DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, March 27 (UPI) -- American horses drew some challenging gates for Saturday $10 million Dubai World Cup but their handlers remained optimistic.
Dullahan will start from gate No. 3 in the World Cup, Royal Delta from No. 8 and Animal Kingdom from post position 12. Thirteen horses, including the top three from last year's running of the world's richest race, are set to contest the 1 1/4-mile event on the Meydan Racecourse all-weather surface.
The Group 1 World Cup is one of nine top stakes to be run at the plush facility. Eight are for Thoroughbreds, one for Purebred Arabians.
Jerry Crawford, representing the Donegal Racing partnership that owns Dullahan, said he was happy with that spot because Dullahan is 3-for-3 in Grade I races over all-weather tracks and he started from gates 3, 4 and 5 in those events.
Gary Stevens will ride Dullahan and Crawford told the post position draw audience that trainer Dale Romans "asked me to remind you that he is undefeated in the World Cup."
Stevens won the event in 1998 on Silver Charm before retiring from riding. He came out of retirement early this year and, Crawford noted, "His comeback is going extraordinarily well."
Stevens will have to call on his considerable skill and experience to prevent getting Dullahan trapped on the inside behind the early speed.
Animal Kingdom, the 2011 Kentucky Derby winner, missed this race last year with an injury. He was left almost outside this year's edition when Barry Irwin, head of the ownership syndicate Team Valor was forced by the luck of the draw to take gate No. 12. "We wanted 11," he quipped. "Hopefully, this post won't be too bad."
"Our tactics won't change and he's capable of coming from off of it if he has to," added trainer Graham Motion. "After all, we won the (Kentucky) Derby from Post 16."
Animal Kingdom has been plagued with minor injuries and is to retire to stud at mid-year in Australia. A win Saturday would be a boost for his bloodlines and future career, Irwin said.
Royal Delta, a 5-year-old mare, contested this race last year but was never a factor after getting a rough trip. Trainer Bill Mott, who won the first World Cup with Cigar, said he was happy enough with that starting gate and even happier with the way Royal Delta, winner of last fall's Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic, is coming up to the race.
"We decided right after the race if she could earn her way back and have a good year in the U.S., we'd be back," Mott said. "She is a year older and she has been a little stronger in her preparations this year."
While there is no betting in the United Arab Emirates, British bookmakers have Royal Delta among the favorites.
Among the other starters, Monerosso will start from gate No. 10 in trying to become the first two-time World Cup winner for his owner, host Sheik Mohammed bin Rasheed al Maktoum, ruler of Dubai and head of the Godolphin Racing juggernaut.
Capponi, owned by Sheik Hamdan bin Rasheed al Maktoum, finished second last year and will start this time from No. 5. Last year's third-place finisher, Planteur, drew No. 7.
French hope Meandre starts from No. 9; Germany's Kassiano from the outside gate; and globetrotters Red Cadeaux and Treasure Beach from No. 2 and 1, respectively.
The field for Sunday's $10 million Dubai World Cup, by post position, with trainer and jockey:
2. Red Cadeaux, Ed Dunlop, Gerald Mosse
3. Dullahan, Dale Romans, Gary Stevens
4. Hunter's Light, Saeed Bin Suroor, Silvestre De Sousa
5. Capponi, Mahmood Al Zarooni, Ahmed Ajtebi
6. Side Glance, Andrew Balding, Jamie Spencer
7. Planteur, Marco Botti, Ryan Moore
8. Royal Delta, Bill Mott, Mike Smith
9. Meandre, Andre Fabre, Maxime Guyon
10. Monterosso, Mahmood Al Zarooni, Mickeal Barzalona
11. African Story, Saeed bin Suroor, Kieren Fallon
12. Animal Kingdom, Graham Motion, Joel Rosario
13. Kassiano, Saeed bin Suroor, William Buick