Mubtaahij romps in UAE Derby, trainer says on to Kentucky

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) Well, that was easy.

Mubtaahij pulled away from the field around the final turn and cruised to an eight-length victory in the $2 million UAE Derby at Meydan Racecourse on Saturday.

The overpowering win convinced the 3-year-old’s trainer that it’s time to give the Kentucky Derby a try for the first time.

”We’ll be there,” said Mike de Kock, the well-known international trainer who rarely races in the United States. ”This has given us a chance to get to the Kentucky Derby.”

A strong effort was needed by Mubtaahij to earn a spot in the May 2 Derby, and jockey Christophe Soumillon was happy to be along for the ride.

”I was just behind the leaders and the pace was good, so I followed it into the straight,” said Soumillon ”I was going very easily and as soon as I pressed the button it was all over. In the end, I kept some energy for the future, especially if he goes to the Kentucky Derby.”

The UAE Derby win was worth 100 Derby qualifying points – more than enough to get into a field limited to 20 starters.

Mubtaahij, sent off as the favorite, followed pace-setters Golden Barrows and Tap That before Soumillon took off with his colt and blew away the competition. It was the colt’s fourth win in his last five starts, all on a dirt surface.

De Kock has won the UAE Derby six times.

Mubtaahij’s arrival at Churchill Downs would give the Derby a truly international flavor. The owner is Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum, the trainer is South African, the jockey is French and horse was bred in Ireland.

Maftool was second and Golden Barows third.

The winning time for the 1,900-meter race (about 1 3/16 miles) was 1:58.35.

The UAE Derby was one of several races on the $29 million Dubai World Cup program. In the $10 million World Cup, Prince Bishop defeated 2014 Horse of the Year California Chrome by 2 3/4 lengths.

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