Making a decision on what to do with undefeated 3-year-old Conveyance has not been easy for owner Sheikh Rashid, who has been torn between racing the colt in his United Arab Emirates homeland or aiming at the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).
Following Conveyance’s game win the Southwest Stakes (gr. III) at Oaklawn Park, Sheikh Rashid has decided to keep the colt in the United States.
Conveyance’s next assignment probably will be either the Arkansas Derby or the Wood Memorial Stakes (both gr. I), said Omar Trevino, the bloodstock agent who arranged Sheikh Rashid’s private acquisition of the colt this winter and who serves as racing manager for his Zabeel Racing International.
While Sheikh Rashid was weighing the options, Conveyance was given the vaccinations he would need to travel and compete in the $2-million UAE Derby (UAE-II) on the March 27 Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) program, Trevino said. That race would be very meaningful to Sheikh Rashid because it is part of the inaugural World Cup program at Meydan Racecourse. It will be the richest racing day in history with Thoroughbred purses totaling $26 million for seven races.
Yet Sheikh Rashid also is keen to try for the Kentucky Derby, which has long been the top target in racing for his father, Dubai Ruler Sheikh Mohammed. And Sheikh Rashid will not be without horses to carry his silks in Dubai; he has a strong contender for the $10-million World Cup in grade I winner Richard's Kid, who also was acquired by Trevino over the winter.
When Conveyance showed in the Southwest that he relishes dirt racing, the decision became easier. The UAE Derby will be run for the first time on the Tapeta synthetic surface installed at Meydan, and while Conveyance has won three of his four career races on synthetic tracks, he could be even better on dirt.
“Conveyance moves way up on dirt. You can see the explosion—his action is so much better and he has an amazing stride,” Trevino said. “He covers a lot of ground when he moves.”
Trevino, who met with trainer Bob Baffert March 1 while both were in Florida for the Fasig-Tipton Calder 2-year-olds in training sale, said Conveyance has been training well in California since his Southwest victory Feb. 20. He could be sent for his first timed workout since then this weekend.
In addition to his stride and the gameness he showed in turning back a challenge from grade I winner Dublin in the stretch run of the Southwest, Conveyance displays other attributes that are important for classic contenders.
“He doesn’t need the lead, and he’s a very improving specimen. His demeanor is all business—nothing rattles him, and that’s a big thing,” Trevino said.
The Southwest also provided Baffert with a new perspective on Conveyance.
“He proved to me he is ready for the next level, and it threw him into the Derby mix… The way he finished and didn’t cave in was impressive,” Baffert said recently.
Trevino looked at more than 200 2-year-olds last year on behalf of Sheikh Rashid, and Conveyance, who was previously owned by Thoroughbred Legends Racing Stable, emerged as the best prospect.
“He showed me that brilliant speed. To me, he was at the top of the class,” Trevino said. “Right now, he’s a lot of fun for Sheikh Rashid. So far, so good—he’s sound and doing great. And he’s answered every call. It could be a real fun ride to the Derby.”