Depending upon on how she performs against males Saturday in the $2 million UAE Derby (UAE-II) at Nal al Sheba, Godolphin Racing’s Folk will likely make her next start in the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) at Churchill Downs May 4, according to Godolphin racing manager Simon Crisford.
Speaking to the media during the annual pre-World Cup open house at Godolphin’s Al Quoz training center Wednesday, March 28, Crisford provided insight into the stable’s plans for this year as several dozen Godolphin horses worked or cantered over the new Tapeta artificial surface at the facility in Dubai.
Questioned about why the filly would be challenging colts at this point, Crisford cited the advantages of Saturday’s race. “The reason why we’re running her is we want to find out how good she is because we couldn’t judge her on her two previous starts against other fillies who were obviously of inferior quality. Most importantly, we feel she genuinely has a good chance to win…She has the right disposition and she has demonstrated serious talent if you go by the clock in her two previous races. But it will just be nice to see her running against better quality horses, which obviously Saturday night that will happen.”
The 3-year-old daughter of Quiet American prepped for Saturday’s effort when she cruised to an easy victory in the UAE Oaks at Nad al Sheba on March 8. In addition to getting a weight allowance as a filly racing against males, Folk gets a weight advantage as do other Northern Hemisphere horses when they compete against Southern Hemisphere foaled 3-year-olds.
While Crisford was very confident that Folk would move forward to her Oaks assignment following the UAE Derby outing, he was less than enthusiastic about the possibility of Godolphin’s highly regarded Day Pass making the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).
“We know he is a good horse…but his stamina has to be suspect,” said Crisford, noting that a mile and not the 1 1/8 miles of the UAE Derby and the 1 1/4 miles of the Kentucky Derby is the Five Star Day colt’s likely ideal distance. “He is a fantastic horse and I am sure he is good enough to run in the Kentucky Derby but I don’t know if he is good enough to win. If he runs well Saturday night, and we think the trip is going to suit him, then he is entitled to take a shot (at the Kentucky Derby). He needs to run well here and he needs to be knocking on the door. Otherwise, there is no need to even think about it.”
Regardless of his Kentucky Derby plans, Day Pass will be returned to the U.S. for the remainder of his 2007 season. Day Pass finished fourth, 8 ½ lengths behind winner Asiatic Boy, in his Nad al Sheba prep for the UAE Derby.
Crisford said he hopes “we can see more this time around than last time around” from Day Pass in the UAE Derby. “He obviously deserves that chance.”
Crisford and trainer Saeed bin Suroor, who oversaw the training regimen during the open house, remained bullish on the chances of undefeated Discreet Cat in the $6-million World Cup, which will have its smallest field in the race’s 11-year history with seven starters. The field is headed by 2006 American Horse of the Year Invasor and also includes top U.S. handicap horse Premium Tap.
“We haven’t been around too many horses like him,” Crisford said. “He’s unbeaten in six races.”
Discreet Cat is currently ranked by a group of international handicappers as the co-second best horse in the world. Invasor topped the 2006 World Thoroughbred Rankings at 129. The Forestry kept his unbeaten record intact with a victory in the Hill ‘n’ Dale Mile (gr. I) at Aqueduct in final time of 1:32 2/5, which equaled the track record. His scheduled return to competition at Nad al Sheba did not transpire after the colt had a slightly elevated temperature on race day, March 1.
Crisford said the Godolphin connections are undeterred by that setback.
“It was slightly frustrating but it wasn’t a massive problem,” Crisford said. “Fitness isn’t really an issue. The only reason we wanted to run him was to knock any freshness out of him. The horse is very tractable and very versatile.”
The Dubai World Cup, with six Thoroughbred races, will be televised by televised by ABC on a delayed basis at 2:30 p.m. (ET).