©2017 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 Florence, Kentucky and the nation of the United Arab Emirates.
At Meydan Racecourse in Dubai, UAE, a field of 16 young Thoroughbreds has been drawn for the 17th running of the $2 million UAE Derby (G2), and Thunder Snow will go to the starting gate as the Twinspires.com 8-5 morning line favorite.
Live television coverage of Dubai World Cup Day can be seen on TVG with the first post at 7:45 a.m. ET. The NBC Sports Network will also have live coverage from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. ET.
Thunder Snow comes into this race with a 3-2-0 record in seven starts for trainer Saeed bin Suroor including a win by 5¾ lengths in the UAE 2000 Guineas. Here’s the video of that race.
Thunder Snow looked impressive but the time of the race was slow and he’s never run farther than a mile so he's an unknown factor at this distance.
Helmet, the sire of Thunder Snow, was a multiple group winner in Australia that compiled a 6-0-4 record in 14 starts. He raced two seasons and also never ran farther than a mile.
As a two year old, Helmet won the Sires’ Produce Stakes (G1) and Champagne Stakes (G1).
As a three year old, Helmet won the Caulfield Guineas Prelude (G3) and the Caulfield Guineas (G1). He finished third in the Run To The Rose Stakes (G3) and the Golden Rose Stakes (G1).
With a B Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® ranking, Thunder Snow should be competitive in this race but he’ll need to pick up the pace in order to secure the win.
Undefeated in four starts, Epicharis (5-1) comes into this race for trainer Kiyoshi Hagiwara as the top qualifier with 50 points in the Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby. Here’s the video of his Derby qualifying race, the one mile Hyacinth Stakes, and here’s the video of his win in the nine-furlong Hokkaido Nisai Yushun.
I like the way Epicharis won with ease in the Hokkaido Nisai Yushun. He appears to be a true route horse that will only get better as the races get longer.
Gold Allure, the sire of Epicharis, was a multiple graded stakes winner in Japan that compiled an 8-1-1 record in 16 starts. As a two year old, he was 1-1-0 in three starts with a fourth-place finish in the Hopeful Stakes.
As a three year old, Gold Allure was 5-0-1 in 10 starts with wins in the Tango Stakes, Japan Dirt Derby (G1), Derby Grand Prix (G1), Japan Cup Dirt (G1), Tokyo Daishoten (G1) and he finished fifth in the Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby).
At the age of four, Gold Allure was 1-1-0 in three starts with wins in the February Stakes (G1) and Antares Stakes (G1).
Epicharis is the Twinspires.com morning line second choice and if he runs true to his previous form he’ll be a tough competitor in the UAE Derby (G2).
A long shot I like is Vettori Kin (50-1) who comes into this race for trainer Ken McPeek with 3-0-1 record in seven starts including a ninth-place finish in his last race, the Carlos Pellegrini (G1) and a win in the Grande Premio Derby Paulista (G1). Here’s the video of his win.
Vettori, the sire of Vettori Kin, was lightly raced and compiled a 2-1-0 record in five starts with his most notable win in French Dubai Poule D’essai Des Poulains (Group 1).
With an A Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® ranking, Vettori Kin is the best bred colt in this race. However, he has yet to fully live up to his breeding and it will be interesting to see if he can step up to win the UAE Derby.
Cosmo Charlie (12-1) comes into this race with a 2-1-0 record in four starts for trainer Doug Watson including a win in the Emirates Skyward Al Bastakiya. Here’s the video of that race.
Cosmo Charlie led from gate to wire setting moderate fractions but I don’t think he will have it that easy in this race.
Stay Thirsty, the sire of Cosmo Charlie, was a multiple graded-stakes winner who compiled a 5-5-1 record in 17 starts with $1,936,000 in career earnings.
In four starts as a two year old, Stay Thirsty compiled a 1-2-0 record with a win in the Hopeful Stakes.
As a three year old, Stay Thirsty compiled a 3-1-1 record in eight starts and his most notable wins were in the Gotham Stakes (G3), Jim Dandy Stakes (G2) and Travers Stakes (G1). He also finished third in the Jockey Club Gold Cup Stakes (G1).
Stay Thirsty was 1-2-0 in five starts as a four year old and his only stakes win was in the Cigar Mile Handicap (G1). He also finished second in the Vanlandingham Stakes and the TVG Jockey Club Gold Cup Invitational Stakes (G1).
Cosmo Charlie has a low Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® ranking, but his index makes him competitive.
Under the points system implemented by Churchill Downs to determine which horses will qualify to enter the Kentucky Derby starting gate, the winner of the UAE Derby (G2) will receive 100 points, the second-place finisher will receive 40 points, the third-place finisher will receive 20 points and the fourth-place finisher will receive 10 points.
Here’s a look at the current top twenty Derby qualifiers:
2017 KENTUCKY DERBY LEADERBOARD
Ranking, total points, Trainer, Non-Restricted Stakes Earnings
1. Gunnevera, 64, Antonio Sano, $1,042,800
2. Tapwrit, 54, Todd Pletcher, $295,570
3. J Boys Echo, 53, Dale Romans, $255,000
4. Malagacy, 50, Todd Pletcher, $540,000
5. Girvin, 50, Joe Sharp, $249,800
6. Practical Joke, 34, Chad Brown, $766,000
7. Untrapped, 34, Steve Asmussen, $210,000
8. Classic Empire, 32, Mark Casse, $1,493,820
9. El Areeb, 30, Cathal Lynch, $330,000
10. Gormley, 20, John Sherriffs, $284,000
11. State of Honor, 22, Mark Casse, $119,564
12. McCraken, 20, Ian Wilkes, $285,048
13. Iliad, 20, Doug O’Neill, $200,000
14. Cloud Computing, 20, Chad Brown, $60,000
15. Wild Shot, 17, Rusty Arnold, II, $132,200
16. Guest Suite, 15, Neil Howard, $144,040
17. Petrov, 13, Ron Moquett, $195,000
18. Lookin At Lee, 12, Steve Asmussen, $328,600
19. Term of Art, 11, Doug O’Neill, $119,000
20. Uncontested, 11, Wayne Catalano, $103,729
x-Not This Time, retired to stud at Taylor Made Farm. Mastery is off the trail with a condylar fracture.
In addition to the current top 20, Churchill Downs has partnered with the Japan Racing Association to feature the Cattleya Sho Stakes and Hayacinth Stakes as two qualifying races in the Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby. The horse with the most points from those races will receive an invitation to compete in the 2017 Kentucky Derby. Here’s the video of the Cattleya Sho Stakes. Here’s the video of the Hayacinth Stakes.
2017 JAPAN ROAD TO KENTUCKY DERBY LEADERBOARD
Ranking, total points, Trainer, Non-Restricted Stakes Earnings
1. Epicharis (JPN), 50, Kiyoshi Hagiwara, $450,374
2. Mont Saint Legame (JPN), 40, Koji Maki, $90,154
3. Adirato (JPN), 20, Naosuke Sugai, $154,951
4. Caucus (JPN), 16, Hideaki Fujiwara, $35,850
5. Foggy Night (JPN), 5, Noriyuki Hori, $23,801