By Laura Pugh
Last year, when I learned Dubai was uprooting it's premiere track, Nad Al Sheba, and "remodeling" it into the dream track of Medayen, I was among those who was not so enthusiastic. Why was I so unenthusiastic by this transformation? Because they took out conventional dirt and replace it with synthetics. You do not simply change what has worked just because you had an impulse. Dubai has been the site of elite racing, the World Cup has drawn the likes of Curlin, Cigar, Roses in May, Silver Charm, Dubai Millennium, Invasor, Electrocutionist, Street Cry, and so many more. It was a showcase for the most talented dirt horses in the world!
Compare the field of the 2010 Dubai world Cup to the previous fields that ran at Nad Al Sheba, and you will find this year's field lacking. The winner Gloria de Campeao, was a good horse, but had no business winning a race as prestigious as the World Cup. In fact in 08' Gloria de Campeao did not even hit the board, beaten over 17 lengths. The next year he was beaten by 14 lengths to Well Armed, who ran third the previous year. Gloria de Campeao is a good horse, but world class, he is not.
Some may say that the reason Nad Al Sheba was replaced with Medayen was because the ruler of Dubai felt that the synthetic surface would make an equal playing ground for both turf and dirt horses alike. I say, if that is true, if he installed the Tapeata in order to draw a field where both turf and dirt specialists could compete on a level playing field, then, why install another turf track? What need would there be for it if the synthetic was to bring the world of turf and dirt together? The answer is that there is no reason. The real reason, in my opinion, the surfaces were switched was to prevent Americans from further dominating on dirt.
Out of the fourteen World Cups run on dirt American bred/owned/trained horses won exactly half of the runnings, and eight American bred horses came out on top, the eighth horse being Electrocutionist. The other half, which would seem to even the score was won by UAE owned horses, however from 2004 to 2009 Americans won four of the runnings, while the UAE recorded only two. It should also be noted that the ruler of Dubai has yet to produce a true UAE winner of the World Cup. By that I mean he has never actually bred a winner himself.
This was the true reason behind the switch in my opinion. The sheik already knew that Americans were not fans of synthetics. He knew that we dominated in dirt, but not on synthetics, and much less on turf, so he picked a surface that he knew would reduce the Americans chances of winning his race. Though his plan seemed to backfire somewhat, when the Godolphin owned Allybar ran second to the Brazil bred and owned Gloria de Campeao. And to make the loss seem to sting a little more, it was by the length of a nose. To bad, so sad for Dubai.
To me, this was a cowardly, envious act that basically admits that the UAE has inferior horses to the USA. The ruler, now cowardly hides behind synthetics, and a fake excuse that synthetic will bring turf and dirt horses equally together. I say, you want to shut America out, fine, let us shut you out by never again sending out most prized dirt or turf horses out to the Mid West. We risk enough, just by trying to make the trip. We risk never seeing the same star we sent out, return to the championship form they once had. Now they go and add synthetics! Personally, I would tell the sheik he can keep his fake surface and monopoly money, I'll earn prestige elsewhere.