Essence of Dubai (left, 6) defeats Total Impact in the UAE Derby.

Essence of Dubai (left, 6) defeats Total Impact in the UAE Derby.

AP/Kamran Jebreili

Essence of Dubai Wins UAE Derby by Half-Length

Essence of Dubai kept Godolphin in the Kentucky Derby mix with a half-length victory over Chilean-bred Total Impact in the $2 million UAE Derby (UAE-II) on Saturday at Nad Al Sheba.

The colt surged from the rear of the 14-horse field to win the 1 1/4-mile event by a half length at Nad al Sheba Racecourse. Essence of Dubai, ridden by Frankie Dettori, overtook Chilean-bred Total Impact, with Gary Stevens aboard. The winning time was 2:02.90. Under Frankie Dettori, Essence of Dubai completed the distance in 2:02.90 on a fast track.

With the win, Essence of Dubai remains undefeated as a 3-year-old. Previously this year, the Saeed bin Suroor-trained son of Pulpit won the UAE Two Thousand Guineas by a nose over Firebreak, the latter of whom was 10th in Saturday's Derby. 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). Saturday's win marks his fourth in six career starts.

Norfolk Stakes runner-up Ibn Al Haitham finished third in the UAE Derby, 2 1/4 lengths behind the Laura DeSeroux-trained Total Impact, who was ridden by Gary Stevens.

"That was something, no?" Godolphin stable manager Simon Crisford said. "We always knew he was bred to get the distance, but he had to show it today."

Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, crown prince of Dubai and head of Godolphin Racing, has made no secret of his desire to win the Kentucky Derby.

He decided to lengthen the UAE Derby from 1 1/8 miles to 1 1/4 miles this year to better gauge the stamina of his 3-year-olds, and he had reason to be pleased Saturday. (Chart, Emirates Racing)