Wins by 18 1 /2 Lengths
By Dick Downey
Photo by Meydan Racecourse
Mendelssohn, a $3 million yearling purchase, looked the part winning the $2 million UAE Derby by 18 1/2 lengths while setting a new track record for the 1 3/16-mile distance.
The race tempo was set by Mendelssohn and Ryan Moore, who went straight for the lead from post 4 when the gates opened. The filly Rayya also showed early speed after breaking from post 1, and she held her place on the rail as those two ran into the first turn, but soon Mendelssohn was on the lead.
The Aiden O'Brien trainee was pursued most closely by Rayya, Yulong Warrior and Gold Town (GB) up the backstretch, but Mendelssohn began opening up on the field in the far turn. From there, he steadily increased his margin and distanced the field in the stretch with a final time of 1:55.18. That's 1.33 seconds better than the old record.
Rayya stayed on for second, followed another three lengths by Reride, who was mid-pack in the early going, in third. Gold Town, who set the pace winning the UAE 2000 Guineas in February, never contested the lead today and finished fourth, beaten 23 1/4 lengths. The remaining order of finish was Seahenge, Taiki Ferveur (JPN), Yulong Warrior, Ruggero (JPN) and Threeandfourpence.
Mendelssohn was sent off as the 9-5 favorite in the U. S. and paid $5.60 to win, $4.00 to place and $2.40 to show. Rayya returned $11.60 to place and $4.60 to show, and Reride was worth $3.80 to show. Mendelssohn's final odds in the three Kentucky Derby Future Pools held so far are 31-1 in Pool 1; 44-1 in Pool 2; and 28-1 in Pool 3. Pool 4 is next weekend.
The UAE Derby is the richest Kentucky Derby points race and was worth $1.2 million to winning owners Derrick Smith, Mrs. John Magnier and Michael Tabor. Bred in Kentucky by Clarkland Farm and sold by the farm to current ownership at the Keeneland September 2016 yearling sale, the half-brother of champion Beholder is a son of the late Scat Daddy out of Leslie's Lady, by Tricky Creek.
Today's race at Meydan Racecourse was Mendelssohn's first on dirt but his third win on three different surfaces and fourth overall. Last November, he capped off his freshman year by winning the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf at Del Mar. After a layoff, he captured the Patton Stakes on synthetic track at Dundalk in Ireland 22 days ago. O'Brien said immediately after the Breeders' Cup Juvenile that Mendelssohn would be pointed to the Kentucky Derby.
The result means 100 Kentucky Derby points to Mendelssohn, who likely will be the only horse from the UAE Derby to run for the roses. If plans are executed, Rayya will be sent to the barn of Bob Baffert to be prepared for the Kentucky Oaks; she's not nominated to the Triple Crown. Reride earned 20 Kentucky Derby points, and 10 went to Gold Town.
Emirates Racing chart - click race 4
Aiden O'Brien press conference
Aiden O'Brien on plans for the Kentucky Derby: "What we usually do is fly in as close as we can, and if everything goes well we'll see how he is after, and that's hopefully what we'll do if the lads agree to it."
Aiden O'Brien (more): "What we usually do is fly in as close as we can, and if everything goes well we'll see how he is after, and that's hopefully what we'll do if the lads agree to it. We are over the moon. He came forward lovely from his run at Dundalk a few weeks ago. He is bred to handle the dirt, being by Scat Daddy. But that was an unbelievable performance. We weren’t sure how he would handle the distance, but you have to say he saw it out pretty well. He is naturally quick and has a lot of tactical early speed. He did it the hard way but he did it so easily. He is very well bred, he has a great physique and you can see why he cost the lads a lot of money at the sales. We will look forward to going to Kentucky with him now. He is a terrific horse, really very exciting. "
Ryan Moore: He's a high-class horse, a Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf winner, and now he’s done it here. You’d have to go a long way to see a better performance than that. He’s a horse with a lot of speed, he still feels like there’s more physical improvement in him, there’s more strengthening to come, he’s going to get better. He’s grown up a lot, but he’s still learning and he’s trained by a genius. He’s got a beautiful pedigree, he’s got the form, he races forward and there’s plenty of experience now. But that's a different thing, a hard race with more runners, you can't compare it to today.”
MV Magnier, representing the owners: "To win by nearly 20 lengths in track record time is something that nobody could imagine."
Jockey Patrick Dobbs, Rayya: “She travelled around super in behind the leader. I saw William (Buick, Gold Town) was struggling halfway round the bend, and I thought there might be a chance of getting second. She stuck to her guns well as she got very tired up the straight, but she's very honest.”
Javier Castellano, Reride: “He ran a good race. He couldn’t go the pace early, but he was going on at the finish. I was happy with him.”
Owner Ron Winchell, Reride: “It could have been better, but it could have been worse.”
Jockey Donnacha O’Brien (Seahenge, 5th): “Listen, he was just slow into stride but kept galloping well down the straight.”
Trainer Mitsunori Makiura (Taiki Ferveur, 6th): “The pace was pretty fast, but he tried his best.”
Jockey Joao Moreira (Taiki Ferveur, 6th): “He’s not very fast out of the gate. I was told about it. And that’s pretty much how he was. I just allowed him to find his own rhythm, unfortunately, even if I pull him on the outside to give him a clear run and go away from the kick back, he wasn’t able to keep on responding. He was beaten at 800 meters.”
Jockey Richard Mullen (Yulong Warrior, 7th): I didn’t have the best gate in seven. We tried to get up there and try to get as close a position as we could. I followed Mendelssohn down the back and he just extended away from us. He probably sickened my horse just my horse a little bit because he couldn’t go with him and in the end, he took the turn around the bend and other horses came around and swept by him. He’s better than that, but still a baby. He kind of got discouraged by racing against a man today.”
Trainer Yuichi Shikato (Ruggero, 8th): “He was totally beaten today. The field was strong. I will try my best to make him come back here.”
Jockey Christophe Lemaire (Ruggero, 8th): “He did not start off from the gate well and did not go faster. I think he has not yet got used to the surface. He did not run his race. It was a high-level race.”