Desert Party, who leads the three-strong Godolphin challenge in the $2-million UAE Derby (UAE-II), will go for the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) as long as he runs well March 28 at Nad Al Sheba.
“He has got the right frame of mind and the right profile,” Godolphin racing manager Simon Crisford said. “The most important thing is his frame of mind. He is really professional, and when you are in the level that we are about to start asking him to play at, you have to have that. If you have not got that, then you are on the wrong foot before you start.
“We will wait and see how Desert Party runs (March 28), but obviously we hope he will be good enough for the Kentucky Derby. He gives the impression that a mile and a quarter will be fine for him. He is experienced enough, having had three runs as a 2-year-old in America, with another three runs under his belt this year before going to Churchill Downs.”
Desert Party is by one of Godolphin's greatest performers, Street Cry, who himself only missed out on the 2001 Kentucky Derby because of injury but went on to win the 2002 Dubai World Cup (UAE-I). He was successful in his debut in a maiden event at 4 1/2 furlongs at Arlington Park June 22 last year, and then progressed to win the six-furlong Sanford Stakes (gr. II) at Saratoga about a month later.
Desert Party disappointed when he finished sixth in the seven-furlong Hopeful Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga Sept. 1, but reappeared in a seven-furlong conditions race at Nad Al Sheba Jan.22 and defeated companion Regal Ransom by a half-length.
The 3-year-old colt stepped up to a mile for the UAE 2,000 Guineas (UAE-III) at Nad Al Sheba Feb. 12, and was again the impressive winner over Regal Ransom, with the margin of victory 4 3/4 lengths even though he was eased down in the closing stages.
“We have only had a handful of runners in the Kentucky Derby -- one of whom finished sixth, while the others were not good enough or did not stay the trip,” Crisford said. “Street Cry would have been our top horse for the Kentucky Derby, but he got injured just before the race.
“If Desert Party is aimed at the race, he will ship to Churchill Downs early in April. He will do his quarantine and then start getting used to the track out there. In the Kentucky Derby, he would take on horses who have equally good or better form than he does, so that is going to be the key moment.”
Desert Party is the only Godolphin horse being considered at the moment for the Derby, which is run at 10 furlongs on dirt at Churchill May 2. Midshipman was injured earlier this year, while Vineyard Haven has not thrived so far.
“Midshipman had a soft-tissue injury which seems to be much improved,” Crisford said. “He is in very light training now and is a horse for the second half of the year. He looks fantastic, and we look forward to seeing him back on the track.
“Vineyard Haven did not do well when he got to Dubai. We made a mistake in running him at the Dubai International Racing Carnival, and now we are just giving him the time to do better in himself. When he gets back to America, he will step up a gear. The other horses in our American contingent will depart later in April and be trained as usual at Belmont Park.”
Two Step Salsa and Gayego did well in America last year, and they will return after running in the Godolphin Mile UAE-II) at Nad Al Sheba March 28. “They will both go for the Met Mile (gr. I, May 25) at Belmont Park, all being well,” Crisford said.
Download Brisnet Past Performances for the UAE Derby.