Kentucky Derby contender Essence of Dubai walks off van at Keeneland's quarantine barn.

Kentucky Derby contender Essence of Dubai walks off van at Keeneland's quarantine barn.

Anne M. Eberhardt

Essence of Dubai, Oaks Contenders in Kentucky

Kentucky Derby contender Essence of Dubai and Kentucky Oaks hopefuls Tempera and Imperial Gesture arrived safely in Kentucky on Wednesday.

Essence of Dubai, the leading earner by graded stakes purses among Kentucky Derby contenders, and his stablemates arrived at Louisville International Airport shortly after noon. Accompanied by a stable pony, the Godolphin Racing contingent was vanned to Keeneland Racecourse in Lexington, Ky. The horses will return to Louisville on Friday after undergoing quarantine.

As soon as the van carrying the Godolphin horses arrived at Keeneland, a half-dozen vehicles carrying USDA and private equine veterinarians and officials of Mersant International shipping company descended upon the quarantine barn.

The light-colored stable pony was first off the van, followed by Essence of Dubai, Tempera, and Imperial Gesture.

Dr. Cristina Garciacantu, a veterinarian who accompanied the horses from Dubai, said there were no problems on the flight, which included a stop at England's Stanstead Airport.

Essence of Dubai remains undefeated as a 3-year-old, having won the UAE Derby and UAE Two Thousand Guineas. Last year, Essence of Dubai won the Norfolk Stakes (gr. II) and finished third in the Best Pal Stakes (gr. III) before concluding his season with a 12th-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I). He has won four of six career starts.

Tempera, the North American champion 2-year-old filly of 2001, won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies. Imperial Gesture, who finished second in the Juvenile Fillies, turned the tables on her stablemate by winning the UAE Oaks.