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Apr 03, 2015

AMERICAN TURF CLUB LEAD-UAE DERBY-FLORIDA DERBY-LA DERBY

By: JOE GIRARDI


               The Road to the Kentucky Derby continued on Saturday March 28th. There was three Kentucky Derby prep races, two in the United States and one in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

               In the UAE Derby, a race for three year olds run over 1 and 3/16th miles run over a dirt course and carried a purse of $2 million dollars. Mubtaahij sent off as the odds-on favorite in the race and did not disappoint as he went on to score by eight lengths as he was geared down through the lane. That win ran his record to 4 wins from 7 starts with all of his wins coming over the Meydan racetrack. Trained by the well respected Michael de Kock, Mubtaahij looks like he is going to make the trip to Kentucky for the Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday in May. The UAE Derby offered 100 Kentucky Derby points to the winner, 40 for second, 20 for third and 10 for fourth. If he can bring his race to the U. S. Mubtaahij will be a major factor in the run for the roses.

               The Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park was run on March 28th. The race is for three year olds run over 1 and 1/8th miles and carried a purse of $1 million dollars. There was a field of nine that went postward with Upstart going off as the even money favorite. Materiality, who was undefeated in two starts for the Todd Pletcher barn and making his stakes debut was sent off as the 9-5 second choice. When the gates opened, Jack Tripp, a 61-1 longshot came out running for the lead and set the early pace with Materiality in second and Upstart just outside of him in third. The fractions of 23:4, 48:1, 1:12:2 were moderate but the track was playing very slow all day. As they moved into the far turn Materiality and Upstart both ran by the leader and those two were going head to head into the lane. Materiality, who was on the inside had a slight advantage over Upstart, as they got to midstretch, Materiality came out slightly and brushed with Upstart but he did start to edge away and went on to score by more than a length. Upstart was second and was more than 12 lengths clear of the show horse, Ami’s Flatter. Itsaknockout, who was second in the Fountain of Youth but was placed first by D’Q checked in a well beaten fourth. The final time of the race was a slow 1:52:1. The mile time was actually faster than the mile time for the slightly longer Skip Away earlier in the card. However, the slow final furlong of almost 14 seconds will have a lot of experts shying away from these two horses come Derby time but Materiality, who only has three career starts can still improve and should have gotten plenty out of that Florida Derby.

               The Louisiana Derby, the highlight of the Fair Grounds meeting was run on March 28th. The race was for three year olds, run over 1 and 1/8th miles with a purse of $750,000. There was a field of nine that went postward with International Star going off as the slight 2-1 favorite and was going for a sweep of all three Kentucky Derby preps run at the Fair Grounds this winter. Breaking from post nine, International Star, with jockey Miguel Mena aboard was able to save ground into the first turn while racing in seventh early on. The pace was set by Todd Pletcher trainee Stanford who broke running from the rail and set the pace through fractions of 24, 48:2, 1:13:1. As they moved around the final turn, Stanford still held the lead while Mr. Z, the 3-1 third choice was racing in second and International Star, who was moving up the inside got into third. As they turned into the lane, Stanford was set down and still held the advantage, International Star angled off the rail and bumped with Mr. Z and set his sights on Stanford. As they moved down the lane, Stanford and International Star battled through the whole stretch with International Star finally getting up late to score by a neck over Stanford who was more than four lengths clear of the second choice War Story who checked in third. Mr. Z tired to finish ninth and last. International Star earned 100 points for that win and is guaranteed a spot in the Derby starting gate. Stanford earned 40 points for second, War Story earned 20 points for third and 10 points went to fourth place finisher Keen Ice. International Star looked good this winter at the Fair Grounds but he definitely got some very good trips, he will need a good trip in Kentucky to get the job done. Stanford, who was making his third start of the year was a distant second behind Materiality in his prior start at Gulfstream Park seems to be on the improve but Materiality proved best when those two met.

               Next week we will take a look at three more major prep races, the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct, the Blue Grass at Keeneland and the Santa Anita Derby at Santa Anita.



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