McPeek Sizes Up the Competition in Dubai

Trainer Kenny McPeek, who conditions early Kentucky Derby (gr. I) favorites Harlan's Holiday and Repent, has jetted all the way to Dubai, where he will be able to evaluate the competition from Godolphin Racing while enjoying a holiday off the Derby trail.

Godolphin will send out six colts in the $2-million United Arab Emirates Derby (UAE-II) on Saturday at 1 1/4 miles, with the stable's Essence of Dubai the favorite and perhaps Godolphin's strongest hope for the Kentucky Derby. Essence of Dubai breezed five furlongs on Wednesday at Godolphin's private Al Quoz training center during an open house that McPeek attended with his wife, Sue.

McPeek said he was invited to attend the Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) program by Godolphin's bloodstock adviser, John Ferguson, and the invitation held firm even though he opted not to ship Repent over for the UAE Derby, as he had pondered.

Sue McPeek, said the couple is enjoying their vacation at one of Dubai's most luxurious hotels as well as their luck of having two strong Kentucky Derby contenders.

"We look at each other every once in a while and say, 'Can you believe this?' " she said.
McPeek said he plans to send Repent to the Illinois Derby (gr. II) at Sportsman's Park for his last prep before the Run for the Roses at Churchill Downs, while Harlan's Holiday will contest the Blue Grass Stakes (gr.I) at Keeneland on April 13.

His assistant, Helen Pitts, is overseeing the care of the two colts while McPeek is in Dubai.