Initial nominations for Dubai World Cup night on March 25, as usual, read like a "who's who" of the equine world.
Nominations for the $10 million Cup itself include the world's highest rated horse, Arrogate, plus the duo finishing second and third last year to California Chrome -- Mubtaahij and Hoppertunity. Songbird (Cup) and Tepin (Dubai Turf) are nominated from the U.S. distaff ranks, as are sprinters Mind Your Biscuits and Defrong.
South African trainer Mike de Kock will try for the fifth time to convert a UAE Derby winner to the following year's World Cup winner. Victory Moon returned a third in 2004, Asiatic Boy second in 2008, Musir seventh in 2011 and Mubtaahij second last year.
Irish kingpin Aidan O'Brien has nominated a group including Highland Reel and Seventh Heaven.
In all, 779 horses from 22 countries were nominated at the initial stage, with two paid nomination deadlines yet to come. Last year, 709 horses from 20 countries were nominated at the same stage.
"We are gratified that our support for international racing in the form of subsidies and prize money continues to attract such a strong response from the world's biggest names," said Malih Al Basti, Meydan vice chairman and chairman of the Meydan Racing Committee.
"Yet, we are just as pleased to welcome to the Dubai World Cup the relative newcomers to the world stage from countries such as South Korea. Our wish, and that of Sheik Mohammed bin Rasheed al Maktoum, vice president and prime minister of the UAE and ruler of Dubai, when he founded the Dubai World Cup in 1996, was to create a truly global event and it is rewarding to see that vision fulfilled year after year."