The Dubai World Cup is one of the biggest races of the year. The race has been held annually since 1996 and comes with a $10 million purse, making it the richest horse racing tournament in the world. The Dubai World Cup is run by the Emirates Racing Authority and has nine races in total. Eight of the races are thoroughbred contests, and one is a contest for purebred Arabian horses.
The Dubai World Cup is open to 4-year-old horses from the Northern Hemisphere and 3-year-olds from the Southern Hemisphere. Some of the best and most popular horses in the world have raced at the Dubai World Cup, including winners of Triple Crown races and the Breeders’ Cup.
While the Triple Crown races, which consist of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont Stakes, are considered the biggest races in the sport, the Dubai World Cup, and Breeders’ Cup are also considered to be just as prestigious even if they don’t get the same amount of attention as the Triple Crown races.
Horse racing fans from all over the world travel to the United Arab Emirates to watch the Dubai World Cup, which is held on the last Saturday in March every year.
Some of the past winners of the Dubai World Cup include Cigar, the first horse to win the race and a two-time United States Horse of the Year as well as the 1995 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner. Silver Charm won the Dubai World Cup in 1998, after winning the Kentucky Derby and Preakness in 1997. Curlin won the Preakness in 2007 and followed it up with a win at the Dubai World Cup in 2008.
As a horse racing fan, one of the best experiences at the Dubai World Cup actually doesn’t have anything to do with the horse racing. Dubai is known for its flair, and at the World Cup, it is fully displayed in the opening and closing ceremony.
The opening ceremony at the Dubai World Cup 2016 featured a video montage of all the major sports like tennis, soccer, basketball, a light show, and of course, fireworks to kick off the festivities. After the ceremony was over, the announcer officially welcomed everyone to the Dubai World Cup 2016.
The closing ceremony for the Dubai World Cup 2016 was similar to the spectacular opening ceremony. There was music and a video honoring the winning horse, then it concluded with five minutes of one of the best fireworks shows you will ever see.
When it came down to the race itself, it was a night of vindication for California Chrome, who finished second at the race in 2015. California Chrome entered the race in 2015 coming off in an impressive year in which he won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. California Chrome almost became the first horse to win the Triple Crown since 1978, but he was injured during the race and finished fourth.
After the disappointing end to his Triple Crown chase, California Chrome finished third at the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
In 2015, California Chrome finished second in his first race of the year but was favored to win the Dubai World Cup. However, he finished second to Prince Bishop in Dubai and was injured soon after that, which led to speculation that he might not race again.
After taking nine months off to heal from his injuries, California Chrome won his first race in 2016 by a narrow margin. After the race, he shipped off to Dubai. Despite having only one race in almost a year, California Chrome was once again favored to win the race and this time; he did not disappoint the fans.
California Chrome started the Dubai World Cup from the outside post and looked comfortable stalking the pace set by Mshawish. Chrome would stay close to the lead for most of the race, but by the time the final turn came around, he gave Triple Crown winning Jockey Victor Espinoza all he had and charged towards the finish.
Mubtaahij, one of the other favorites, tried to catch up to California Chrome but didn’t have enough left in the tank to get close. By the end of the race, California Chrome not only won convincingly, he also came close to breaking the track record of 2:01.61, set by African Story in 2014, but finished shy of the record with a time of 2:01.83.
Despite missing out on the record, it was great to see California Chrome race like he did a couple of years ago, especially after all the injury issued he dealt with in the last year. The Dubai World Cup was definitely a great experience and something to look forward to attending in the future.
Bellow is a small selection of photos from the Dubai World Cup 2016 event.