©2016 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 New Orleans, Louisiana, and the nation of the United Arab Emirates where winners of those 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 seven young Thoroughbreds has been drawn for the 16th running of the $2 million UAE Derby (G2), and the sensational filly, Polar River, will go to the starting gate as the morning line, 3-5 favorite.
The first post for Dubai World Cup Day is 8:40 a.m. EDT and the post for the UAE Derby is 9:35 a.m. You can watch those races at AmWest Entertainment, and here are the past performances with race odds provided by Twinspires.com.
Undefeated in four stats, Polar River comes into this race off of a three-quarter length win in the Emirates UAE Oaks. Here’s the video of that race.
The past performances show that Polar River only won by a slim margin. But, with 300 meters left in the race, Polar River took command to lead by about four lengths and was geared down in the final strides by Jockey Patrick Dobbs to coast across the finish line.
Polar River is a sire-line descendant of the A.P. Indy, Bold Ruler Ancestral Herd and with an A Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® she’s one of the best bred horses in this race.
Congrats, the sire of Polar River, is a full brother to Flatter and he did his best running at 8½ furlongs and farther. His most notable stakes wins were the 7½ furlong Ack Ack Handicap, the Alysheba Stakes and San Pasqual Handicap (G2), both at the 8½ furlongs, and he won 9 furlong San Antonio Handicap (G2). In addition, Congrats finished second in the Santa Anita Handicap (G1) and third in the Hollywood Gold Cup (G1), both at 10 furlongs.
If Polar River runs true to her previous form, she’ll be tough in the Derby.
A long shot I like in this race is Lani (10-1) who’s nominated to the Triple Crown and comes into this race with a 2-1-0 record in five starts for trainer Mikio Matsunaga including a win in the Cattleya Sho Stakes and a fifth-place finish in the one mile Hyacinth Stakes at Tokyo Racecourse. Here’s the video of Hyacinth Stakes.
Despite the fifth-place finish, Lani only lost by 2¾ lengths and the final time of 1:35.40 is what I like to see colts run on the Derby Trail.
Lani has an A+ Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® and, he also is a sire-line descendant of the A.P. Indy, Bold Ruler Ancestral Herd.
Tapit , the sire of Lani, was undefeated in two starts as a 2-year-old including a win in the Laurel Futurity (G3). As a 3-year-old, Tapit was troubled by a lung infection for much of the season but did win the nine-furlong Wood Memorial Stakes (G1) in route to a ninth-place finish in the 2004 Kentucky Derby.
Lani has room to improve in his second start of the season and, with the added distance in this race he could, perhaps, be competitive.
Reddam Racing’s Frank Conversation comes into the UAE Derby with a 3-0-1 record in six starts for trainer Doug O’Neill, including wins in the California Derby and El Camino Real Derby (G3) at Golden Gate Fields. Here’s the video and chart call of the El Camino Real:
FRANK CONVERSATION was allowed to settle for a half mile, rallied three wide on the second turn then pushed to the front in mid-stretch and held under steady urging.
The final time of 1:50.64 is slower than what I like to see a young colt run in nine furlongs and Frank Conversation will need to improve on that going forward. He has a low Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® but his Behavior Index makes him competitive on the trail.
Quality Road, the sire of Frank Conversation, easily won his maiden debut, and only race as a two year old, in November of 2008. In his debut as a three year old, he finished second in an allowance race at Gulfstream Park in January. He followed that in February with a 4¼ length win in the Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) and in March, Quality Road ran to a 1¾ length win over Dunkirk in the Florida Derby (G1).
In late April, Quality Road developed a quarter crack on his right front foot and that prevented him from running in the Kentucky Derby. After a three month break, Quality Road returned to racing to win the Amsterdam Stakes (G2).
Quality Road completed his racing career with wins in the Hal’s Hope Stakes (G3), Donn Handicap (G1), Metropolitan Handicap (G1) and Woodward Stakes (G1). He finished third in the Travers Stakes (G1) and second in both the Jockey Club Gold Cup Stakes (G1) and Whitney Handiciap (G1).
Regular jockey Mario Gutierrez returns to the irons and I look for the pair to run a good race.
This weekend with the running of the Louisiana Derby (G2) and UAE Derby (G2), the winner of those 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. Here’s a look at the current top twenty Derby qualifiers:
2016 KENTUCKY DERBY LEADERBOARD
Rank, Horse, Points, Trainer, Non-Restricted Stakes Earnings
1. Mohaymen, 70, Kiaran McLaughlin, $760,350
2. Destin, 51, Todd Pletcher, $338,000
3. Gun Runner, 51, Steve Asmussen, $249,200
4. Cupid, 50, Bob Baffert, $540,000
5. Danzing Candy, 50, Cliff Sise, Jr., $240,000
6. Shagaf, 50, Chad Brown, $240,000
7. Mor Spirit, 44, Bob Baffert, $416,800
8. Nyquist, 30, Doug O’Neill, $1,700,000
9. Exaggerator, 26, Keith Desormeaux, $1,028,000
10. Whitmore, 24, Ron Moquett, $300,000
11. Sunny Ridge, 23, Jason Servis, $505,600
12. Mo Tom, 22, Tom Amoss $288,326
13. Laoban, 22, Eric Guillot, $92,000
14. Forevamo, 20, All Stall, Jr., $210,000
15. Zulu, 20, Todd Pletcher, $79,200
16. Outwork, 20, Todd Pletcher, $70,000
17. Flexibility, 15, Chad Brown, $232,500
18. Brody’s Cause, 14, Dale Romans, $500,000
19. Greenpointcrusader, 14, Dominick Schettino, $369,30020. Swipe, 12, Keith Desormeaux, $597,130