“THOSE were some bloody good horses ahead of him,” commented Mike de Kock after his first Kentucky Derby runner, Mubtaahij, was beaten 9,25-lengths into eighth place by the 3-1 favourite American Pharoah, who remained undefeated after five starts with a stunning victory over Firing Line and Dortmund.
Mubtaahij had the run of the rail for most of the race – he suffered some kickback from the runners ahead of him, but appeared to have every chance as the field approached the home bend.
American Pharoah (nearest camera), Firing Line and Dortmund: Merciless galloping.
However, as South African racing fans would have seen a number of times in the Dubai features, the US-bred sand specialists gallop on like there’s no tomorrow! Relentless is not the word and indeed the first three past the post were the same three that held the lead between them almost throughout this 141st renewal of the “Run For The Roses”.
American Pharoah, Firing Line and Dortmund were at each other early, they were the front three in the back stretch and the first three into the home run. Mubtaahij kicked at the top of the straight and got a little closer, but he was never going to get within striking distance and over the last 100m became a little one-paced.
Into the first bend: Mubtaahij is on the far left, railside. He suffered some kickback in a gruelling race; couldn’t get in touch with the pacesetters.
Mubtaahij wasn’t near disgraced in a line-up of top quality classic horses in America’s greatest race for three-year-olds. He made his connections and legion of fans proud and has written a piece of history in breaking the ice for a progressive and forward-thinking stable who’d sent him halfway around the world to compete in front of 170 513 racegoers – the biggest crowd ever assembled at Churchill Downs. This was Mike de Kock’s first Derby runner and it’s unlikely to have been his last.
Early feedback from Kentucky is that Mubtaahij will be shipped to the UK shortly and Mike said after the race that his preparation over the next several months will be focused on the 2016 World Cup. Chances are his form from the Kentucky Derby will stand up well anywhere else in the world.
We will publish more detailed comments as soon as they become available.
Photos from www.kentuckyderby.com