By Richard Rosenblatt
The $35 million Dubai World Cup meeting, which features the $12 million Dubai World Cup (G1), has been canceled “due to the ongoing global health implications of the coronavirus (COVID-19).’’
The decision to call off the world’s second richest race comes just six days before the event, and with horses competing from around the world already at Meydan Racecourse in Dubai.
“Due to the ongoing global health implications of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and the precautionary measures being implemented by the UAE government, the organizing committee regrets to announce the cancellation of the Dubai World Cup 2020 meeting at Meydan Racecourse on Saturday, March 28,’’ said Saeed Al Tayer, Chairman of the Board & CEO of Meydan Group LLC, in a statement released Sunday.
The decision is not a surprise, but it comes such a short time before the race, which will make it much more difficult for human and equine travel back home to the United States, Japan, and other countries.
The Dubai World Cup, the richest day in horse racing, was gearing up for its’ 25th edition, and the day was set to showcase eight races, including five Grade 1 and three Grade 2 races.
Among U.S.-based horses expected to be entered Wednesday were Bob Baffert-trained Mucho Gusto, Bill Mott-trained Tacitus, 2019 Belmont Stakes winner Sir Winston, Math Wizard and War Story.
Four horses from Japan were set to run – Chrysoberyl, Chum Wizard, Gold Dream and Master Fencer. Other entries were to be Benbatl, Matterhorn and Gronkowski.
Among the other races canceled was the UAE Derby, a designated Kentucky Derby qualifying race offering 100-40-20-10 points to the first four finishers. Since the Derby already has been postponed from its traditional first Saturday in May to Sept. 2 because of the coronavirus pandemic, no less than three Derby points-earning races have been canceled – the Sunland Derby and the Blue Grass Stakes are the others.
U.S-based horses scheduled to run in the UAE Derby were Fore Left, Rowdy Yates, Shotski, Tizmagician and Wrecking Crew.
In comments to Gulf News on Sunday, Godolphin trainer Saeed bin Suror said, “Obviously this is very disappointing news, but it’s the right decision as the safety of all concerned is of great importance. These are very difficult times and my thoughts are with everyone, not just the racing community, but everyone living in the UAE and also all those who are under the threat of the coronavirus around the world.”
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Over the years while working at The Associated Press, Rich Rosenblatt became a familiar name to legions of the horse racing fans and industry insiders with his award-winning articles on horse racing and his stories from the backstretch.
In addition to being an astute observer of sports, Rosenblatt is the co-author of The All-American Chili Cookbook. His work has been seen in just about every publication in the world, including The New York Times, The Washington Post and Time Magazine.