02/17/2011 4:23PM

Derbaas hangs on in Al Fahidi Fort at Meydan


Derbaas held off the late challenge of Raihana to win the Group 2, $250,000 Al Fahidi Fort on Thursday night at Meydan, where Calvin Borel leads the Meydan Masters jockey challenge after the first two legs of the four-race series.

Ridden by Richard Hills, Derbaas tracked the pace of Silverside in the Al Fahidi Fort. Derbaas ranged up alongside the leader approaching the quarter-pole and went briefly clear nearing the furlong marker before Christophe Soumillon got the filly Raihana in gear. Although Raihana was narrowing the gap at the line, Derbaas held on by a half-length, finishing a mile on good ground in 1:37.82. It was 1 1/4 lengths back to Le Drakkar in third, with Hearts of Fire another neck back in fourth. The second filly in the field, Thai Haku, faded to fifth, beaten 5 1/4 lengths.

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Trained by Ali Rashid Al Raihe for Hamdan Al Maktoum, Derbaas has won four in a row, winning twice on Meydan’s Tapeta track and once on turf, all of those one-mile handicaps. The Dubai Duty Free is his ultimate goal this winter, but he could reappear on World Cup Preview Night, March 3, in the Group 2 Jebel Hatta.

Borel, the lone American in a field of 12 top-class international riders, leads the Meydan Masters jockey challenge after the first two legs of the four-race series. Borel timed his ride perfectly to win Leg 1 of the competition aboard the Al Raihe-trained Haatheq. Breaking alertly, Haatheq was taken back to 11th. He began making up steady ground halfway through the $110,000 Tapeta mile and found himself within striking distance of the leaders approaching the eighth-pole despite racing widest of all. Left-handed encouragement from Borel resulted in a one-length victory over Kavango. The winning time was 1:38.23.

Leg 2, a 1 3/8-mile Tapeta handicap valued at $150,000, went to Ryan Moore aboard Godolphin’s Emirates Champion. Borel’s mount, Royaaty, missed the break and trailed most of the way before making a late run into fourth. After Day 1 of the competition, Borel held an 85-76 lead over Moore.

Weight stopped J J The Jet Plane in a six-furlong Tapeta handicap worth $150,000. The world’s highest rated sprinter, spotting 11 rivals 14 to 20 pounds, tracked the pace in third before backing up to finish 11th, eight lengths behind the victorious Green Beret.