Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, who heads up the Godolphin Stables, has this dream of winning the Kentucky Derby by preparing his colts in Dubai and then traveling to the States before the race. He’s failed in four previous attempts and has two chances this year — Regal Ransom and Desert Party. I know some experts who give both colts a big chance Saturday, but I just can’t see it. I think he’ll be 0 for 5 after this weekend because it’s just too taxing on a young horse to travel this far and then have to beat 19 others in a grueling 1 1/4-mile race.
Read the Tuesday report on Sheikh Mohammed’s two colts released by the Churchill Downs publicity folks and then participate in our poll and let us know what you think.
DESERT PARTY/REGAL RANSOM – Shortly before dawn and well before rain arrived, trainer Saeed bin Suroor sent the two Godolphin colts out to gallop a mile and a quarter.
Bin Suroor said the colts are happy, healthy and in good form.
After starting their careers in the United States last summer, the colts were sent to Dubai for the winter racing season. Desert Party beat Regal Ransom in the first two of the preps for the $2 million U.A.E. Derby, but Regal Ransom won the main event by a half-length.
“One week before the race, I told the boys in the stable “Listen, there might be a surprise in the UAE. Derby,’ ” bin Suroor said. “I was right.
“At the same time, Desert Party, who is always happy and does everything you ask him in a professional way, wasn’t really happy when I saddled him for the race. He was really quiet before the race. I thought that wasn’t his day. I checked him for two days after the race and he was very quiet, but later it seemed that he was coming back really good to his form. Now he’s really a different animal.”
Bin Suroor said his colts have flourished in the month since their most recent race.
“When they were in Dubai they improved all the time, but since the last race they look much better than ever,” bin Suroor said. “We come here with some confidence. We’re looking to see our horses run a big race.”
This is the fifth time that Godolphin – the racing operation headed by the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum – sent horses to Louisville for America’s biggest race. The top finish was a sixth by China Visit in 2000.
“This is the hardest race in the world,” bin Suroor said, “and the best race in the world, a mile and a quarter for 3-year-olds. It’s hard to win. You need a special horse. Tough. Class. Speed. Everything in one horse.
“We tried coming from Dubai four times. Now, I think we have better horses than what we saw in Dubai. We’re trying this year and it looks to me that our horses are doing much, much better than ever.”