Dubai to Kentucky: A misguided route
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, the world’s most prominent horse owner, proclaimed years ago his determination to win the Kentucky Derby and to do it in his own way. He intended to train his 3-year-olds in Dubai and give them their major prep race in an event he created, the United Arab Emirates Derby. The Dubai-to-Kentucky route has proved to be a total failure for the sheikh as well as for leading Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien, the one other horseman who has tried it. Undaunted, O’Brien will start the colt Lines of Battle at Churchill Downs after winning the $2 million UAE Derby in March. Between 2000 and 2009, the Sheikh sent five horses from Dubai to the Kentucky Derby after they had performed well on the dirt course at Nad al Sheba racetrack, and all of them fared poorly. Most were talented runners, but they were probably at a disadvantage against more seasoned U.S. rivals who had gone through a demanding schedule of prep races in this country. The UAE Derby became even less relevant to the Kentucky Derby when the sheikh built Meydan Racecourse to replace Nad al Sheba, and installed a synthetic surface instead of dirt. Last year the O’Brien-trained Daddy Long Legs won at Meydan and then finished 20th on Churchill Downs’ dirt, a precedent that hardly bodes well for Lines of Battle on Saturday.
|2002||Essence of Dubai||9th|
|2012||Daddy Long Legs||20th|