LAST week’s UAE2000 Guineas Trial winner, Mubtaahij (IRE), has been added to a host of early entries for the 2015 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs, USA.
Mike de Kock and owner Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum decided to put Mubtaahij’s name forward last Saturday, the deadline day for owners and trainers of promising three-year-olds who wish to make their horses eligible for the coveted races of the 2015 US Triple Crown series.
Mubtaahij (Dane O’Neill) on his way to a five-length win in last Thursday’s UAE2000 Guineas Trial at Meydan. (Andrew Watkins).
The 141st Kentucky Derby ($2-million guaranteed) presented by Yum! Brands (Gr 1) will be staged over 2000m on Saturday, 2 May. A tiered point system in select races will determine the 20 runners who will qualify for America’s greatest race. The 2014-2015 “Road to the Kentucky Derby” series comprise 35 races in total.
The series includes 16 significant events that comprise the “Kentucky Derby Championship Series” which takes place over the 10 weeks that precede the first Saturday in May. A sliding scale of points will be awarded to the Top 4 finishers in each of the 35 races, to determine preference for the 20-horse Kentucky Derby field.
As it happens, the Gr2 UAE Derby at Meydan on World Cup Night, 28 March 2015, (*and Canada’s Grey Stakes) are the only qualifying races outside the US. Mubtaahij has been identified as a strong prospect. It is the richest race of its kind alongside the Kentucky Derby itself and is contested over 1800m on dirt.
Mike commented: “Mubtaahij has shown enough promise to be considered a good UAE Derby candidate. On the strength of that and considering the entry deadline we decided to put his name down. This is one of the greatest races in the world. It’s a dream for all us, a first venture and we’ll see how things unfold.
“Mubtaahij will have to step up to the plate. We’ll have to test him against the strongest in Dubai to see if he has the mettle to compete in a race like the Kentucky Derby but racing is made of dreams and we’ve done our initial bit to make the journey possible. Mubtaahij will probably have to win the UAE Derby to have a good chance of securing a run.”
Several of racing history’s most illustrious names appear on the Kentucky Derby honour roll, including the great sire-of-sires Northern Dancer (1964), Secretariat (1973), Seattle Slew (1977), Sunday Silence (1989), Unbridled (1990), Fusaichi Pegasus (2000) and Barbaro (2006).