A Crowning Achievement in Dubai

Times Staff Writer

Six years ago, Sheik Mohammed, the crown prince of Dubai, won his own race, the Dubai World Cup, with Singspiel. On Saturday it was Moon Ballad, a 4-year-old son of Singspiel, who landed the sheik’s Godolphin racing stable in the same winner’s circle.

The eight-year trend in the $6-million race, the richest in the world, suggests that outsiders need not apply. Moon Ballad’s front-end, five-length win added up to the fifth World Cup victory for Sheik Mohammed and his brother.

About 800 miles from war-besieged southern Iraq, Dubai’s six-race, $15-million racing spectacle went on as scheduled, and much of the purse money stayed in town. Besides the World Cup, Godolphin also won the $2-million Sheema Classic with Sulamani and the $1-million Godolphin Mile with Firebreak, as Frankie Dettori got to perfect his flying dismount after riding all three winners.

Godolphin’s Kentucky Derby hopefuls, Songlark and Inamorato, ran second and third as Victory Moon won the $2-million United Arab Emirates Derby, and another race that got away from Godolphin was the $2-million Dubai Duty Free, which was won by the mare Ipi Tombe, bought by a U.S. group earlier this year and winner of her seventh in a row.


Another $2-million race, the Dubai Golden Shaheen, went to State City, who paid $127 to win in betting that was conducted in the U.S.

Medaglia d’Oro, who would have been the strongest U.S. threat in the World Cup, stayed in California to wait for a race closer to home. Harlan’s Holiday came from Florida to run second, one length ahead of another house horse, Nayef, who was making his first start on dirt. Grandera, a horse Dettori could have ridden, finished fourth.

Moon Ballad, who paid $8.80, has won five of 10 starts, but this was his first Group 1 win. Simon Crisford, racing manager for Godolphin, said the horse will have a midyear European campaign that might lead to an appearance in the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita on Oct. 25.

Dettori has won 10 races on Dubai World Cup days, including a win aboard Dubai Millennium in the $6-million race in 2000.

“When I turned for home, I had the same feeling I had with Dubai Millennium,” Dettori said. “I couldn’t hear the other horses, all I heard was the crowd cheering. I knew I had it won, and I was able to enjoy the last two furlongs.”

Ipi Tombe, ridden by Kevin Shea, is a Zimbabwe-bred 5-year-old trained by Michael de Kock, who also saddled Victory Moon. Barry Irwin, president of the Kentucky-based Team Valor group, bought the horse while on a trip to South Africa to look at other horses and races Ipi Tombe in a partnership with WinStar Farm and Sunmark Partners. The winner, the only female in the field, survived a foul claim to pay $3.60.


Owner Jeffrey Sengara, trainer Ted H. West and his father, Ted West, claimed Bud- royale for $50,000 and went on to win more than $2 million with him.


The same horsemen have struck again. Bluesthestandard, claimed off trainer Mark Glatt for $50,000 on Dec. 31, made his stakes debut at Santa Anita and won the $134,000 Potrero Grande Handicap.

Other stakes winners were Hero’s Tribute in the Gulfstream Park Handicap, I’madrifter in the Berkeley Handicap at Golden Gate Fields and Carson Hollow in the Distaff Handicap at Aqueduct.