©2015 Calvin L. Carter. All rights reserved.
This Saturday, we’ll log a lot of miles on the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” which will take us to Florida, Louisiana and the nation of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) where the winners of those three races will each receive 100 qualifying points and a guaranteed spot in Derby starting gate on the first Saturday in May.
At Meydan Racecourse in Dubai, UAE, a field of 10 young Thoroughbreds has been drawn for the 15th running of the $2 million UAE Derby (G2), and South African trainer Michael de Kock will send Mubtaahij, winner of the 9½ furlong Al Bastakiya, to the starting gate as the 5-2 morning-line favorite.
In six starts, Mubtaahij has compiled 3-1-0 record and in the Al Bastakiya he was a 2½-length victor, defeating the Uruguayan Triple Crown Champion, Sir Fever (3-1), who is also entered in this race. Here’s the video of the Al Bastakiya.
Mubtaahij tracked the leaders, Ajwad and Sir Fever, for most of the race, until taking over in the stretch to head Sir Fever and get up for the win. At one point in the stretch, it looked like Sir Fever may have been impeded by Mubtaahij, but it was impossible to tell if that deprived him of the win.
I look for Mubtaahij to run another good race in the UAE Derby (G2).
Sir Fever will be making just his second start this year and he also appears tough in this race. Going into the Al Bastakiya, Sir Fever had not raced in four months and, despite the layoff, he ran a very good race.
Prior to his defeat, Sir Fever was undefeated in nine starts including a nine-length blowout in the one mile Gran Premio Polla De Potrillos (G1), the first jewel in the Uruguay Triple Crown, in the blistering fast time 1:34.20. Here’s the video of that race.
He followed that victory with a four-length win in the 10-furlong Gran Premio Jockey Club (G1), capturing the second jewel in a time of 2:02.82. Here’s the video of that race.
Last November, Sir Fever won the final jewel with a 5½-length victory in the 12½ furlong Gran Premio Nacional (G1). Here’s the video of that race.
Sir Fever has room to improve in just his second start of the season and I look for him to run a good race.
A long shot I like is Alnajem Alfaiz (20-1) who comes into this race for trainer Al Shaibani Bader with a 3-0-1 record in four stakes races, including a three-length win in the National Guard Cup (G3) and a four-length win in the King Abdulaziz Cup (G1).
All of his previous races have been at a mile and two of them were run in the time zone of 1:36 and change which is what I like to see in a young three year old. If he can carry that speed over a further route of ground, I look for Alnajem Alfaiz to be competitive.
Maftool (9-2) comes into this race with a 3-2-1 record in seven starts for trainer Saeed bin Soor including wins in the group three Al Tayer Motors UAE 2000 Guineas and the Tattersalls Sommerville Stakes. In the Guineas, Maftool barely defeated Mubtaahij by a head. Here’s the video of that race.
I don’t look for Maftool to win this race, but he could be a factor in the exotics.
Post time of the UAE Derby is 9:55 a.m. ET and you can watch the race at Dubai Racing online here. Television coverage of the Derby can be seen Saturday on TVG from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. ET and on Fox Sports1 at 12:30 p.m. ET.
This weekend with the running of the Florida Derby (G1), Louisiana Derby (G2) and UAE Derby (G2), the winner of these races will receive 100 points, second-place finishers will receive 40 points, third-place finishers will get 20 points and fourth-place finishers will get 10 points.
Calculator, ranked 5th in the January 24 Kentucky Derby point standings, is sidelined with an injury for six months and he’s off the Derby trail. Leave the Light On, ranked 13th, is also off the trail. Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Texas Red had returned to training but was recently taken off of the Derby Trail due to a lingering issue with a foot abscess.
Here’s a look at the current top twenty Derby qualifiers
2015 KENTUCKY DERBY LEADERBOARD
Individual Leaders ranking, total points, Trainer, Non-Restricted Stakes Earnings
1. El Kabeir, 75, John Terranova II, $620,792
2. International Star, 71, Mike Maker, $490,979
3. Dortmund, 70, Bob Baffert, $630,000
4. Carpe Diem, 64, Todd Pletcher, $870,000
5. American Pharoah, 60, Bob Baffert, $810,000
6. Firing Line, 58, Simon Callaghan, $530,000
7. *Dubai Sky, 50, Bill Mott, $371,780
8. Itsaknockout, 50, Todd Pletcher, $240,500
9. Upstart, 36, Rick Violette Jr., $615,680
10. Conquest Typhoon, 26, Mark Casse, $430,827
11. War Story, 24, Tom Amoss, $120,000
12. Far Right, 22, Ron Moquett, $385,906
13. Madefromlucky, 20, Todd Pletcher, $150,000
14. Ami’s Flatter, 20, Josie Carroll, $99,200
15. Prospect Park, 20, Cliff Sise, Jr., $80,000
16. *Tiz Shea D, 20, Bill Mott, $80,000
17. Bold Conquest, 17, Steve Asmussen, $162,176
18. Mr. Z, 14, D. Wayne Lukas, $518,326
19. Frosted, 13, Kiaran McLaughlin, $176,200
20. Classy Class, 13, Kiaran McLaughlin, $85,000
* Late nominations to the Kentucky Derby.