Aidan O’Brien is looking for a repeat win in the Group 2 UAE Derby with Lines of Battle, who will face 11 others in the $2,000,000 race.
Successful 12 months ago with Daddy Long Legs, the Irish trainer has Ryan Moore on board on Saturday.
The 1 3/16-mile UAE Derby is race 4 on the Dubai World Cup card at Meydan Racecourse and goes off at 10:25 a.m. ET. It's worth 170 Kentucky Derby points, with 100 to the winner, 40 to second, 20 to third and 10 to fourth. The race is conducted on a Tapeta surface.
“He's trying a new trip and a new surface, said O’Brien. “But he won well on Polytrack at Dundalk last year, and we're happy with him for his first run of the year.”
As you would expect, Godolphin is well represented. Saeed bin Suroor and Mahmood Al Zarooni each have two in the race.
Bin Suroor will saddle Secret Number, winner over the course and distance in the Al Bastakiya, and UAE Oaks winner Shuruq.
Bin Suroor said: “Secret Number has run twice in his life, winning a maiden and a listed race. He is improving all the time and doing really well. He is unbeaten and I am sure he has the class to run a big race.
“Shuruq won really, really well in the UAE Oaks. She is running over the same course and distance which she seems to stay well. She is ready to go again, and I am hopeful of another good performance, but it is a tougher race as she takes on the colts.”
Al Zarooni has both Now Spun and Snowboarder. “Now Spun is really doing well. He is a nice sort and there is improvement in him," the trainer said. "He has not had enough experience yet, and I hope his turf form will translate to Tapeta.
“I think Snowboarder will be fine in this race. Last time Mickael (Barzalona) lost his whip in the final furlong, and this is a horse who needs encouragement. I think he will run a better race this time as there is a little bit of improvement in him. He always tries his best which can be seen from his consistent record. One day he will win again.”
Mike de Kock has a good record in this race, but his runners, Zahee and Emotif, both need improvement.
“Zahee has improved with each of his outings but possibly just lacks that touch of class to win this," de Kock said, "but he will certainly run an honest, solid race. Emotif is as fit as we have had her this season, and her condition continues to improve. She needs to raise her game markedly to be competitive, but she is fit and well.”
Other UAE Derby Notes
Dice Flavor – The Paddy Gallagher trainee galloped and then stood in the starting gate at Meydan Friday morning. “Getting close to a race, we like to stand him,” said Gallagher. “He galloped this morning and seemed to canter fine. He stood nice in the gate and he usually does. We’ll just do something light with him in the morning in the stable area. It’s a long wait until race time, but it’s a nice wait.”
Elleval – “He’s improving and he’s drawn a good gate in two, unlike last time when he was drawn wide and got held up for a run. His prep has gone well,. and I could see him winning some prize-money again,” said trainer David Marnane.
He's Had Enough – Assistant trainer Leandro Mora gave his assessment. “He’s got one way to run – the last quarter is his,” said Mora. “The 12 post might help us a little bit because everyone else will be running, and we can take back to get good position. But here we are racing against a lot of horses that have raced here and raced in Europe, so they may have the same idea.”
Mora said he would tack-walk He’s Had Enough in the stable area on Friday and then let him rest up for the evening.
Keiai Leone – Keiai Leone stayed in, walking around the stable area on Friday. Trainer Katsuichi Nishizono commented, “I gave him a walk to relax him before the race. I think he is in a good form and good feels. He did some strong works before he flew in Dubai, and he has also worked on the Tapeta well. Hopefully he can take a good position to follow the pace.
Law Enforcement – The 3-year-old took a lead from a pony from the chute to the main track, where he completed one circuit. Richard Hughes let the colt open up for 100 yards in the home stretch, and the colt completed his exercise with zest.
“That was lovely,” Hughes said. “My only concern before the race was that he may lack a little early speed, but I'm not worried now. He has showed me plenty of speed since he arrived here.”
Richard Hannon, assistant trainer to his father, also Richard, is optimistic about Law Enforcement's chances, “It looks a open race, and we are right in the mix. This horse has surprised us every time he has run. He went from handicaps straight into a Group 1 race (in Italy), which he won, and the trip will suit him.”
Lines of Battle – On Friday, he emerged from quarantine in company with his four Ballydoyle stablemates to stretch his legs on the main track. Having walked and trotted the "wrong" way round for 1 1/2 circuits, Lines Of Battle turned and followed St Nicholas Abbey at a steady canter for half a circuit, after which he was sweating mildly under the saddle.
“He had a wide draw (post 14) at the Breeders' Cup (Juvenile Turf), and that probably had a lot to do with the way he ran (to finish seventh),” said Joseph O'Brien, son of trainer Aidan. “It was a very hard task, and we feel he is better than that. The Tapeta is an unknown for him, and he is up in trip, but we think he is quite a nice horse.”