03/28/2009 12:00AM

Regal Ransom surprises in UAE Derby


DUBAI, United Arab Emirates You could look at the $2 million UAE Derby one of two ways: Godolphin either gained a second hope for the Triple Crown, or saw their main prospect for the American Classics take a backward step. In any case, heavily favored Desert Party went down to defeat Saturday night at Nad Al Sheba, losing by a half-length to stablemate Regal Ransom, a horse Desert Party had beaten by almost six lengths when they last met on Feb. 12.

Regal Ransom led from start to finish after breaking from the fence under Alan Garcia, the second front-end winner of the night. A Distorted Humor colt, he began his career last year at Saratoga for Kiaran McLaughlin, winning a maiden race there before running poorly in the Norfolk Stakes at Santa Anita. Regal Ransom had come within a half-length of Desert Party in January, but was soundly beaten over a mile in the UAE 2000 Guineas here last month.

It was surprising to us, said Godolphin racing manager Simon Crisford. We thought Desert Party would beat him again.

Racing in mid-pack, Desert Party seemed to travel comfortably around the far turn, and jockey Frankie Dettori rode confidently into the stretch as Desert Party gradually picked off horses in front of him. But when he asked Desert Party to go and get Regal Ransom, the response was tepid: Desert Party gradually closed, but never really kicked in.

He ran flat, Dettori said.

The top two were much the best; it was more than 15 lengths to third-place Soy Libriano. Regal Ransom was timed in 1:50 for the 1,800 meters.

Crisford said both horses would be shipped to Kentucky early next month.

Regal Ransom returned $28.20. The exacta with Desert Party paid $41.20.