Dubai World Cup Review
The G1 Dubai World Cup truly came of age at Meydan on Saturday, two decades after Allen Paulson's Cigar gave it the seal of authenticity by romping home with the inaugural running.
The symmetry to it all was amazing. In 1996, Cigar was the most glittering equine star in America, a horse capable of drawing crowds and luring TV executives into making extra time to cover racing on their networks.
This year, 2016, California Chrome, another American horse with tremendous box office appeal, galloped away from his rivals to score by three and three-quarter lengths in one of the most popular wins in the history of the US$10m race.
California Chrome began from the second outside gate (11) and sat three and four horses wide up front virtually the entire 2,000m trip, yet he still overwhelmed his rivals and accelerated away to take the 21st running of the Dubai World Cup.
His jockey Victor Espinoza spent most of his time in the last 200m coping with a shifting saddle that was sliding backwards - though it failed to stop him standing high in the irons, waving his whip in celebration.
There was some justice in the result as California Chrome had finished second (to Prince Bishop) in 2015 after being trapped wide, though not to the same extent as this year. Trainer Art Sherman's view that his horse was five lengths better than last year was probably accurate - and he needed to be.
The Mike De Kock-trained Mubtaahij took second, with Hoppertunity third and Special Fighter fourth.
Godolphin's Frosted ran with credit for his fifth. He, too, found it impossible to slot in close the rail from a wide gate (9), though he did get some cover in behind California Chrome before having to go five wide on the home bend.
Jockeys do not give an inch to their rivals in the Dubai World Cup, such is the importance of positioning in a race with huge prizemoney.
For Godolphin, Tryster was a true star at this international meeting, finishing third in the G1 Dubai Turf. Again, he was dropped out at the start, but his finishing burst was not so effective at this level and he was beaten two and a half lengths by Japanese winner Real Steel.
Tryster will now be prepared for a European campaign, aiming at races over a mile and a quarter.
Godolphin's Haafaguinea turned in a big run to take third in the G2 Dubai Gold Cup, won by French stayer Vazirabad.
The G1 Dubai Sheema Classic was one of the strongest international fields seen in recent times, yet Postponed, a son of Dubawi, made it look easy and he seems set to build on his big win in last year's King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot in 2016.