Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum's Mubtaahij will bid to win the final jewel of the United Arab Emirates Triple Crown March 28 in the $2 million S&M Al Naboodah Group UAE Derby (gr. II) on the Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) undercard at Meydan.
Trainer Mike de Kock sent out the son of Dubawi for a victory on Super Saturday, March 7, in the second jewel, the Al Bastakiya, in which he ended the 10-race unbeaten record of Godolphin's Uruguayan Horse of the Year Sir Fever, who was second, 2 1/2 lengths back, for trainer Saeed bin Suroor.
"We were pretty confident before Super Saturday," de Kock said. "We knew the step up in trip would really suit him and he won the Al Bastakiya well. This is a stronger race with two or three big dangers, but our horse is fit, well and proven under the conditions."
Mubtaahij is the highest-rated horse in the 10-horse field for the UAE Derby, a 1,900-meter (about 1 3/16-mile) race that awards 100 points to the winner in the "Road to the Kentucky Derby" standings. In the first race of the UAE classic series, he was runner-up to Godolphin's Maftool in the UAE Two Thousand Guineas (UAE-III) Feb. 12.
Both Godolphin runners reoppose in the UAE Derby.
Maftool, a son of Hard Spun who is trained by Charlie Appleby, captured the Tattersalls Somerville Stakes (Eng-III) last September at Newmarket among three wins from seven career stars. He was third to Mubtaahij in a conditions race his 2015 debut Jan. 15 at Meydan and has not raced since the Guineas.
"In my opinion he was short a workout heading into that race and he ran like he was short," trainer Eoin Harty said. "The schedule didn't go according to plan."
Prior to the Tampa Bay Derby, My Johnny Be Good was third in the Sam F. Davis Stakes (gr. III) Jan. 31 at Tampa Bay in his season's opener. He compiled a 2-1-1 record from four starts as a juvenile.
Harty watched from the Meydan grandstand as My Johnny Be Good drilled a quarter-mile under exercise rider Nick Bush March 23. Harty clocked the son of Colonel John in ":47 and change."
"He galloped out good," Harty said. "He shipped over well and has been doing well since he got here. I've been here plenty of times so I know what works, or at least I think I do."
Mubtaahij, Maftool, and My Johnny Be Good were among the 429 horses made eligible to the U.S. Triple Crown series during the early nomination period.
To access entries for the Dubai World Cup card, click here.