Massacre in Meydan: US 0 for 28 Saturday

While US bred/trained dirt horses remain unable to transfer that form to synthetics, Japan seems to have no such issues in running 1-2 in the $10 million Dubai World Cup. To be fair winner Victoire Pisa raced over turf in the Land of the Rising Sun, runner up Transcend was campaigned strictly over dirt – and both trained extensively on the unforgiving surface at home.

Don’t forget there were several turf races on the card Saturday as well, how did US runners fare when surface was eliminated from the equation? Not so good, as US turf horses made 10 starts and the best they could manage was a single 5th place finish.

Let’s step back and define what makes a ‘US’ horse. Is it the breeding? How about the conditioning? Of the 28 starts by US bred horses – only 2 places and 1 show were the result. Most notably one of those 2nd place finishes and the 3rd place finish were from horses bred in the US, but raced and conditioned in other countries. Without the effort of Bob Baffert’s Euroears in the 6F Golden Shaheen Sprint on Tapeta – strictly US born and trained horses would have been 0 for 15. Ouch.

Aidan O’Brien ran a strong 2nd with Master of Hounds, a US bred colt that undoubtedly has benefitted from training at Coolmore with the latest technology including heart rate and GPS monitoring:

This blog has well chronicled the difference in training styles between the US and other countries, for details see:

So, let’s stop arguing about surfaces for once – dirt, turf, and synthetics are all different in various ways, but a versatile horse can make the jump as evidenced this weekend by our Japanese friends. Of course we should also address the raceday drugs issue, of all the competitors in Dubai only the US allows such medication – and it doesn’t seem to do us any favors. Again, Well Armed and Curlin seemed just fine on dirt in the desert without the benefit of Lasix or Bute. Perhaps cheap horses need the help, but it’s an insult for our graded stakes winners to use the crutch of a syringe.

Noted druggie I Want Revenge disappointed greatly finishing 10th, while unable to “enjoy” the pre-race joint injections that have resulted in legal proceedings here in America:

Make no mistake, the US owns the dirt as evidenced by the triumphs of Curlin and Well Armed over previous runnings of the world’s richest horse race when it was held at Nad Al Sheba. All sports employ a home field advantage of some type, it’s only the best team and players that can overcome that adversity and unfamiliarity to win games and races. At least this weekend Japan made that transition in the thoroughbred world with great success, and I hope that gives the wonderful people of that country a brief respite from all of their troubles. Hats off to Sheikh Mo for graciously congratulating the winners with great enthusiasm in the face of a disappointing World Cup performance on his home course.

I love the US, and I feel we have the best bloodstock in the world. It will take some time, but eventually horsemanship will prevail, raceday drugs will be gone, and we will condition our horses for more than 15 minutes a day – or will I be writing this same piece again after Dubai World Cup 2021?


About bpressey

Equine Exercise Physiologist

Posted on March 27, 2011, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Quick Note: Back in 2006 the trainer of Victoire Pisa, Katsuhiko Sumii, took 2 runners down to Melbourne and captured the 1-2 slots in the vaunted test of stamina (3200m) known as the Melbourne Cup. Soon afterwards quarantine rules were changed as to preclude Japanese involvement for the next few seasons.

    I just realized that this weekend was the first time Japan competed in the Dubai World Cup as well. As a side note, when I started my involvement in equine exercise physiology the first 20 pages of research I came across originated from Japan in the 90’s.

    • “Soon afterwards quarantine rules were changed as to preclude Japanese involvement for the next few seasons.”

      They rattled the Aussies that badly? Then that’s definitely the best compliment possible to Mr. Sumii in particular and to Japanese training in general.

  2. Japan have been competing in Dubai since it started, for example they had Red Desire in last years race & casino drive in 2009. They have won quite a few of the turf races over the years notably with Hearts Cry.

    Gio Ponti ran a great race in this years WC even after suffering an insect bite on his eye & pulling far too hard, he was still only beat under 2 lengths. The key to this years race was the rides, the first 2 were infront when the race started off a very slow pace, very similar to last year.

    Imo the change to tapeta has been a major mistake for the race, no champions will ever emerge on tapeta off a slow pace.

    Quarantine laws have been changed again so Japan can race again in the Melborne Cup, they had 1 runner in 2010 (a 100/1 shot tokai trick who ran mid div)

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