MUBTAAHIJ booked his place in the 2015 Kentucky Derby with a runaway win in the $USD2-million UAE Derby over 1900m on dirt at Meydan on Saturday.
Breaking from the rail post in the field of nine, Mubtaahij raced in fourth, just behind a wall of front runners into the final turn.
He took over effortlessly at the top of the stretch an increased his margin of victory to the wire under hands and heels. The timer stopped in 1:58.35 on fast dirt and the official winning distance was eight lengths.
“I was just behind the leaders and the pace was good, so I followed it into the straight, said jockey Christophe Soumillon, who was riding Mubtaahij for the first time.
“I was going very easily and as soon as I pressed the button it was all over. In the end, I kept some energy for the future, especially if he goes to the Kentucky Derby.”
Soumillon wrapped himself in the South African flag on his way to the winner’s enclosure and said: “It was as easy as it looked. He was a bit unsettled at the start, but after the jump he travelled beautifully and kicked well. I could see the gap opening up on the big screen.”
Mike de Kock commented: “Mubtaahij has a high cruising speed and can turn it on off that speed. This is why he did it so easily tonight. We are delighted!”
“Those are the attributes you need to win the Kentucky Derby,” commented Marcus Hersh of the influential Daily Racing Form, one of several supportive US-based correspondents who are excited at the prospect of seeing Mubtaahij take on America’s best in one of the greatest races of them all, the qualifying UAE Derby now having set the stage.
Mike said: “Right now we’re not too sure what the next step would be, we’ll know more by Monday, but yes, the plan remains to go to the US and we’re more excited than ever.”
He added about Mubtaahij: “He’s tough and sound, he’s Rocky (the legendary movie boxing champion). He’s never slept in a stable in the main barn. He is is prone to respiratory infections and is stabled outside where he enjoys more fresh air and that keeps him happy.”
Hersh said that Mubtaahij would automatically move up the Derby log and that all Mike and will have to do is “show up”: “Mubtaahij was impressive, he qualifies for Kentucky, we’re hoping he pulls up well so we can see him in the States, but he didn’t seem to have a hard race at all.”f
Said Pat Cummings of Dubai Race Night: “A number of Americans who came here this week said the Dubai dirt track reminded them of the track at Churchill Downs, so there are relative comparisons to be drawn. Mubtaahij should have no problem with the sand in the Kentucky Derby.”
Mubtaahij is owned by Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum. He’s by Dubawi (IRE) from Pennekamp and banked $US1,2-million with his spectacular victory.
Photo by Neville Hopwood.