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Dubai horses in the Kentucky Derby

From 1999 to 2002, five horses based and/or trained in Dubai during their initial 3-year-old campaign have broke from the gate in the “Run for the Roses.”  Here are their results:

1999 – Worldly Manner, seventh
2000 – China Visit, sixth
2000 – Curule, seventh
2001 – Express Tour, eighth
2002 – Essence of Dubai, ninth

Granted, there were no victories, but considering the field sizes, and the lack of time each of these runners spent in Kentucky, on track at Churchill Downs - not bad.  Bloggers, writers, and handicappers alike have taken to criticizing the chances of Desert Party and Regal Ransom in the 2009 edition.  Let this much be known – compare Desert Party and Regal Ransom to any of the above five horses at your own risk.

Desert Party trounces Regal Ransom in the UAE 2000 Guineas

Regal Ransom returns the favor in the UAE Derby, Desert Party is coming at the end…

While their jockeys may wear the famed Godolphin blue silks and the fact that both horses spent the winter and early spring in Dubai, the similarities between the aforementioned five Derby chances and this year’s duo end.  Both horses were sent to America a week following their 1-2 finish in the UAE Derby, and following quarantine, began preparing for the Kentucky Derby over the track it is run on, much earlier than their predecessors.  In 2000, Curule never left Dubai until a week before the big race, and China Visit was en route just six days before him.  Still, they managed some decent placings.

Express Tour was sent to Churchill “early” back in 2001, but only because of a hoof-and-mouth outbreak in Europe.  He managed three workouts over the track, even while missing four days due to a bruised hoof, but had only one start prior to the Derby, a win in the UAE equivalent over Street Cry and Lido Palace.

Essence of Dubai had two starts in Dubai, both wins in the UAE 2000 Guineas and UAE Derby, but never touched the track to train for the race until April 19, recording two works prior to the Derby. 

Everything the connections behind Godolphin’s racing operation have done this year has been different: arriving early to Churchill Downs, on purpose; multiple workouts over the track, with regular trackwork in between, and the final works well in advance of the race itself; three preps of increasing distances in Dubai following American-based juvenile campaigns. 

“We tried coming from Dubai four times,”  trainer Saeed bin Suroor said today.  “I think we have better horses than what we saaw in Dubai.”

If so, expect the royal blue to be heard from on Saturday.


  1. I’ll be the only person cheering as loudly for the Godolphin pair as “Mr. Blue” himself, Pat Cummings.

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