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Mubtaahuj Turns Derby Into One-Horse Race

Photo: Erika Rasmussen (www.erikarphotography.com)

With an eye-opening win in the $2 million UAE Derby sponsored by the Saeed & Mohammed Al Naboodah Group, Sheikh Mohammad Bin Khalifa Al Maktoum`s three-year-old Mubtaahij (IRE) continued his charge towards the Kentucky Derby with a eight-length romp.

Breaking from the rail post in the field of nine, the Mike De Kock-trainee raced in the pocket behind a wall of front runners into the final turn.

He took over at the top of the stretch an increased his margin of victory to the wire. The timer stopped in 1:58.35 for 1900m on fast dirt.

“I was just behind the leaders and the pace was good, so I followed it into the straight, said jockey Christophe Soumillon, who was riding Mubtaahij for the first time.

"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."

It was the fourth win in six lifetime starts for the son of Dubawi, whose lone loss on dirt came to Maftool (USA) in the UAE 2000 Guineas on February 12.

Last early on, Maftool rallied stoutly in the stretch and got up to secure second by three-quarters of a length over Japanese contender Golden Barows (USA), who was forwardly-placed throughout. It was another quarter length back to Motaa (KSA) in fourth.

“He was a bit naughty in the gate," said Maftool`s rider Paul Hanagan. "He didn’t jump and that was the start of it. He was never travelling at any stage. He stays, I just wish he could have helped me more.”

Mubtaahij earned 100 Kentucky Derby points for the victory and Maftool earned 50 for second. Both horses were early nominees to the American Triple Crown.

Quotes for the Group 2 US$2m UAE Derby sponsored by The Saeed & Mohammed Al Naboodah Group


Christophe Soumillon (jockey, Mubtaahij (IRE), 1st) – “I was just behind the leaders and the pace was good, so I followed it into the straight.

“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.”

Paul Hanagan (jockey, Maftool (USA), 2nd) – “He was a bit naughty in the gate. He didn’t jump and that was the start of it. He was never travelling at any stage. He stays - I just wish he could have helped me more.”

Ryan Moore (jockey, Golden Barows (USA), 3rd) – “The pace was slow and I had pressure from the outside. They didn’t go very fast and he was keen early and didn’t relax. He didn’t really stay in the end but he’ll be okay. The 1900m was a little long, maybe 1600m is his best distance.”

Jose Lezcano (jockey, Motaa (KSA), 4th) – "He broke a little slow, but I think that`s good, I didn`t want to be too close when I let him relax, but he never did. He wanted to run off the whole way. He still ran good. He didn`t relax. He just ran the whole way."

Joao Moreira (jockey, Tap That (JPN), 5th) – “He was feeling pressure most of the race from those outside horses. That took a little of his energy the last furlong but overall it was a very good effort.”

William Buick (jockey, Sir Fever (URU), 6th) – “I wanted to be up there (early). It wasn`t what we wanted. From the gate it didn`t work out for us.”

Kieren Fallon (jockey, Faithful Creek (IRE), 7th) – “He didn’t handle the track. They went a very quick pace but he’ll have his day.”

Kosei Miura (jockey, Dear Domus (JPN), 8th) – “The horse jumped well form the gate and settled in a very favourable position but another horse bumped him between the first and second turn. He did recover his rhythm in the end.”

Victor Espinoza (jockey, My Johnny Be Good (USA), 9th) – “I was off the pace. Pushed a little wide but he wasn’t good enough on the day.”
Mickael Barzalona (jockey, Alnajem Alfaiz (KSA), 10th) – “He didn’t handle the dirt. He didn’t like the kickback at all.”