Mnasek, runner-up to Saudi Derby-bound Soft Whisper last out, romped in the UAE Oaks (Erika Rasmussen/Dubai Racing Club)
A Kentucky-bred daughter of Empire Maker, Mnasek has earned her ticket back stateside after a dominant victory in Thursday’s $125,000 UAE Oaks (G3) at Meydan. But the Al Rashid Stables runner could make one more start in Dubai, if connections decide to take a swing at the Mar. 27 UAE Derby (G2) on World Cup night.
Just as the UAE Derby offers a bonanza of Kentucky Derby (G1) points, so does the companion UAE Oaks serve as a qualifier for the Kentucky Oaks (G1). Mnasek picked up 50 points in her 6 1/2-length romp, extending her record to 2-for-3.
Her lone loss came last time out to the most exciting filly in Dubai, Godolphin’s Soft Whisper, in the Jan. 28 UAE 1000 Guineas. Soft Whisper would have been a hot favorite to follow up in the Oaks, until trainer Saeed bin Suroor opted to take on the boys in Saturday’s Saudi Derby on the $20 million Saudi Cup undercard
Mnasek was a distant second in the Guineas, where she missed the break and never got close to the romping Soft Whisper. The Doug Watson trainee worked on her gate skills in the meantime, and the effort paid off as she broke much better in the Oaks.
Settling in midpack early on the rail, jockey Pat Dobbs took the opportunity to switch outside on the backstretch. Mnasek was traveling best of all on the far turn, moving in tandem with the stalkers Last Sunset and Al Maroom as they ranged alongside the weakening leader Jumeirah Beach.
The formation didn’t last long, for Mnasek was already putting them all away turning into the stretch. The bay drew off to win in isolation in a final time of 1:59.18 for about 1 3/16 miles.
The maiden Nayefah, by 2010 Derby winner Super Saver and out of a mare by 2007 Derby champ Street Sense, rallied to earn 20 points in second. Last Sunset, a stablemate of Soft Whisper’s, checked in third and received 10 points. Another five lengths back came Al Maroom in fourth, good for five points. Super Chianti, another Super Saver filly, tired to fifth, followed by Khatun and Jumeirah Beach.
Mnasek had beaten Nayefah by 6 3/4 lengths in her Dec. 17 debut, a result that few could have thought would forecast the Oaks exacta. She’s now bankrolled $113,479, quite a return for a filly who brought just $15,000 as a juvenile at Fasig-Tipton Midlantic. That was even less than her $28,000 price as a Keeneland September yearling.
Her lack of auction appeal isn’t based on pedigree. Bred by Don Alberto Corp., she is out of Grade 2 winner Washington Bridge, a mare by the Storm Cat stallion Yankee Gentleman. Mnasek sports a cross similar to Triple Crown champion American Pharoah, himself by Empire Maker’s son Pioneerof the Nile and also out of a Yankee Gentleman mare.
Watson believes that Mnasek should be repatriated to
continue her progress stateside.
“I don’t know if this performance will get her an invite to
the UAE Derby – a lot of times it does,” her trainer told Dubai Racing Club
publicity. “If that is the case, we will have to see if the owners want to run
“If not she needs to go to America. She is just learning her
craft now, and I love the way she broke tonight. She wasn’t over keen with the
kickback, but once she was out of it she traveled well and won nicely.”