Friday’s $150,000 UAE Oaks (G3) turned into a match race between Dubai’s top filly Mimi Kakushi and Doug O’Neill shipper Ami Please. As they battled down the lane at Meydan, Mimi Kakushi kept finding more to outlast Ami Please and earn 50 points toward the Kentucky Oaks (G1).

Owned by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed al Maktoum and trained by Salem bin Ghadayer, Mimi Kakushi was heavily favored to complete a UAE classic double. The Kentucky-bred proved herself as the best of the local division when dominating the UAE 1000 Guineas, but the Oaks posed two new challenges: the about 1 3/16-mile trip, and Ami Please, fresh in from California where she’d been performing creditably in turf stakes.
Ami Please blasted straight to the early lead and ran her heart out trying to go wire to wire. Mimi Kakushi, who broke sharply but couldn’t beat Ami Please to the front, instead took up a close stalking position. Asawer was also prominent on the outside, until turning for home, when the top two pulled away.

Under regular rider Mickael Barzalona, Mimi Kakushi accosted Ami Please, and the pair settled into a stretch-long duel. Mimi Kakushi gradually wore down Ami Please and edged 1 1/4 lengths clear. The daughter of City of Light and multiple Grade 2-winning sprinter Rite Moment took 2:00.01 to finish the all-out slog.

“She’s a very classy filly and she does everything we ask her to,” Barzalona said. “The longer trip was in her favor. (Ami Please) was much faster away than us and my filly was happy to sit behind. At the end I felt like I had plenty in hand.”

Ami Please banked 20 Oaks points for her game runner-up effort. Asawer stayed on in third, another 3 3/4 lengths back, to pick up 15 points. Priyanka was a neck away in fourth, good for 10 points, and Awasef received five points in fifth. Next came Solaire and a distanced Habooba.
Mimi Kakushi extended her winning skein to three, all since the addition of cheekpieces for the Dec. 23 UAE 1000 Guineas Trial. The bay had been fourth in a pair of maidens last fall, and her resume now reads 5-3-0-0, $212,700. 
Bred by Woodford Thoroughbreds, also the breeder of recent Holy Bull (G3) winner Rocket Can and Vahva who runs in Saturday’s Rachel Alexandra (G2) at Fair Grounds, Mimi Kakushi has sold twice at Fasig-Tipton. She brought $180,000 as a yearling at the firm’s Kentucky July Sale and $250,000 as a two-year-old at Midlantic May. 

Bin Ghadayer has praised Mimi Kakushi as the best filly he’s trained. In the immediate aftermath of the UAE Oaks, the horseman indicated that her owner would make decisions about future targets. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed will consider the Mar. 25 UAE Derby (G2) versus males, depending upon how that race shapes up on Dubai World Cup night, and a trip to Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Oaks is also possible. 

“She was my favorite filly, and she improved again tonight,” Bin Ghadayer said. “To be honest, I thought this race would be even easier than the Guineas as she wouldn’t be under pressure the whole way.
“She was a professional filly from the beginning, especially in her mind, and she’s very easy to train. She knows she must give everything in a race.
“The UAE Derby and the Kentucky Oaks for sure will be on her agenda,” her trainer said of the options on the table, “but we need to discuss it with Sheikh Hamdan (bin Mohammed).”