Top jockey Ryan Moore faces Kentucky Derby decision
Mendelssohn, a horse named after the German composer Felix Mendelssohn (1809-47), romped home by 18 lengths in the UAE Derby on Dubai World Cup night and immediately set top jockey Ryan Moore a poser.
Does 34-year-old Moore — regarded as the best jockey on the planet — ride Mendelssohn in the Kentucky Derby on May 5 or stay in the UK to partner the favourite, Saxon Warrior, in the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket run on the same day?
After his Dubai win, Moore said: "The Kentucky Derby is a race on my bucket list, but we’ll have to see what’s best to do closer to the time."
Moore has ridden the Kentucky Derby once before, finishing seventh on Lines Of Battle in 2013. Mendelssohn’s trainer, Aidan O’Brien, is yet to win the famous Churchill Downs race.
Although he did not have a mount in the Dubai World Cup, it was another successful meeting for Moore as he also won the Godolphin Mile on the favourite, Heavy Metal.
Bob Baffert’s hopes of a fourth World Cup were scuppered by France-based jockey Christophe Soumillon, who scored an emphatic win on trainer Saeed bin Suroor’s runner Thunder Snow. Baffert’s West Coast was hot favourite to win the $10m race, but the four-year-old had to settle for second place in the 10-runner field.
Mike de Kock’s two runners, Janoobi and Al Sahem, failed to reach the placings in their races yet this was no great surprise as they were taking on some of the best horses in the world.
Janoobi led the field into the straight in the Dubai Turf but was overhauled, with victory going to another Bin Suroor runner, Benbatl. The four-year-old is now likely to head for Ascot in June.
On the local racing front, Turffontein hosts the SA Classic meeting on Saturday and trainer Paul Peter will be hoping to land the Classic and Fillies Classic with his two runners, Majestic Mambo and Folk Dance. Peter has booked Anthony Delpech for the ride on Majestic Mambo and the three-year-old will be bidding to get back on the winning trail following his surprise no show in the Gauteng Guineas. However, bookmakers only make Majestic Mambo the 9-2 second favourite and the horse that heads the market is Stuart Pettigrew’s talented three-year-old Surcharge.
Pettigrew can be excused for using an expletive when learning Surcharge — badly drawn in the Guineas — had again drawn the widest berth of all in the Classic. It made him consider running the colt in Saturday’s Horse Chestnut Stakes, but in the end he decided to keep his charge with his own age group.
Surcharge is on offer at 22-10 for Saturday’s race, with Royal Crusade a 5-1 chance, followed by Like A Panther, well drawn at gate one, at 6-1 and Noble Secret quoted at the same price.
Gauteng Guineas heroine Takingthepeace is drawn wide in the Fillies Classic, which may have influenced bookmakers to mark up Peter’s filly Folk Dance as early favourite at 7-2. Takingthepeace is the 4-1 second favourite, with another inmate of De Kock’s stable, Silver Thursday, quoted at the same price.
Top jockey Gavin Lerena is expected to be sidelined for six to eight weeks after taking a nasty fall at Turffontein on Saturday. The former champion was admitted to hospital and underwent surgery on Sunday.