DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - Well done, Well Armed.
Stretching the lead with every stride over the final half mile or so, Well Armed ran away with the US$6-million Dubai World Cup by a record 14 lengths Saturday.
The six-year-old gelding not only turned the final race at Nad al Sheba into one to remember but also claimed the richest prize in horse racing. Next year, the track will be replaced by a $1.25-billion racing complex.
"Last race at Nad Al Sheba, and we won it!" winning jockey Aaron Gryder said.
Did they ever.
Well Armed took the lead out of the gate, then broke away from the pack in the stretch for the easy victory in which the favourites finished well back in the 14-horse field.
The winning margin nearly doubled the record of 7 3/4 lengths set by Canadian-bred Curlin last year. Gryder was so confident he began patting his horse's neck about 10 strides before the finish.
"This horse really showed everyone in the world how good he is," Gryder said, then asked: "Who was second?"
Brazil-bred Gloria de Campeao was the distant runner-up, with Saudi-owned Paris Perfect third.
Earlier, Dubai ruler Sheik Mohammed appeared to expand his Kentucky Derby options with the "surprise" win of Regal Ransom in the UAE Derby, with stablemate Desert Party second.
The pre-race favourites for the World Cup - American-trained Albertus Maximus and Asiatic Boy, last year's runner-up - never seriously challenged in the 1 1/4-mile race on dirt softened by intermittent rain. Albertus Maximus was sixth and Asiatic Boy was 12th.
"He was fighting me, said Alan Garcia, who was aboard Albertus Maximus. "I can't really explain it right now."
It was just the seventh win in 23 starts for Well Armed, trained by Eoin Harty and owned by Kentucky's WinStar Farm.
"His best performance ever," Gryder said. "He just kept extending himself."
Added Harty, who used to train for Sheik Mohammed: "It's the biggest win of the career. I owe a lot to His Highness Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who got me started and plucked me from relative obscurity."
Regal Ransom, with Frankie Dettori aboard, beat Desert Party in the $2-million UAE Derby.
"I always said this horse could be a surprise horse," said Saeed bin Surorr, Sheik Mohammed's trainer. "I am happy with that.
"We'll see (in terms of the Kentucky Derby). No plan."
It was nearly back-to-back wins for Dettori during the world's richest night of racing. In the previous race, the $1-million Godolphin mile, Dettori rode Two Step Salsa to victory over another Godolphin entry, Gayego, who was 17th in last year's Kentucky Derby.
Godolphin has had five entries at Churchill Downs since 1999 - most recently Essence of Dubai, who finished ninth in 2002.
In the $5-million Dubai Sheema Classic, Eastern Anthem won by a nose in a thrilling three-way finish.
The Ireland-bred five-year-old, ridden by local Emirates jockey Ahmad Ajtebi, crossed first in a late surge over Spanish Moon and Purple Moon on the turf after 12 furlongs. It was back-to-back victories for Ajtebi, who rode winner Gladiatorus in the $5-million Dubai Duty Free. Rick-Dutrow-trained Kip Deville was 10th in the Duty Free.
In the $2-million Golden Shaheen, Big City Man held off favourite Indian Blessing by 1 1/4 lengths.