UAE Derby adds international flair to KY Derby

Matt Bernier
·3 min read

Historically, horses exiting the UAE Derby at Meydan Racecourse in Dubai have not fared well in the Kentucky Derby. Whether it be the quarantine they are forced to deal with when shipping from abroad, the heightened level of competition in Louisville or a combination of the two, talented horses coming from Dubai simply have not performed well the first Saturday in May. Despite this, the UAE Derby is always a fascinating race, as it brings an international field of three-year-olds together with the everlasting hope of spring boarding success at Meydan in late March to success at Churchill Downs in early May.

Most Likely Winner

Classifying any of these horses as the most likely winner is a difficult task for several reasons, but a horse like France Go De Ina (#4, 6/1 morning line odds) from Japan feels like as likely a winner as any set to travel the mile and 3/16ths trip. Despite being based and raced in Japan, France Go De Ina has a true American dirt pedigree, being by 2013 Travers winner Will Take Charge out of a mare by 2007 Breeders’ Cup Classic and 2008 Dubai World Cup winner Curlin. France Go De Ina will be making his first start as a three-year-old in the UAE Derby, so rust could very well be a point of concern; despite this, seeing that top American jockey Joel Rosario is enticed enough to take the mount aboard this horse leads one to believe he has a big chance in this race.

The Value

Soft Whisper (#14, 12/1 ML odds) had done little wrong in her career prior to finishing fifth in a field of 12 in last month’s Saudi Derby behind a few opponents she’ll again tackle in Saturday’s UAE Derby. However, there may have been a reason for her fading as badly as she did during the latter stages of last month’s race. After seeing the entirety of the card in Saudi Arabia, it appeared as though horses who were positioned on the inside of the track toward the rail were at a great disadvantage, as the rail could have been interpreted as being “dead” or “bad”; put another way, the inside was not where you wanted to be racing as it would have compromised one’s chances. One of two females running in this year’s UAE Derby, Soft Whisper has proven herself at Meydan in the past and any runners owned and bred by Godolphin should not be taken lightly on Dubai World Cup night.

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The Longshot

Speight’spercomete (#11, 15/1 ML odds) is winless in four lifetime starts, but he possesses an American pedigree that would suggest additional ground should only work to his advantage. Given the late energy he displayed in his most recent start at Meydan against common foes Panadol and El Patriota, Speight’spercomete feels like a horse who could be dangerous in Saturday’s race at an overlaid price, simply because he has never won before. If jockey Patrick Dobbs can save some ground, which he should be able to given the inside draw (program numbers do not correspond to post positions for this race), Speight’spercomete could surprise at a price.

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