Dubai World Cup: The $10 million race

Story highlights

Dubai World Cup has $10 million purse

American horse California Chrome is favorite

Thoroughbred won 2014 Kentucky Derby

Janet Jackson providing entertainment

CNN —  

It’s a bonanza like no other – the Dubai World Cup.

This year marks the 21st running of the world’s richest equestrian event, which links together nine races for a collective purse of $30 million. The winner of the main race – also called the Dubai World Cup – collects $6 million of the staggering $10 million purse which follows a full day of pageantry.

“The show that they put on that night is something to behold,” says veteran industry consultant Jerry Brown, who attended the Dubai World Cup 10 years ago.

Similar to Ascot’s Gold Cup, the race is open to any horse aged four and older, often taking in the most promising thoroughbreds from the previous year’s Triple Crown races in America.

That’s where the similarities end between the famous sprints, however, with one established in 1807 in a London suburb, and the other in 1996 in the deserts of the Arabian Peninsula. Not to mention, last year’s Gold Cup at Ascot fetched a relatively paltry purse of £375,000 ($530,000).

05:27 - Source: CNN
Meydan: A thorougbred racing destination

2014 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner California Chrome is this year’s current favorite in Dubai, with 6-4 odds, followed closely by Frosted at 5-2. Last year’s Kentucky Derby disappointment Mubtaahij – owned by Dubai’s Sheikh Mohammed Bin Khalifa Al Maktoum – is priced at 16-1.

California Chrome, Frosted and Keen Ice – which made headlines last year for being the only horse to ever beat Triple Crown winner American Pharoah – all arrived in Dubai four to six weeks in advance of the race to test their stamina on new soil and recover from the travel.

That’s “very unusual” says Brown, the founder of Thoro-Graph, a performance tracker for racehorse investors and advisory to the sport’s top investors.

“One of the problems with the horses is you never know how they are going to handle the (travel) all the way over there; some run and some don’t,” added Brown.

“The other issue is how they run without Lasix, some run well and some don’t,” Brown adds, referring to the controversial anti-bleeding drug banned outside the U.S.

“Two of them have already shown they can run well without it, and Keen Ice we just don’t know yet,” he says.

Back in 1996, American horse Cigar made history by taking home $4 million as the Dubai World Cup’s inaugural winner.

Since then the stakes and popularity of the event have only gotten bigger. Last year’s winner was Prince Bishop, an eight-year-old Irish thoroughbred who was promptly put out to stud following his victory.

Only two horses have ever clinched sub-two-minute race times on the course, which is run over 10 furlongs (or 1.25 miles), wtih five-year-old Argentine horse Invasor being the most recent in 2007.

The Dubai World Cup is run on the Meydan Racecourse, which sits on grounds that stretch over 67 million square feet. It includes a 60,000 capacity grandstand that measures a full mile.

Entertainment is also put a premium, with Janet Jackson set to perform this year, following up Kylie Minogue’s glitzy routine last year.

And in Dubai, even the act of turning out in one’s best garb is subject to high stakes, with best dressed attendees taking home new sports cars.

Only in Dubai, one might say.