DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – Japan’s reigning horse of the year Gentildonna settled for second behind St Nicholas Abbey in the Dubai Sheema Classic on Saturday.
The 4-year-old Gentildonna, who won the Japan Cup and the fillies’ triple crown last season, was a distant runnerup at the world’s richest meet, crossing the line 2¼ lengths behind in the 2,410-meter contest.
In what was her first race abroad, Gentildonna had not run since the Japan Cup in late November. Also from Japan, Trailblazer finished dead last in the field of 11.
“Second place is hard to accept,” Gentildonna’s jockey Yasunari Iwata said. “She never slowed down but she couldn’t quite catch up. I wanted to show what the filly could do, so it’s a little disappointing.”
At Meydan Racecourse, Gentildonna traveled in third position, stalking the winning horse along the way.
St Nicholas Abbey moved in front on the straight with Gentildonna gaining to his outside, but the Joseph O’Brien-ridden 6-year-old pulled away with 100 meters left to capture the $5 million prize.
“She was constantly on the outside today and it’s the reason she lost,” Gentildonna’s trainer Sei Ishizaka said. “Considering that it was her first start in four months and her first trip overseas, I don’t think it was a complete shambles.”
In the 1,200-meter Dubai Golden Shaheen, the Yoshito Yahagi-trained Taisei Legend came in 12th out of 13.
Animal Kingdom wins
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates
Animal Kingdom showed that an American horse can win the world’s richest horse race on an all-weather track, pulling away down the straight Saturday in the $10 million Dubai World Cup.
The 2011 Kentucky Derby winner overtook the Bill Mott-trained Royal Delta with about 500 meters left, opened up a three-length lead and held off a fast-charging Red Cadeaux to win by two lengths.
“He’s a tremendous horse,” Animal Kingdom jockey Joel Rosario said. “I let him do his thing, whatever he wanted to do.”
An American horse hadn’t won the race since 2009, and especially since it was moved to Meydan Racecourse in 2010, the Americans have struggled to master the all-purpose surface.
Trainer Graham Motion said before the race that he wanted to show that the Kentucky Derby win was no fluke and that he had overcome injuries that prevented the five-year-old from racing at the Dubai World Cup last year.
“It was fantastic. He’s just an extraordinary animal,” Motion said. “He reminded me very much of the Derby today, the way he won. It was the same kind of run he made, turning for home. He just seemed so confident and so full of run.”