After racing just off the early pace set by three-time Australian Group 1 winner Helmet, Daddy Long Legs spun out of the far turn and scampered to a landmark victory in the Group $2 million UAE Derby, sponsored by The Saeed and Mohammed Al Naboodah Group, a first-ever win in Dubai for champion Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien. (Image: Watkins/DRC)
"We’re delighted,” said a beaming O’Brien after being greeted by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai in the winner’s enclosure.
Daddy Long Legs rolled under the finish line in 1:58.35 for the 1,900m over the all-weather track that some jockeys said had been playing slow after a hot afternoon. He held a 1 ¼ length margin over French-based runner Yang Tse Kiang.
There was even more to celebrate in the O’Brien camp as 2011 Group 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf winner Wrote finished third, just three-quarters of a length behind the runner-up and 1 ¼ lengths in front of Mickdaam, who had won the Listed Al Bastikiya over course and distance on March 10.
O’Brien said his plan in bringing Daddy Long Legs and Wrote to Dubai for the UAE Derby was to measure their potential for the Group 1 Kentucky Derby. Both colts ran well enough for further consideration.
“He was a good colt last year and obviously this was his first run of this season. He jumped and he traveled well,” O’Brien said of Daddy Long Legs, who won the Group 2 Royal Lodge Stakes in England last year before finishing 12th in the Group 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs.
“Obviously both ran lovely races tonight—Wrote just got a little tired in the final 50 yards,” O’Brien continued of the UAE Derby finish. “We’ll speak to the lads, but I would think (Daddy Long Legs) would be a strong possibility (for the Kentucky Derby).”
Jockey Colm O’Donoghue was jubilant, raising his arms above his head as he entered the winner’s enclosure.
“He competed against the best today and he showed how good he is,” O’Donoghue said. “Hopefully, he can keep improving from this. I think he can.”
Helmet set fractions of :26.13, :50.54 and 1:15.19 before tiring and finishing 12th in the 14-horse field. The two colts who had been campaigned in North America, Team Valor International’s Lucky Chappy and Canadian stakes winner Maritimer were unable to make an impact, with Lucky Chappy finishing seventh and Maritimer 11th.
The race marked the first-ever running of the UAE Derby that was not won by Godolphin’s Saeed bin Suroor, who did not have a runner this year, or South Africa’s Mike de Kock, who saddled Mickdaam.
Post Race Quotes from the Group 2 US$2 million UAE Derby, sponsored by The Saeed and Mohammed Al Naboodah group
Colm O’Donoghue (Daddy Long Legs, 1st) – “Had a dream run in second. He quickened really well. It’s a great training effort by Aidan (O’Brien) to win this in his first run of the season against horses who were already primed and at their best. Hopefully he can keep improving from this. I think he can.”
Thierry Jarnet (Yang Tse Kiang, 2nd) – “They went a good pace. My horse followed easily, travelling all right and coming into the straight, I slowly took him to the outside and he did everything he could. It’s like a victory for us and I’m very happy for the trainer.”
Ryan Moore (Wrote, 3rd) – “I had a decent position. Just felt like he might have forward a bit better in the straight. I suppose it was a decent third.”
Christophe Soumillon (Mickdaam, 4th) – “He wasn’t ready when the starter let them go. The horse next to him came over and crashed into him. He lost any chance.”
Tom Queally (Red Duke, 5th) – “It went OK. We are happy enough with our run.”
John Quinn (trainer, Red Duke, 5th) – “He ran well and was there at the head of the stretch but it may just be that he wants to come back to a mile.”
Christophe Lemaire (Balada Sale, 6th) – “She went well but maybe she needed the race, she hasn’t run for a long time. I had to give her a chance around the last turn but she stayed in 6th or 7th place. She should improve.”
Alan Garcia (Lucky Chappy, 7th) – “I expected him to pick up but the horse wasn’t himself today. It was not the surface.”
Graham Motion (trainer, Lucky Chappy, 7th) – “He didn’t have that punch that he had at Golden Gate. He came steady but didn’t have that kick that he had back home. I thought if he ran back to the race at Golden Gate, he’d have a chance to hit the board. I’m disappointed.”
Kieren Fallon (Burano, 8th) – “The race went well and turning for home I was getting excited but he didn’t finish. He didn’t act on the surface as well as he would have on grass.”
Frankie Dettori (Kinglet, 9th) – “He wasn’t good enough. It’s been a long season and perhaps he was a bit tired.”
Glyn Schofield (Martimer, 11th) – “The race went perfectly. I had a good spot just on the outside of the winner. He travelled sweetly and ran his race.”
Kerrin McEvoy (Helmet, 12th) – “Just disappointed. He didn’t switch off 100 percent in front. Therefore just tired on his finishing.”
Richard Hills (Entifaadha, 13th) – “He over-raced early and didn’t finish.”
Craig Williams (Genten, 14th) – “He got a position and found his rhythm. The distance is a bit long for him and he got a kick back from the different track.”