Dubai World Cup day races – Red Desire to run in the Dubai World Cup
Trackwork at Meydan Racecourse
The brightest light of Japan’s four hopeful in Dubai this year is Red Desire, who has drawn the No. 3 post position Wednesday for the Emirates Airline Dubai World Cup (UAE-I). The race will be run for the first time on the Tapeta synthetic surface on Saturday, March 27 at the new $2-billion Meydan Racecourse and this year’s Dubai event has attracted a record number of entrants and many of the very best from around the world. Red Desire most surely fits that filling. The world's richest race, the $10-million Dubai World Cup, is eighth on the day's card and a full field of 14 guarantees to provide especially heated competition to viewers around the world.
The 4-year-old filly Red Desire is right up there with the best of them, coming off a surprise, highly impressive win of the Al Maktoum Challenge III held March 4. The win brought her overall career record to a stellar four wins in eight races, including a win of the domestic grade 1 Shuka Sho in Japan and seconds in the domestic grade 1 Oka Sho (Japanese 1000 Guineas) and Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks), the three races that make up what is known as the filly triple crown in Japan.
Red Desire was initially aimed for the Dubai Sheema Classic, but the win of the Al Maktoum Challenge III gave her the option of taking on the Dubai World Cup. Jockey-turned-trainer Mikio Matsunaga decided to go for the big one and reset his sights on the Dubai World Cup.
For Japan racing fans, the decision has surely helped assuage some of the disappointment felt when connections of super mare Vodka, originally booked for the Dubai World Cup as her farewell race, was forced to opt out for an earlier-than-expected retirement when she suffered a nosebleed after a lackluster run in the Al Maktoum Challenge III. She had bled following her Japan Cup win at the end of last November as well, which caused her to be forced to miss the yearend Japan finale Arima Kinen. Fans, hoping to see her race once more before being retired to broodmare duty, were crushed by the decision.
Red Desire, by the Sunday Silence-sired Manhattan Cafe, out of the Caerleon mare Great Sunrise, placed third in last year's Japan Cup behind winner Vodka and Oken Bruce Lee. If anyone can fit the shoes of Vodka, it is she.
In early betting action around the world, Red Desire's form has been duly recognized and garnered her a strong position as the likely fourth or fifth pick in the Dubai World Cup on race day. No one runner is heavily favored for the race, with France's top challenger and last year's winner of the Hong Kong Cup Vision d'Etat nose and nose with England's Twice Over as top pick, and dual Eclipse Award winner from the U.S. Gio Ponti and Gitano Hernando, also from England close, behind in the polls as to which horse will nab the winner's cut of the $10 million purse.
Red Desire has won at the Dubai World Cup 2,000-meter distance twice before. The Al Maktoum III as well as the Shuka Sho were both over 2,000 meters though the Shuka Sho is run over turf, unlike the synthetic surface of the Al Maktoum. The Dubai World Cup will also be run on the Tapeta synthetic dirt track. Red Desire won the Al Maktoum with a time of 2:02.6, the Shuka Sho in 1:58.2. The best time for the Dubai World Cup, which was run over real dirt until this year, was 1:59:50.
A win by Red Desire would be the first Dubai World Cup victory for Japan. Fifteen previous runners haven taken on the race since its begin in 1996, but none have been able to win it. To the Victory notched the best performance in 2001 with a second-place finish and the best run by a female horse in the Dubai World Cup thus far. Red Desire, Japan's top current top female 4-year-old , would grab both records with a winning run in the Dubai World Cup.
Paired with Red Desire will be French rider Christophe Soumillon, riding the filly for the first time. Soumillon lost his original mount in the Dubai World Cup earlier this month when Mike de Kock’s Eagle Mountain had to retire due to tendon problems and was fortunate to pick up the ride on this very capable filly.
Fellow Frenchman Olivier Peslier took the reins for the first time from her regular rider Hirofumi Shii for her last outing, but, previously committed, will be aboard the highly favored Vision d'Etat for the race. After the win of the Al Maktoum III, Peslier had expressed his personal hope that Red Desire would go the Dubai World Cup instead of the previously planned Dubai Sheema Classic.
Red Desire worked on the all-weather track alone on Tuesday under her assistant trainer Takashi Saito and the watchful eyes of trainer Matsunaga. She clocked 36.2 seconds for the last 600 meters, covering the last 200 meters in 10.8 seconds.
"She's coming along fine with little change from her last outing," Matsunaga said after work. "I think we can expect good things from her. We pushed her fairly hard today over 5 furlongs but were careful not to overdo it. If she comes out the same as she did going into the last race, we can look forward to a good run." Matsunaga said he planned to give Red Desire a rest from the track Wednesday and Thursday and take her out for a look-around on Friday.
"The field for the Dubai World Cup is stronger than the previous time," Matsunaga said, "but I hope she can run her race and produce her brilliant late kick."
Red Desire, bred by Shadai Farm in Hokkaido, is owned by Tokyo Horse Racing and has earned her owners some 295 million yen.
The Dubai World Cup will be run at 9:45 p.m. Saturday, March 27 local time, 2:45 a.m. Sunday, March 28 Japan time.
© Japan Association for International Racing and Stud Book (JAIRS). All Rights Reserved.