Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa al Maktoum's Mubtaahij demolished Saturday's $2 million U.A.E. Derby (UAE-G2), stamping his ticket to Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May.
A U.S. Triple Crown nominee, the Irish-bred son of Dubawi carved out a perfect ground-saving trip just behind the early leaders. Jockey Christophe Soumillon angled the heavy favorite to the outside turning for home, and the race was over. Mubtaahij streaked clear to complete about 1 3/16 miles in 1:58 1/5 on Meydan's dirt and earned 100 points toward the Kentucky Derby.
Mubtaahij missed by a head to Maftool in the first leg of the U.A.E. Triple Crown, the U.A.E. Two Thousand Guineas (UAE-G3), but roared back to win the next two. He readily took the Al Bastakiya by 2 1/2 lengths, and improved again markedly here.
Maftool was a distant second in Saturday's U.A.E. Derby, good for 40 Derby points. Japan's Golden Barows, who is not nominated to the U.S. Triple Crown, was third.
Mubtaahij was handing renowned South African trainer Mike de Kock his sixth U.A.E. Derby. All of his past winners were Southern Hemisphere-bred three-year-olds, however, and therefore past the age limit for the Kentucky Derby.
De Kock is delighted to be living the Derby dream, noting that he'll learn the words to "My Old Kentucky Home" and is ready for a mint julep.