2019 UAE Derby at a Glance

Mendelssohn won the 2018 UAE Derby, and his owner, trainer, and jockey are back with Van Beethoven this year.
Mendelssohn won the 2018 UAE Derby, and his owners, trainer, and jockey are back with Van Beethoven this year. (Eclipse Sportswire)

The UAE Derby generally sparks talk about the Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve, but if the morning-line favorite prevails in this year’s race, all of the chatter just might center on the Kentucky Oaks. The horse to beat in the mile-and-three-sixteenths stakes is a filly as Godolphin’s Divine Image enters the race with three wins in four career starts and is coming off a decisive 7 ¼-length win over the boys at Meydan that stamps her as the starting point for handicappers analyzing the race.

UAE Derby

Racetrack: Meydan Racecourse in Dubai, UAE

Date: March 30

Purse: $2,500,000

Distance: 1 3/16 miles

Race: 5

Post Time: 10:05 a.m. ET

Notable winners: Lani (2016); Thunder Snow (2017), winner of the 2018 Dubai World Cup; and Mendelssohn (2018).

First held: 2000

Kentucky Derby points: 100-40-20-10 to the top four finishers, respectively

1. Walking Thunder (5-1): Was second by 5 ½ lengths in a Group 3 prep for this race after winning his previous start by nine lengths. Perhaps he bounced off that big win and getting the legendary Frankie Dettori for this trip is a positive sign.

JOCKEY: Frankie Dettori TRAINER: Ahmad bin Harmash

2. Jahbath (6-1): Ships in from England where he’s won four of five starts, including the last four. The hitch is that all of those wins came on a synthetic surface. Not only did he win all of those races, but he was no higher than 3-5 in each of them, raising questions about the quality of his rivals. At 6-1 there’s not much value in gambling on how he’ll handle dirt.

JOCKEY: Jim Crowley TRAINER: William Haggas

3. Golden Jaguar (15-1): He’s raced three times, winning twice and losing by a neck in his most recent start. The wins have come on both turf and dirt in solid final times. He’s a stablemate of Walking Thunder who is 5-1 and at 15-1 he’s worth a long look.

JOCKEY: Oisin Murphy TRAINER: Ahmad bin Harmash

4. Plus Que Parfait (15-1): Is one of three Americans horses traveling a long way to pick up some Kentucky Derby points. He ended his 2-year-old season on a strong note with a second in the Kentucky Jockey Club, but endured a rough trip when fifth in the Lecomte and then was a dull 13th in the Risen Star. Traveling to another continent off an effort like that doesn’t make sense, so his connections must be seeing something good in him.

Divine Image has a good chance to duplicate her Al Bastakiya effort and defeat the boys in the UAE Derby.
Divine Image has a good chance to duplicate her Al Bastakiya effort and defeat the boys in the UAE Derby. (Dubai Racing Club/Erika Rasmussen)

JOCKEY: Jose Ortiz TRAINER: Brendan Walsh

5. Derma Louvre (12-1): Arrives from Japan, where he’s never been worse than third in five starts. He won his first three starts but lost his last two. His connections are eager to race in the Kentucky Derby and he should be able to run through the Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby, so a huge effort here is not a necessity.

JOCKEY: Christophe Lemaire TRAINER: Hirofumi Toda

6. Divine Image (2-1): The filly just beat the boys by 7 ¼ lengths in the Al Bastakiya over the track at this distance. She hails from one of the world’s best stables in Godolphin and is in outstanding hands. Her prowess at the distance (2-for-2) is a factor that cannot be overlooked but she seems to be facing some tough rivals here.

JOCKEY: William Buick TRAINER: Charlie Appleby

7. Superior (12-1): Was second to Divine Image but was 7 ¼ lengths behind at the finish line. Lost by 19 ½ lengths in his start before that to Manguzi, who was then third in the Al Bastakiya, so maybe he’s getting better, but there still a big gap between him and the favorite. He’s the third starter trained by Ahmad bin Harmash.

JOCKEY: Connor Beasley TRAINER: Ahmad bin Harmash

8. Gray Magician (15-1): Another American was second to the well-regarded Alwaysmining in the Miracle Wood at Laurel in his last start. He was fourth in the Grade 3 Sham Stakes at Santa Anita, beaten by three lengths, so he has enough class to be a contender and has a sharp trainer in Peter Miller. The distance, however, seems a tad too long.

JOCKEY: Joel Rosario TRAINER: Peter Miller

9. Razeena (50-1): This is a bit of a head scratcher. In her last start, she finished third behind Divine Image, just 3 ¾ lengths back at the wire. So, what are her odds? 10-1? Try 50-1. Yeah, she was about 15 lengths behind Divine Image in her start before that, but still 50-1? Might be worth using in the superfecta if those odds hold up.

JOCKEY: Patrick Dobbs TRAINER: Doug Watson

10. Al Hayette (50-1): Another filly who tackled Divine Image in her last two starts, she finished more than 25 total lengths behind her. Seeing 50-1 on her is much more understandable.

JOCKEY: Fabrice Veron TRAINER: Ismail Mohammed

11. Van Beethoven (10-1): Another European with nothing but turf and synthetic races in his past performances. He’s a son of Scat Daddy, the daddy of Justify (and Divine Image), out of a Montbrook mare, so he should be able to handle dirt. He’s trained by Aidan O’Brien, who won this race by the length of the stretch last year with Mendelssohn. This one may not be as good as that one, but he merits serious consideration.

JOCKEY: Ryan Moore TRAINER: Aidan O’Brien

12. Stubbins (12-1): The third American is coming off an eight-length win in a Santa Anita stakes transferred to the main track. He’s unlikely to find much rain in the desert, but he seems to be getting better with each start and could take home a minor share of the purse for trainer Doug O’Neill.

JOCKEY: Flavien Prat TRAINER: Doug O’Neill

13. Swift Rose (30-1): Morning Line Shocker No 2. In February, she made her last start and lost by a neck. To whom? Divine Image, the 2-1 favorite. So, she’s 5-1? Nope, 30-1. She did lose by 46 lengths before that, but still, this Godolphin filly is anything but a tossout if the odds are 15-1 or more.

JOCKEY: Patrick Cosgrave TRAINER: Saeed bin Suroor

14. Manguzi (15-1): He was 8 ¼ lengths behind Divine Image in the Al Bastakiya and nine lengths behind Walking Thunder in January. Those races, plus having to overcome the outside post in a field of 14, weaken the chances of him taking a step forward.

JOCKEY: Fernando Jara TRAINER: Ali Al Rayhi

THE PICK: Van Beethoven

LIVE LONGSHOT: Plus Que Parfait

SUPERFECTA: 11-4-1-3

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