With a bevy of American horses already overseas for Saturday’s Dubai World Cup night, headlined by the $12 million feature, the race card has been called off, the latest major international sporting event canceled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 25th edition at Meydan was to include nine races — six Group 1s and three Group 2s — totaling $35 million in total purse money.

It was announced previously that the World Cup would be run without paid attendees on site — only essential personnel to run the races, sponsors and media.

Dubai’s official media office announced the decision was made “to safeguard the health of all participants.” Saeed H. Al Tayer, chairman of the board and CEO of Meydan, added in a statement that “precautionary measures” were being taken by Dubai’s government.

Exiting the $20 million Saudi Cup, Mucho Gusto and Tacitus remained in the Middle East for the Dubai World Cup. They were joined by a recent traveling contingent that included Belmont Stakes winner Sir Winston, Grade 1 winner Math Wizard and War Story, third most recently in the Pegasus World Cup (G1).

A number of American jockeys, however, declined to make the trip, citing the two-week quarantine before being able to ride again in the United States. The top trainer Aidan O’Brien and his son, Joseph, also declined to bring their invited horses from Ireland.

Since Dubai officials announced their closed-door plans, COVID-19 cases worldwide continued to multiply. Still, it seemed the races were on, at least until Sunday’s news.

U.S.-based trainer Luis Carvajal Jr., who conditions the would-be Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1) favorite Imperial Hint, tweeted that he “can’t believe that they (waited) until few days before we run” to cancel.

2020 Dubai World Cup (G1)