The 71st running of the Santa Anita Derby is still a week away, but there are a couple of major races taking place today.
In the United Arab Emirates at the Nad al Sheba Racecourse will be the $6-million Dubai World Cup, the world’s richest horse race. It caps off a seven-race card offering $21.25 million in purses.
Horse of the year Curlin heads a field of 13 in the 13th running of the Dubai World Cup and starts from post position 12. Other American contenders in the race are A.P. Arrow, Well Armed and Great Hunter.
Meanwhile in the U.S., the $1-million Florida Derby will be contested today at Gulfstream Park. Most of the horses in the field of 12 will be seeking enough prize money earned in stakes races to ensure a starting position in the Kentucky Derby on May 3.
The Kentucky Derby is limited to 20 horses based on money earned in graded races.
Untested Big Brown is two for two but is making his first foray into stakes competition. Hey Byrn also has no graded stakes earnings. Probable favorite Elysium Fields won $70,000 with a second in Gulfstream’s Fountain of Youth Stakes last month.
At Santa Anita, today’s feature is the Grade III $100,000 Tokyo City Cup, which until 2005 was the San Bernardino Handicap. The name change came about because of Santa Anita’s relationship with Tokyo City Keiba’s Ohi Racetrack.
The Tokyo City Cup is 1 1/2 miles on the main track. Heading the field are two Mike Mitchell-trained entries, Big Booster and Church Service. Richard Migliore, who on Sunday will be presented the George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award, will ride Big Booster.
Sunday’s Santa Anita card is highlighted by the $100,000 Santa Paula Stakes at 6 1/2 furlongs.
Leading the field is Lovely Isle, who finished second to Golden Doc A in the Grade I Las Virgenes Stakes at one mile Feb. 9.
But Lovely Isle faded to seventh after leading going into the far turn in the Grade I Santa Anita Oaks at 1 1/16 miles March 8.