Godolphin's Gold Town looks to land the UAE Derby en route to Kentucky
Kentucky Derby qualifying points are up for grabs in the Group 2 UAE Derby, in which Godolphin’s Gold Town will seek to follow up his emphatic victory in the UAE 2,000 Guineas for Charlie Appleby and William Buick. If all goes to plan, the Kentucky Derby is his aim looking forward.
This looks a lot tougher, though, with Watson’s UAE Oaks heroine Rayya, ideally drawn in one, looking to emulate Khawlah who won both the extended 1m1f dirt Classics in 2011. She also has Kentucky on her agenda and joins Bob Baffert after this for a crack at the Kentucky Oaks.
However, most attention this week has been focused on the Aidan O’Brien trio of Mendelssohn, Threeandfourpence and Seahenge, who finished in that order in the Listed Patton Stakes on the Dundalk all-weather three weeks ago.
O’Brien said: “We haven't done a lot with Mendelssohn since his Listed win at Dundalk early this month but we're happy with him. This is a big race in its own right and we'll see how he handles the dirt and the step up in trip before deciding whether he'll go to America.
"Threeandfourpence ran a nice race when second to Mendelssohn at Dundalk and should have come forward, while Seahenge was third after being slowly away. We've jumped out of the stalls a few times since."
Watson aims for Godolphin Mile glory
Saeed Bin Suroor saddled the first four winners of the Group 2 Godolphin Mile and this year UAE Champion trainer, Doug Watson, will be hoping to become the second trainer to provide more than two consecutive winners when saddling four runners in the dirt contest.
Stable jockey Pat Dobbs won the race last year on Second Summer who will bid to emulate Firebreak, the only previous dual winner, but will be ridden by Sam Hitchcott with Dobbs preferring Kimbear.
Hitchcott was aboard Watson’s 2016 winner, One Man Band, who led home a stable 1-2-3 in the race.
Jim Crowley, riding for his boss Sheikh Hamdan, is aboard Muntazah with Dane O’Neill taking the ride on Shamaal Nibras.
“All four deserve their slot and it's great to have them in there," said Watson. “We've kept Kimbear nice and fresh since Super Saturday and he's bouncing, so it's easy to see why Pat chose him.
"There's going to be plenty of early pace which will, hopefully, play to Second Summer’s strength. Obviously, it would be great to win the race again but it'll not be easy.”
Seemingly heading the dangers are seven-time course-and-distance winner, Heavy Metal, second to Kimbear three weeks ago when unable to get to the lead.
Normal jockey Mickael Barzalona is required for Godolphin’s dirt debutante Rosa Imperial, trained by Andre Fabre, so rookie trainer Sadeep Jadhav has booked Ryan Moore.
A former employee of Watson’s, Jadhav takes over the string of the suspended Salem bin Ghadayer and also saddles Capezzano, the mount of Mike Smith.
Crunch time as Biscuits back for more
Only eight contest the Group 1 Dubai Golden Shaheen with last year’s winner of the dirt dash, Mind Your Biscuits, defending his crown as part of a very strong US challenge.
However, Chad Summers’ sprinter is only third favourite, behind compatriots Roy H, winner of last year’s Breeders’ Cup Sprint for Peter Miller and the Jorge Navarro-trained X Y Jet, runner-up in this in 2016.
Reynaldothewizard, the 2013 victor when a first Group 1-winner for both Richard Mullen and Satish Seemar, is back again at the grand old age of 12. Were he victorious, he would become the oldest ever Group 1 winner.
Jordan Sport smashed the track record when winning the course and distance Group 3 Mahab Al Shimaal on Super Saturday.
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