As the purses for the races on the Dubai World Cup program have increased over the years, so has participation by North American horses.
A total of 17 thoroughbreds who made their last start in either the U.S. or Canada have shipped to the United Arab Emirates for the six races with purses totaling $21 million Saturday. The main event is the $6-million Dubai World Cup at about 1 1/4 miles.
One of the five American horses who is scheduled to run in the World Cup is Brass Hat.
Continuing to show improvement for Buff Bradley, who trains the 5-year-old gelding for his father Fred, Brass Hat has won the New Orleans Handicap at Louisiana Downs and the Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park this year. He'll try to keep the roll going against Electrocutionist, Shakis, Kane Hekili, Choctaw Nation, Chiquitin, Maraahel, Magna Graduate, Wilko, Star King Man and Super Frolic.
Whether Brass Hat will win the biggest prize of his life Saturday remains to be seen, but, according to his trainer, he has done everything right since arriving in Dubai last week.
"He handled the trip a lot better than I did," Bradley said. "He really did take the trip well and that was my main concern coming over here.
"He hasn't missed an oat and he's been drinking plenty of water. We worked him on Monday night so he could get used to the lights and he did his usual thing. He went an easy half mile in 51 2/5 ."
Brass Hat, who will be ridden by regular jockey Willie Martinez, did not race for nearly 13 months after fracturing his right front ankle in the 2004 Lone Star Derby in Texas. He finished ninth as the 2-1 favorite that day.
"Since he's come back, every race has really been a big steppingstone for his next race," Bradley said. "We didn't have dreams or aspirations of coming to the World Cup. It was each race that put us here.
"I wouldn't trade horses with anybody at this point. I feel pretty confident and comfortable with the way my horse is coming into this race."
The races preceding the World Cup are the $1-million Godolphin Mile, the $2-million U.A.E. Derby, the $2-million Golden Shaheen, the $5-million Dubai Sheema Classic and the $5-million Dubai Duty Free.
The Golden Shaheen, which is run at about six furlongs, has lured four sprinters who have been racing in California -- Malibu winner Proud Tower Too, Jet West, Captain Squire and Thor's Echo -- while the Duty Free, which is run at about 1 1/8 miles on the turf, attracted The Tin Man and Whilly.
Santa Anita will offer advance wagering today on the six races from Dubai. On Saturday, mutuel windows at Santa Anita will open at 6:30 a.m., meaning wagering will be offered only on the last four races.
At its monthly meeting Thursday at Golden Gate Fields, the California Horse Racing Board agreed to accept its medication committee's recommendation that the owners of the four horses who finished behind 3-10 favorite Intercontinental in the $180,000 Palomar Breeders' Cup Handicap at Del Mar last Sept. 3 be allowed to protest and request a hearing for a possible redistribution of the purse.
Intercontinental, who went on to win the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf and the Eclipse Award as the top female turf performer in 2005, was found to have been treated with Lasix after the Palomar deadline and should have been scratched.
The winner's share of the purse for the Palomar was $120,000. Amorama finished second in the Grade II race and was followed by Ticker Tape, Katdogawn and Cotopaxi.