De Kock can start dreaming of Kentucky straights after UAE romp

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The Americans have pretty much had the Kentucky Derby to themselves over the past century, with only two non-native-bred winners in its 130-year history and the last in 1956, but Mike de Kock’s Mubtaahij has the South African handler dreaming after winning the UAE Derby by 8l in Meydan.  

Mubtaahij reversed form emphatically with Saeed bin Suroor’s Maftool, who had beaten De Kock’s runner over a mile at the same track six weeks ago, and with the Kentucky Derby trip just a half-furlong step up from the UAE equivalent, the Dubawi colt is clearly bang in the picture.

Ladbrokes certainly seem to think so anyway, with the bookies currently rating Mubtaahij as 12/1 joint third-favourite for Churchill Downs’ main event in May.

Three-time winner Bob Baffert trains current 4/1 favourite American Pharoah, who has won his last three races handsomely having failed first time out, but the 62-year-old hasn’t had a Kentucky Derby winner since 2002, despite sending out high-class competitors such as Lookin At Lucy, who went off favourite in 2010.

Baffert’s 7/1 second favourite Dortmund actually holds slightly better form on the face of it, having won all five of his starts, but De Kock’s runner’s loss to Maftool was the three-year-old’s only reverse in his past five, despite going up in trip from 7f-1m1f during that run.

History may be against Mubtaahij, but both trainer and jockey were effusive about their horse after the Dubai World Cup meeting, with De Kock stating:

“It’s probably the best [of my UAE Derby winners] because of what’s still to come.

“This horse has given us the chance to go to the Kentucky Derby and that would be just a dream. That would be very special.

“He had the most unbelievable position and he was just sitting there to pounce on the leaders and ran an unbelievable race. He’s a superstar.”

Rider Christophe Soumillon added:

“I hope the dates work out perfect with the European season. It would be a dream for me to ride in this race.”

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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