04/16/2015 2:35PM

Mubtaahij begins long journey to Kentucky Derby

Dubai Racing Club/Neville Hopwood
Mubtaahij wins the United Arab Emirates Derby at Meydan Racecourse in Dubai.

Thursday morning might have marked one of the most international moments in Kentucky Derby history.

Trainer Mike de Kock was reached by phone at home in South Africa, the good 3-year-old he trains, Mubtaahij, having left Dubai earlier in the day en route – and it is a circuitous route – to Louisville.

“I think he’s somewhere over Iraq about now,” de Kock speculated, having just watched another talented 3-year-old he trains, Tannaaf, run well in a rich stakes at Newmarket in England.

Mubtaahij was a flashy eight-length winner of the United Arab Emirates Derby at Meydan in his most recent start, running his record in dirt races to 4 for 5 and convincing his connections, de Kock and owner Mohammed bin Khalifa al Maktoum, to put the 100 Kentucky Derby qualifying points he earned in the race to good use and head to Kentucky.

De Kock long ago established his international credentials. He has shipped horses around the globe and won big races. But the itinerary presented to him for Mubtaahij’s date at the Derby gave even de Kock pause.

“You don’t give it much thought at first,” de Kock said. “You think of going to the race, and then later, you start thinking about how you get there.”

:: ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY: Prep races, point standings, replays

Here’s how it works for Mubtaahij: The flight de Kock referenced Thursday was bound for Amsterdam. There, Mubtaahij will change planes and fly to Chicago, take a short van ride from O’Hare Airport to Arlington, and spend two days there in the USDA-certified quarantine facility. De Kock said he might keep Mubtaahij at Arlington an extra day or two, but one way or another, he then will travel by van to the Skylight training center in Goshen, Ky., and be based there until the Tuesday before the Derby, when de Kock will send him on to Churchill Downs.

Because of international shipping regulations, Mubtaahij’s regular groom wasn’t permitted to travel with him. De Kock’s assistant, Trevor Brown, and an exercise rider will be awaiting the colt’s arrival in Chicago. De Kock wanted to send his special feed mix along, but that also was forbidden.

It’s a lot to ask of a horse, and de Kock wouldn’t try it with just any colt.

“I wouldn’t do it if he didn’t have the temperament for it,” said de Kock. “He can get very fresh, but he’s a horse that’s not stupid. He’s very sensible.”

Mubtaahij is going to Skylight to train on the Polytrack surface there, keeping some degree of continuity with his training in Dubai, which has all been done over a Tapeta training track. The day before he left, Mubtaahij worked seven furlongs after a warm-up canter, and knowing Mubtaahij would spend the next five or six days doing nothing more strenuous than walking, de Kock said he put a fairly stiff work into a colt already fit after a busy winter of racing.

Mubtaahij might or might not prove good enough for what looks like a Derby field well above average, but for him, just getting there is half the battle.

