Race 4 – $2,000,000 UAE Derby (G2), sponsored by Al Naboodah, 1,900 metres, All-weather
Contrary to the Dubai Gold Cup, we have plenty of strong opinions in the UAE Derby. Break this field into three groups – the seasonally based Dubai runners, the American duo, and new shooters from other global locales.
Get a scale and find the balance in these Trakus statistics from the Al Bastakiya.
#7 SECRET NUMBER is unbeaten and should go favoured. He won from the cheap seats in the Al Bastakiya, covering the equivalent of approximately 11 lengths more than ZAHEE, SNOWBOARDER, ELLEVAL, and EMOTIF – all of whom were parked inside the entire trip. On the back of that Trakus data, he seems very impressive.
Now, chew on this – Secret Number’s Al Bastakiya was the slowest out of four runnings at Meydan – by almost 1.5 seconds – on a day when the Tapeta was not playing slow in any way. Of 48 races at 1,900 metres in the history of Meydan, the final time was 45th out of 48. The final 300 metres of the race came home 44th slowest. When you expect horses to run very slow early, you’d think they would quicken late, but there was none of that in this race. Secret Number is unbeaten and better drawn, going for top connections – can he win? Surely. But in the final balance, we believe slower horses are more telling than bad trips, and side against him entirely.
Inversely, #4 LINES OF BATTLE is a strong on-top selection. In the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Santa Anita, this Ballydoyle-based horse was drawn in gate 14 and covered 76 feet more than winner and stablemate George Vancouver. He actually averaged a faster speed than the winner, despite finishing six lengths adrift – that is how wide he actually traveled. This is telling. Converting the extra ground to lengths suggest Lines of Battle covered more ground than his margin of defeat – basically, he expended enough energy to run a winning race with a much too wide trip. Oh – he has a win on all-weather too, impressively at Dundalk.
When we saw he was drawn in gate four – it was all over for us. He’s the horse to beat. It is worth noting that second home in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, Noble Tune, had one of the most impressive runs of the season back in the U.S., rattling home from last to win in his first start of the year. Trainer Aidan O’Brien won this race last year with Daddy Long Legs and was second beaten a nose the year before with Master of Hounds. We’d say he’s ticked all the boxes.
#1 LAW ENFORCEMENT goes on the all-weather for the first time and has been superb in his grass runs, going to Italy and defeating Sorella Bella, a filly who had some key form lines for the fillies that ran in 3YO races in the UAE this season. He should go close to the pace but comes with plenty of question marks. On class, he’s in the mix.
The U.S. horses will get attention in that market, but seem a cut below. #5 DICE FLAVOR may have had a slight stutter to the beginning of his trip in the U.S., but was a very impressive winner of the El Camino Real Derby, on Tapeta, and without the use of Lasix (the same conditions he faces in this race). While the times were very fast early in that race, and he might have been drawn into it as a result, the way in which he won, bulling through horses, was eye catching. If he’s overcome reported “colicky” symptoms, he’s in with a longshot chance. #12 HE’S HAD ENOUGH seems less likely to improve here – still just a maiden winner, but over a synthetic surface. His best career run was a second with a perfect trip in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile when he ran without Lasix, but there’s almost no circumstance where he gets the perfect trip here.
1st – #4 LINES OF BATTLE, 2nd – #1 LAW ENFORCEMENT, 3rd – #5 DICE FLAVOR