World Cup while it was run over Nad Al Sheba, which was the dirt course at that time. In 14 runnings over that track we won eight. We won the initial running of the race, and then won the third. After that, two years later we won again. The UAE took the next two years before we came back with a rapid fire, winning six consecutive years, five of those being won by a horse that was bred, owned, and race in America. Our final winner, Well Armed , was considered a reliable horse, but not by any means a “Curlin” type, and yet he won the race by a record 14 lengths.
After this domination, the sheik decided to create Meydan. This race place did not have a dirt main track, but a synthetic track, one that plays more towards turf runners instead of dirt, and it has shown. Ever since the unveiling of Meydan and its synthetic, main track, surface, not one American horse has come close to taking the prize. In 2010, not one horse of ours was a true dirt horse, and yet we still failed to win. Gio Ponti, our nation’s leading turf start could only muster a fourth place finish. 2011 we sent Fly Down, proven over dirt and Gio Ponti once again, and again we failed to finish in the money. This year, 2012 we sent our Champion three year old female, Royal Delta, and Game On Dude, one our top Classic runners. Again, we were completely humiliated.
It would seem apparent that America should keep our horses stateside. Wasn’t it the strong possibility of a large payday and limitless prestige behind your name the factor that made the trip worthwhile? This trip drains a horse, it can take half a season out of our top horses and more often than not they come back at only a percentage of what they were when they left. So, why I ask, do we send our horses all that way, spending all that money, when the likelihood of the risk is so much higher than that of the reward? If the likelihood of taking home the prize was just as good or better than that of coming home empty handed with a horse that may never return to form, then I could see why owners would take a chance….but as of 2010, it is not.
We do not breed top class turf/synthetic runners. That is made apparent whenever Europe sends over their second stringers and dominate our turf champions. That was made apparent when Gio Ponti couldn’t even come close to winning the World Cup, a race now dominated by turf/synthetic runners. Keep our champions here. Stop with the greed and campaign our horses here. I understand there are not many grade ones for handicap males, however, stay stateside and start sending our handicap stars to races like the Oaklawn Handicap, New Orleans Handicap, and Pimlico Special. Racing our starts there will only help to get the prestige of those races back up where they belong.
Owners, trainers…..I know it is tempting, a 10 million dollar purse that presents a 6 million dollar payday should you win, is beyond tempting. But please, think of what is best for the horse. Sending a horse that is overmatched or untested over a surface, thousands of miles across the sea, is not in their best interest. Please, keep our stars here, so that we may enjoy a full season of the top horses running the entire season at the top of their game.
Photo Credit: Steve Crisp


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Older Comments about Dubai No Longer Golden...

considering the tapeta surface, the final time for this race on tapeta was very good.
What if it happened in the Goodwood> Would it be the same as winning the Belmont?
They physically were simillar, but I think it stopped there.
Curlin was no "regular" horse. Even though he does not get the credit he deserves, IMO, I think he was the closest we have to Secretariat. Second in Beyer ratings also with a 134. He is a superior horse..
It was impressive when Rags to Riches won it because she fell at the start and defeated Curlin, arguably one of the best horses of the 21st century, as well as Hard Spun, another great we have had in the past 12 years.
Also Dataara won the Belmont and he never became famous .. but rags to riches winning it made her into a top female in peoples minds...But being the BELMONT ,DERBY or DUBAI gives a horse a chance at a legacy
They might have been held like it, but it doesn't mean they are.
So your saying the Dubai World Cup win didnt bolster Cigar,Curlin and Invasors Image? You think if Royal Delta had WON the race she wouldnt be hailed as the greatest on earth> If Game on Dude would have Won that race you dont believe that would have solidified his credibility? I do .. The problem with well armed is he wasnt a star before he went there and the media never pushed him on the public. Id go to dubai with my horse if I had the chance
I think it takes too much out of a horse to go that far. I am also against going to and participating in a race run by a group of people who do not given the same rights to women as men.
The Shieks are in it to win it, just like their greedy oil industry and how they laugh each time they increase their prices of oil and change the surface of the DWC ha ha ha ;-)
They don't make LEGENDS like they used to. LMAO. The only important thing about DWC is the $$$ and without that no one, not even the euros would make the trip.
I don't think winning the world Cup makes you go down in history as a legend. Captain Steve and Well Armed aren't going down in history as legends. Neither are a lot of other WC winners.
I disagree Big time. 10 million dollars a great vacation for management and if you win you will go down in history as a LEGEND ala CIGAR,INVASO,CURLIN etc only positives..
Transcend raced on both dirt (in Japan) and tapeta (Meydan). He managed a very close 2nd place last year at the World Cup. Gloria De Campeao raced on turf, dirt and tapeta, in three different countries--enjoying great success, including a World Cup victory and a second place finish. It has been done--
Curlin had plenty of time acclimate in Dubai prepping in the Jaguar Trophy and still a dirt surface in '08. Anyone that wants to win the derby this year needs to get to Churchill asap. Hansen already training at Churchill.
Agreed Dani!
I totally agree, and one thing that might help is a shift of purse money from 2 and 3 year old races to the races for older horses. Racing needs to encourage and reward owners who keep their horses in training. There are too many million dollar races for 3 year olds, racing needs an organized schedule like every major sport in the world.
  • clcraven · We have Tapeta tracks here in the US - Golden Gate and Presque Isle Downs are both Tapeta as are many training tracks - Fair Hill in Maryland as one example. Obviously though the travel over and back does take a huge toll on the horses though- hell, it took a toll on Bob Baffert too · 2058 days ago
other than game on dude all those horses close. and what happened to dude, bad break never got the lead and was dead in the water.
Footlick, that was actually the point I make. No matter what you train on it doesn't seem to translate. We cannot expect trainers and owners of our finest to ship over there to prep over the surface two or three times beforhand, not when their other major goal is the Classic, or they may want the Donn or other grade ones. Also as I said, you cannot train a horse to handle a surface. What if they were to send their horse over there only to see them lose their preps. You need a very specific horse, a very versatile horse, or a horse for course, in order to win that race. You have no clue if you have a horse for course until you send them over, and it does not seem like many are for that particular course. This again proves my main point that it is just far too much trouble, and far too much risk to be worth the trip anymore.
@DeadHeat- they did have synthetic form, but their Tapeta seems to be a completely different entity. There seems to be nothing that correlates to it in the rest of the world. That is why a prep their seems to be important. Not disagreeing, but if trainers have want to go there, then they need to do what will be best for the horse in the race. And that will be prepping there, unfortunately. Not sure what the future will hold.

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Meet Laura Pugh

Laura Pugh got her first taste of Thoroughbred Racing when she watched War Emblem take the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes in 2001. After that point, she fell in love with the sport, reading every piece of news and information she could get her fingertips on.

Laura has a long history with horses in general, taking her first ride on her fifth birthday, with her first official riding lesson when she was eight years old. Both years she attended college she joined her school’s equestrian team, first at the now closed Virginia Intermont College, then again at Delaware State University. Unfortunately, after back and shoulder injuries, she had to hang up her saddle. 

In 2010 Laura came to Horse Racing Nation, but soon branched out to other media outlets, such as Lady and the Track, TwinSpires.com, and USRacing. She currently works at a local newspaper as a community reporter, while making a return to Horse Racing Nation, where she will once again feature her opinionated columns on the latest in horse racing. 

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