Saturday's $2 million U.A.E. Derby (UAE-G2) could witness its first female winner, for three of the prime threats are fillies. Godolphin's highly-regarded KHAWLAH (Cape Cross [Ire]) benefited from a perfect trip to thwart Mike de Kock's number one MAHBOOBA (Galileo [Ire]) in the February 24 U.A.E. Oaks (UAE-G3) at this 1 3/16-mile trip.
De Kock later revealed the depth of his bench when REEM (Galileo [Ire]), previously runner-up to Mahbooba in the U.A.E. One Thousand Guineas, annihilated a suspect group of males in the March 3 Al Bastakiya. Yet the form was given a decent look by the fact that Al Bastakiya runner-up AHLAAIN (Bernstein) had also finished second to INTROVERT (Iffraaj) in the February 24 Meydan Classic on turf.
Thus the top two colts from the February 10 U.A.E. Two Thousand Guineas (UAE-G3), Godolphin's SPLASH POINT (Street Cry [Ire]) and de Kock's ZANZAMAR (Fort Wood), rate as lesser lights from their yards.
Godolphin's new recruit, multiple Brazilian Group 1 star XIN XU LIN (Wondertross), lures Frankie Dettori into the saddle. Last seen trumping older horses in the prestigious Gran Premio Carlos Pellegrini (Arg-G1), Xin Xu Lin will be trying synthetic in his first start for new connections.
Also debuting for new ownership is multiple stakes winner SWEET DUCKY (Pulpit), the runner-up to Dialed In (Mineshaft) in the January 30 Holy Bull S. (G3), who was just purchased by Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov. New trainer Herman Brown has indicated that the Kentucky Derby (G1) is still a possibility.
Three U.A.E. Derby entrants are exiting unplaced efforts in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (G2) -- sixth-placer MASTER OF HOUNDS (Kingmambo), seventh UTLEY (Smart Strike) and 10th MANTOBA (GB) (Noverre). Master of Hounds is one of a pair from the Aidan O'Brien squad, the other being ALEXANDER POPE (Danehill Dancer), and Japanese hopeful LASER BULLET (Brian's Time) rounds out the field.