2015 UAE Derby Preview
The Road to the Kentucky Derby takes an international flavor on Saturday with the UAE Derby from Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The majestic Meydan Racecourse is the setting for this race with 10 horses participating from both the northern and southern hemisphere.
The UAE Derby has a purse of $2,000,000 and will also see an increased point total payout to the top four finishers. The winner receives 100 points, second place receives 40 points, third place receives 20 points, and fourth place receives 10 points. The winner is assured of a spot in the Kentucky Derby via the Kentucky Derby Points Leaderboard, but whether the connections are willing to ship across the Atlantic is another story.
The UAE Derby is a Group 2 race at one mile and three sixteenths over main track, which is now dirt at Meydan after several years of being Tapeta. The UAE Derby has an early post time of 9:55 AM Eastern Time and free past performances can be found here.
1. Mubtaahij (5-2 Morning Line) – His first two races were on turf in Great Britain where he finished in the middle of the pack both times. Since coming to Dubai he has excelled on the dirt oval with no finish worse than second. He was second in the Group 3 UAE Two Thousand Guineas by a head and then won the Al Bastakiya at this 9.5 furlong distance. He is the morning line favorite for a reason and he will be tough to beat.
2. Motaa (40-1 ML) – This three year old son of Premium Tap has race four times, all in Saudi Arabia. He won his first three races by open lengths (none less than 7 1/2 lengths) before trying the Group 1 King Abdulaziz. He finished second by 4 lengths where he lost to the horse to his right. He has yet to race beyond a mile and it remains to be seen if he can get the 9.5 furlongs.
3. Alnajem Alfaiz (20-1 ML) – Just like Motaa, he has raced four times in Saudi Arabia. He was third in his debut before reeling off three straight wins. He last two wins were in the Group 3 National Guard Cup and Group 1 King Abdulaziz. He too has not raced beyond a mile, but he could provide value underneath in the exotics.
4. Sir Fever (3-1 ML) – Here we have a Uruguayan raced son of Texas Fever. He will be carrying 131 pounds due to being born in the Southern Hemisphere, which makes him 4 years old. He raced 10 times in Uruguay going a perfect 10 for 10 before coming over to Dubai in March for the Al Bastakiya. He lost that race to Mubtaahij,, but finished second by 2 1/2 lengths. He has raced this distance or longer three times with two wins and a second. He is a solid second choice and will hope to turn the tables on Mubtaahij.
5. Faithful Creek (50-1 ML) – This Irish bred three year old has only raced on turf in his career in his 7 starts. He broke his maiden in his third start before finishing seventh in the Group 2 Veuve Clicquot Vintage Stakes. He finished second in a listed stakes race before finishing third in the Group 3 John Deere Golden Fleece Juvenile Turf at Leopardstown. His last start was the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf where he made a belated run to finish fifth by 2 1/2 lengths. Having never raced on dirt and his trouble against better horses on turf, he will need a lot to go his way to have a chance.
6. Tap That (20-1 ML) – This three year old son of Tapit has raced only in Japan in his career. He won his first two starts before finishing second in his third start by half a length. His last start was a clunker when he finished sixth by 7 1/2 lengths. He will have to improve from his last start to have a chance here.
7. Golden Barows (4-1 ML) – He is another son of Tapit that has raced solely in Japan. He started on turf with a second place finish by 3 1/2 lengths and was then moved to dirt. He won his first start on dirt by 13 lengths before winning his next two starts as well. He beat Tap That in his latest start, but has only raced at one mile. He certainly has a chance if he gets the distance.
8. My Johnny Be Good (15-1 ML) – This three year old son of Colonel John has raced exclusively in the United States. He was third in his debut before winning his second start by 1 1/4 lengths. After that he was second in an allowance before winning an optional claimer. He was third in the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis and then threw in a huge clunker in the Tampa Bay Derby where he finished eighth by 29 lengths. Given his last performance, it is hard to endorse him in Dubai.
9. Maftool (9-2 ML) – His first two starts were on turf where he was second in his debut before winning his second start. He then finished second the Group 3 Sirenia Stakes over polytrack at Kempton Park and then won the Group 3 Somerville Stakes on turf at Newmarket. A final try on turf resulted in a fifth place finish in the Group 1 Dubai Dewhurst Stakes and he then was sent to Dubai for two races. He was third off the layoff and then won the Group 3 UAE 2000 Guineas by a head over Mubtaahij. He could upset the field here.
10. Dear Domus (12-1 ML) – Another horse who has raced only in Japan prior to this race. He started on turf with an eighth place and tenth place finish. A move to the dirt yielded a five length win and then a fifth place finish by 2 lengths. He won back-to-back starts before a fourth place finish on dirt. His all or nothing resume (7 starts with 3 wins and 4 off the board finishes) makes it hard to endorse him with the other quality horses in this race.
This race appears to be tilted towards the favorites. #1 Mubtaahij clearly excels in Dubai and is the deserving favorite. #9 Maftool is an intriguing horse who could upset the favorites, but has yet to race beyond a mile. #4 Sir Fever certainly fits in this race while the Japanese contingent (#6 Tap That, #7 Golden Barows, and #10 Dear Domus) are wildcards. #3 Alnajem Alfaiz could hit the board at a price.
3. Alnajem Alfaiz
4. Sir Fever
Check back on Saturday for a recap of the Group 2 UAE Derby.