Dubai World Cup
- Dubai World Cup: Animal Kingdom overcomes post 11 
- Dubai Sheema Classic: St Nicholas Abbey takes advantage of perfect trip 
- Dubai Duty Free: Sajjhaa completes rise to the top 
- Golden Shaheen: Reynaldothewizard wins third in row with blinkers 
- Al Quoz Sprint: Shea Shea lives up to expectations; gives de Kock a second win 
COUNTDOWN REWIND: UAE DERBY
By Jeremy Plonk
Date: Saturday, March 30, 2013
Track: Meydan Racecourse
Kentucky Derby Points Awarded: 100-40-20-10
Distance: 1 3/16 miles (2 turns) on Tapeta synthetic surface
HANDICAPPERS’ RECAP: The UAE Derby in Dubai never has been a fruitful path to the Kentucky Derby for international horses, so it was curious to see interest from Americans like Breeders’ Cup Juvenile runner-up HE’S HAD ENOUGH (Doug O’Neill) and El Camino Real Derby victor DICE FLAVOR (Paddy Gallagher). With the carnival’s top horse in the division (Soft Falling Rain) opting to try elders in the Godolphin Mile on the same World Cup Night program, the UAE Derby looked ripe for a shipper. That turned out to be the case as Irish-based LINES OF BATTLE (Aidan O’Brien) stepped to the fore in his first start since a wide-trip seventh in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf last November. The international markets jumped on him, betting the War Front colt down from 10-1 in the morning line to 7-2 closing odds. Gallagher’s optimism sounded light in pre-race interviews and he mentioned that DICE FLAVOR had dehydrated some initially upon his arrival in Dubai.
ON THE CLOCK: The Trakus timing system at Meydan registered splits of 26.97, 25.95, 25.08, 24.38 through the first mile, and a final three-sixteenths in 19.67. The race quickened from a slow pace with each fraction, typical of European racing and a slow-early synthetic route. Comparable times are difficult, but note Dubai World Cup winner Animal Kingdom ran a sixteenth of a mile farther in the World Cup and his final time was only 1.16 seconds slower on the clock. So either the UAE Derby was terribly slow or the World Cup terribly fast, or a combination of both. The UAE Derby had never topped 1:59, much less this 2:02.05 final time in its short history at Meydan, so the lean has to be toward this being a remarkably slow event.
THE EYE TEST: LINES OF BATTLE sat a dream first-over trip in pursuit of stretch-out runner LAW ENFORCEMENT (Richard Hannon). With the slow pace and one target, he had smooth sailing and no excuses. To his credit, when SNOWBOARDER (Mahmoud Al Zarooni) made a pre-mature run at the front, LINES OF BATTLE remained patient and methodically reeled that one in when it mattered. The winner drifted a good deal in and out in the stretch and didn’t visually invoke a great impression. Previously unbeaten SECRET NUMBER (Saeed bin Suroor), making his third lifetime start, missed the break and then slammed on the brakes under the wire the first time running up on heels at the back of the pack. He ran a remarkable race and certainly rates best in this field even in defeat while third. The Americans offered little to embrace.
PROJECTING THE UAE DERBY FORWARD: Trainer Aidan O’Brien said immediately after the UAE Derby that the plan all along was for the Dubai prep and then on to the Kentucky Derby. Last year’s UAE Derby winner Daddy Long Legs for these same connections finished last in the “Run for the Roses,” and if LINES OF BATTLE is to improve on that he’ll need to run better than this. HE’S HAD ENOUGH has not developed at age 3 and would be overmatched in any of the Triple Crown races if his connections get the fever and fields do not oversubscribe.