Having added Vineyard Haven and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Midshipman to the arsenal, Dubai interests owned at least four high-class 3-year-olds at the outset of the season, two of which finished first and second in the UAE Derby beneath the Godolphin colors on Saturday at Nad Al Sheba, where Regal Ransom avenged two runner-up finishes behind Desert Party, who was already among the division leaders. Things haven’t exactly panned out for Vineyard Haven and Midshipman but despite the depth of this group of 3-year-olds the Maktoum family is nevertheless strongly positioned in the Kentucky Derby chase.
Obviously, Regal Ransom was always regarded highly by his connections, who sent him from a maiden win at Saratoga last summer in his career debut directly to the Grade 1 Norfolk at Santa Anita, where they discovered quickly his distaste for the synthetic course. Were it not for that misadventure the colt would have begun the season in a more prominent position. As it stands, the UAE Derby result was hardly surprising. There was little separating the first two to begin with and both stayed on well in their first test at 9 furlongs while racing on a course said to be almost identical to the ground at Churchill.
The Maktoums have not yet threatened to win a Derby, or any Triple Crown race, but the reason has nothing to do with the time zone in which the animals they have sent were prepared. Despite the staggering amount of money spent in pursuit of the Derby, they have yet to send the right horse to Louisville. They are not, however, easily discouraged. -- PM