Frankie Dettori left the best for last to win the 26th Dubai World Cup on Bob Baffert’s Country Grammer at Meydan Racecourse on Saturday.
The Italian reached another milestone in a remarkable career by joining American legend Jerry Bailey as the most successful jockey with four Dubai World Cup winners.
Dettori sent Country Grammer through with a well-timed run to win from Hot Rod Charlie by a length and-a-quarter with Japan’s Chuwa Wizard a further half-a-length behind in third.
Life Is Good led for most of the way but failed to stay the 2,000-metre trip to finish fourth. Bhupat Seemar’s Remorse under Tadhg O’Shea was best of the local runners, finishing sixth behind Midnight Bourbon.
Irad Oritze jumped into the lead On Life Is Good’s first attempt on the trip, and Todd Pletcher’s Into Mischief colt appeared to have his rivals under pressure as the runners turned for home.
However, when Ortiz went to kick clear the distress signals started to show, as Life Is Good wandered around and he was closed down by the chasing pack, led by Country Grammer.
“I have equalled Jerry Bailey now,” Dettori said. “All my other three wins came on the Nad Al Sheba track so it's nice to have a winner at Meydan.
“When the draw came out, I had just wanted to put him on the fence. At the half-mile, I wasn't able to keep on with the front two but in the end they came back to me.
“At the furlong pole, it was surreal as I knew I was going to win. It's just unbelievable. It's like a dream, to have the crowd behind me and I really believed in this horse for [co-owner Amr] Zedan and Bob and it was just great.”
Dettori had previously won the Dubai World Cup on Dubai Millennium, Moon Ballad and Electrocutionist, but this was the first time he had done so in colours other than those of Godolphin.
For Baffert, the success comes at a time when he’s battling racing authorities back home in America on several fronts following Medina Spirit’s positive post-race test for prohibited race day substances when winning last year’s Kentucky Derby.
Baffert’s fourth success in the Dubai World Cup makes him the second most successful trainer after Godolphin’s Saeed bin Suroor, who has won the prize nine times and also the first trainer to win the title twice in a row with Thunder Snow in 2018 and 2019.
“It’s been a long trip, Frankie just rode him awesome,” Baffert’s assistant Jimmy Barnes, said
“He couldn't have done any better. The speed worked out just as we thought it would, he put him in a close enough spot that when he called upon him, he's a true mile-and-a-quarter horse and it kicked in.
“I give a lot of credit to Bob Baffert for his ability to come back and perform, it's what we do, we're great off a lay-off. I'm just so excited.
“I was here when Arrogate won the Dubai World Cup, so this is my second with Bob and it is very, very special.”
Doug O'Neill, trainer of runner-up Hot Rod Charlie, said his horse had a great run to finish second.
“We're super proud, Leandro Mora and all the guys have been here the whole time and they've done a great job,” he said.
“We wanted to win of course but we're super proud and mid-race we were thinking it just wasn't Charlie's day. He then re-engaged and got up for second so it was a great night.”