By Dick Downey
Updated 10:54 am ET
The Al Bastakiya at Meydan isn't exactly considered a stepping stone to the Kentucky Oaks, but that's how it could turn out with the filly Divine Magic (KY), who dominated a field of 14 in Saturday's race at Meydan.
Under Brett Doyle, Divine Image rated not far off the pace, loomed leaving the far turn and took command in the stretch before drawing off to win the Al Bastakiya by 7 1/4 lengths.
Superior (KY), who tracked pacesetter The Song of John up the back and around the turn, took the lead at the top of the stretch. Manguzi (FR), the Al Bastakiya Trial winner, soon challenged that one, but Divine Image overtook both of them and quickly separated herself.
Superior stayed on to finish second and complete a Kentucky-bred exacta, a length in front of Manguzi. Al Hayette (KY), a huge longshot, was another 11 lengths back in fourth.
The remaining order of finish was Al Shamkhah, Red Cactus, Tabarak, Shanty Star, The Song of John, Moshaher, Fintas, Grecko, Estihdaaf and Tone Broke. Estihdaaf, the UAE 2000 Guineas winner and post time favorite, had a bad trip, which started out seven or eight wide around the first turn, and never threatened.
Trainer Charlie Appleby, asked if the UAE Derby would be next for Divine Image, didn't rule it out but said winning owner Godolphin is considering the Kentucky Oaks.
Superior, last seen running fifth in the Al Bastakiya Trial, would be expected to run back in the UAE Derby, with an eye on making the Kentucky Derby. The Al Bastakiya carries no Kentucky Derby points, but the UAE Derby, set for March 30, carries points on a scale of 100-40-20-10 to the top four finishers.
Divine Image was bred in Kentucky by Peter Magnier and is a daughter of Scat Daddy out of Sure Route (GB), by Ishiguru. She was a $195,000 RNA at Keeneland September 2017, sold for $125,000 at Fasig-Tipton Kentucky October 2017 and sold again at the Arqana Breeze-Up sale in May 2018 for $$429,912.
The race, at 1 3/16 mile, was timed in 1:59.07.
Today's win was the third in four starts for Divine Image. Last time out, she prevailed in the UAE Oaks at Meydan by a neck.
Charlie Appleby, winning trainer: “That’s what we’ve seen from her. She’s a great finisher. Full credit to the team. She’s been tricky, but Brett’s been riding her the last two weeks since we knew William couldn’t do the weight. I’m delighted for His Highness Sheikh Mohammed who is here this evening to see her. She’s a very talented filly, but she’s learning on the job and this was a team effort tonight. Before the race we had the discussion of if she were to win, we wouldn’t rush into (whether to go in the UAE Derby). It’s definitely on the cards, but we also have the Kentucky Oaks to take into consideration.”
Brett Doyle, winning jockey: “It’s great to see it work all around. All through the winter, Charlie has done a great job with her. I’ve had the pleasure of her the last week or so. She’s an improving filly. She’s lovely and won it very well. She’s a filly who likes to get on with it. She’ll get better as she goes along, like she showed today.”
Connor Beasley, jockey of Superior: “He jumped pretty smartly and traveled great throughout the race. I probably got to the front earlier than ideal. Take nothing away from the horse. He’s run his third start and didn’t run the best last time, but there were excuses for that. He showed his class today. Obviously, the winner has won well, but she had only 53 (kilograms) on her back and has a lot more experience than my fellow.”
Fernando Jara, jockey of Manguzi: “It was a great race for him coming from a bad draw, but we are very happy with him. He did great. He tried hard, as usual. Three more weeks now, and we will be more ready for the next race. If we get a good draw next time, hopefully we will be OK.”
Fabrice Veron, jockey of Al Hayette: “She tried very hard. Today she was more focused. We got out of the woods, you know. She finished distant, but ran very well. She has a big heart.”
Pat Cosgrave, jockey of Estihdaaf: “I just got put a bit too wide and the race was over sort of half-way. We were too wide; that’s all. Hopefully he will come back for the Derby and get a nice draw. He was just too wide today.”