A full field of 14 horses has been entered for Saturday’s running of the Dubai World Cup race, the world’s richest horse race. Canadian Chantal Sutherland will make history by being the first female jockey to ride in the contest. Meanwhile, Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott is hoping the filly Royal Delta will also make history by becoming the first female horse to win the crown.
The 36-year-old Sutherland has been around horses nearly her entire life. Her father owned thoroughbred race horses and tried to discourage Chantal from joining the sport of kings when she wanted to ride in 2000.
But Hall of Fame jockey Angel Cordero encouraged the Canadian and she won her first race in October of that year at Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto. By 2002 she had become one of Canada’s top athletes, earning nearly $6 million in purses. Sutherland also spent time in New York and Florida, honing her skills and gathering wins. She later moved to Southern California where many jockeys train to be in a better position to compete in the Breeder’s Cup races.
She has more than 900 career victories including last year’s Santa Anita Handicap and the Goodwood Stakes, both aboard Game On Dude.
Sutherland was also riding Game On Dude last November when she finished second to former boyfriend Mike Smith at the Breeder’s Cup Classic at Churchill Downs, Kentucky. She has ridden the horse to three wins in six starts so far this season.
Sutherland and Game On Dude will break from the No. 14 post in Saturday’s race.
The horse is trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert. Baffert is recovering from a heart attack suffered earlier this week, but plans to be track-side for Saturday’s race. The white-haired, irrepressible 59-year-old trainer even tweeted that he needed to win the $10 million World Cup “just to break even on medical bills.”
Sutherland is also well-known for her off-the-track work as an actress and model. She has appeared in the HBO Television series Luck, starring Dustin Hoffman and written by David Milch. Sutherland has also been featured in Sports Illustrated, Vogue, Playboy, and People magazines and will be in the June edition of Vanity Fair.
Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott knows what it is like to win the Dubai World Cup – Mott captured the first Dubai World Cup in 1996 with two-time Horse of the Year, Cigar. This year, he is hoping his four-year-old filly Royal Delta can bring him success at Dubai.
To win, Royal Delta will have to beat favorite So You Think, trained by Ireland’s Aiden O’Brien and breaking from the No. 4 post. O’Brien’s son Joseph, who won the Breeder’s Cup Turf title in November, will ride So You Think.
Second favorite Smart Falcon – one of three Japanese entries in the field - will start from the No. 5 stall. Smart Falcon is Japan’s most successful horse this year, winning nine straight races. The other two Japanese entries are Eishin Flash and Transcend, who finished runner-up to his Japanese compatriot, Victoire Pisa, in the Dubai World Cup last year. Transcend will start from the No. 10 post while Eishin Flash breaks from the No. 2 stall.
Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin stable has four of the five locally-trained horses in Saturday’s contest: Capponi (11), Monterosso (8), Prince Bishop (12) and Mendip (13). The sheik’s principal jockey, Frankie Dettori, has elected to ride Prince Bishop. Capponi has won his last two races on this surface, including a four-length victory in the Al Maktoum Challenge earlier this month.
Others in the field include Master of Hounds, Zazou, Planteur, and Silver Pond. The Classic is the last race on a card that begins Saturday morning at 8:30 am local time (0530 UTC). The nine-race card features 123 horse with total purses of $27.25 million.
David Byrd is a journalist, writer, video editor and photographer. He is also the host of VOA's American Cafe, a weekly show covering life and culture in the United States.