According to his new trainer, Sweet Ducky, purchased recently by Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov, could use the $2 million, Group 2 UAE Derby as a prep for the Kentucky Derby five weeks later, depending how he handles his assignment Saturday.
The son of Pulpit is handling the new environment and All-Weather surface at Meydan well but still is “babyish and immature,” according to new trainer Herman Brown, who would like to rest the colt after the UAE Derby and let him grow.
However, Brown said Monday that if Sweet Ducky runs well in the UAE Derby, the lure of the Kentucky Derby on May 7 at Churchill Downs might be difficult to resist. Since the UAE Derby purse is so large, Sweet Ducky theoretically could earn enough with a good performance to make the Kentucky Derby field.
“Obviously, it would be a temptation,” Brown said. “I don’t know that it would be the right thing to do, but it will be up to the owner to decide.”
So far, Sweet Ducky “seems to have traveled well and he’s eating and drinking well,” Brown said after watching the colt gallop under English-based jockey Tom Queally, who has been named to ride in the UAE Derby. “He’s tall and leggy, and with maturity he could be a really good horse.”
Brown plans to send Sweet Ducky out on Tuesday for “an 800 meter (about four furlongs) burst” of speed to sharpen him for the race.
“We’re just learning as we go along with him, as he just arrived here last week. We’ll see more tomorrow,” Brown said. “I basically just want to help the horse keep doing well and take our chances that way rather than stressing him.”
Brown said that he will consider it a good performance if Sweet Ducky can finish fourth or better. The purse for the race is $2,000,000. Sweet Ducky currently has $120,000 in graded earnings. Fourth place in the UAE Derby pays $100,000.
Third place pays $200,000, second pays $400,000 and the winner is paid $1,200,000. The races pays down to fifth and sixth places, $60,000 and $40,000 respectively.
Other Notes from Dubai
Reem, Mahbooba and Zanzamar - South African trainer Mike de Kock has a formidable record in the UAE Derby, having saddled the winner of five of the last eight renewals and twice registering a 1-2 finish in the race.
He will be well represented this year with the UAE 1000 Guineas first and second runners, the fillies Mahbooba and Reem--joined by UAE 2000 Guineas runner-up Zanzabar.
“From what we have seen here, I really do believe that the fillies are better than the colts. Obviously Khawlah is a very nice filly, but Mahbooba can hopefully reverse their form.
“It is the new colts who are hard to gauge.” he said. “Their form looks good, but it is not always easy to adapt straight away, and they have not had a run. We have to be hopeful.”
Master of Hounds, Alexander Pope - The Aidan O'Brien-trained runners are expected to arrive in Dubai in the early hours of Tuesday morning. Due to quarantine rules, the earliest the horses can make an appearance on the track will be Thursday morning.
--By Dick Downey with content from Meydan release