Nick DAgostino More than 1 year ago
Mubtaahij didn't look so hot when he got off the plane to the states and at the last minute connections decided to call a last minute change in training because he looked "tucked up". They did not want to van him over to KY quite yet for another 8 hour trek and decided to hold still where they were. After being on the ground for 2 days he has picked up his eating, and drinking and gained back any weight that was lost during the trip and then a few pounds! The breeze was great and they were happy with it as he was in the bridle and shoeless. Turned down the last 200 meters in 11.9. It has been noted that he has been jumping out of his skin to get on the track. A more serious jog on Saturday coming as a final tune up.
Bud Pettingill More than 1 year ago
In the 130+ year history of the Derby, only one horse has entered the starting gate after running beyond 1/1/8th miles more than once; his name was Canonero II; and who thought he had any chance of winning? Mubtaahij will be the 2nd!
tommy More than 1 year ago
I wouldn't be surprised if mubtaahij wins the triple crown!!!!!
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tommy More than 1 year ago
You are wrong!!!!! The best colt always wins the kentucky derby!!!!! This year we have 4 horses who are the best!!!!!! That's why in order to catch the trifecta you need to put those 4 horses on top with a bunch underneath!!! Please bet Dortmund for me because he's a very slow big horse!!! I need to collect so I need as many losers as possible to take a larger percentage of the pool!!! I wouldn't be surprised if I take the whole pool!!!
tommy . More than 1 year ago
This is how I will play the derby!!!! Watch, listen, learn!!!!! The highest VO2 Max and Lactate is by far American Pharoah!!!! He won't finish in the top 10...you heard it here 1st.!!!! Thanks Bob!!
tommy . More than 1 year ago
I will play all for 1st because this is the derby!!! mubtaahij, Dortmund and Carpe Diem 2nd then All and All. It's out of your price range I know as you don't make what I make nor live in a million dollar home like I do but it will make a lot of money!!!! Can't lose!!!! My solid 5 star bet of the year!!!!!!
r More than 1 year ago
hey tommy...you sound like a real loser...anyone who brags about money and houses is for sure a loser and a dreamer wanna be. Now go back to your 10 cent superfecta losing ways...
Bob More than 1 year ago
They might as well leave him in Dubai because he won't beat Baffert's horses.
Maynard Runkle More than 1 year ago
Both Arazi and Vale of York came from overseas to win the Breeders Cup Juvenile. If they could do that there is no reason why Mubtaahij could not win. His biggest challenge is that he is facing such a tough group this year. But the Derby emphasises stamina. It takes a special horse to go that extra distance and Mubtaahij has already won twice with only 1/16th more to go. How does a horse get stamina? It is a combination of nature and nurture. It needs to have both the genes and the training. We know that some of the candidates do NOT have distance breeding. We know some of them have had only one 1 1/8th race and have/or not faced top competition. Yet someof those will be highly bet favorites. Do your homework and figure out which are underlays and by excluding them from the win position you could have a good result. But, put them in underneath as they may have enough to get a placing, second third or fourth. "May the horse be with you!" Harvey Pack
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tommy More than 1 year ago
Well then, I guess it's time to make history .... Mubtaahij!!!!
tommy More than 1 year ago
Hi Maynard !! I did my vo2 calculation and mubtaahij is equal to orb, when they ran the same time comparing the Preakness to Dubai derby !! The past winners of the Preakness ran between 1:54 - 1:55 , and mubtaahij did it at 1:58 with a hand ride and did not make out, meaning he could have finished Dubai derby in 1:54 if needed to!!!
peter jaworski More than 1 year ago
Don't know about you, but whenever I have a long journey ahead of me, I always bring a 'special feed mix' with me just in case my 'special feed mix' is not available at my destination. Must be a very 'special' mix. I generally pour mine into a flask- just in case it is forbidden at my final destination. This guy would fit right in training at any number of local racetracks.
Nick DAgostino More than 1 year ago
Peter, the "special" feed mix is a combinations of ingredients that Mike DeCock has developed himself, and in fact sells it to others in the industry overseas. Has its own branding and packaging and is legit. Everyone that has used this feed has noticed dramatic improvements in their horses stamina and overall performance. So much so that they are dumbfounded as to how it produces such results. It's not regulated by the FDA so he wasn't able to bring it. FYI
Dahorsecapper More than 1 year ago
No Lasix for him.
tommy More than 1 year ago
I wouldn't be surprised if mubtaahij is the favor !!!! I actually want him to be the favor!!! I hope the right people in Dubai bet millions to win and on exactas !!! It's a shame that these people have $100 trillion dollars and us Americans are stuck with pennies!! Even if I sell my million dollar house, it won't compare to their $100 trillion dollars in their banks!!! Not even the top 5 paid movie stars have that kind of money!!!!!
Allan Gauthier More than 1 year ago
Please go away
John Murray More than 1 year ago
Perhaps you are unaware that gambling is not allowed for Moslem faithful in Arab countries, despite what stereotypes we may harbour.
tommy More than 1 year ago
Muslems don't follow the rules!! They have many wives, they disrespect there god Allah, and they are heavy gambles!!!!!!! O and by the way, I used to study all the religions and they are the same!!! Allah is aka Jehovah, and Jesus is his son!!!!! The Jews think highly of Jesus!! They say in Jerusalem , this is where Jesus walked!!!!!
Nick DAgostino More than 1 year ago
I have to admit you are a little long in the tooth.
Dale Normanson More than 1 year ago
Your schtick has now hit an all time low.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Oh Tommy U are soooo rich I want u to know that I belave you
Meydan Rocks More than 1 year ago
peter jaworski More than 1 year ago
I also hope he is the right flavor- 'plain vanilla'- which will describe his impact on the Derby result!
Scott Kromer More than 1 year ago
based on internal fractions alone, he proved he can hang with this group of 3 year olds, don't know if he has enough to get more than third though. his preference is probably the 13-20 post position range to not get bottled and eliminate his run
tommy More than 1 year ago
What will be mubtaahij odds ?? 8-1 range ??? That's what he went off in the futures!!! Everyone knows mubtaahij and the Arabs are richer than us Americans , Will be millions on win and exactas !!!!! These Arab guys in Dubai have $100 trillion dollars!!!
Nick DAgostino More than 1 year ago
I say he goes off at better than 17-1.