Mendelssohn left no doubt he is one of the best 3-year-olds in the world with an absolutely stunning victory in track record time in the 19th edition of the US $2 million UAE Derby sponsored by Saeed & Mohammed Al Naboodah Group on what was his first attempt at running on the dirt.
The son of Scat Daddy, who was a US $3 million purchase as a yearling and is owned by the Coolmore connections of Derrick Smith, Mrs. John Magnier and Michael Tabor, broke alertly and was among the early pacesetters through the first 400m of the 1900m test.
When the field entered the far turn, and with jockey Ryan Moore never having to ask him, Mendelssohn separated himself from the other eight 3-year-olds in the field and drew away down the lane to win by an ever-widening 18.5 lengths. Rayya, the only filly in the field and carrying 2kg less, was second and Reride was another three lengths behind in third.
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The impressive win by Mendelssohn, who won the Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf in 2017, carried 100 qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby (G1) and guarantees him a spot in the starting gate for the first leg in the American Triple Crown to be run on the first Saturday in May.
The final time was a track record 1:55.18.
“We are over the moon,” said trainer Aidan O’Brien, who won the UAE Derby for the third time.
“He came forward lovely from his run at Dundalk a few weeks ago. He is bred to handle the dirt, being by Scat Daddy. But that was an unbelievable performance. We weren’t sure how he would handle the distance but you have to say he saw it out pretty well.
“He is naturally quick and has a lot of tactical early speed. He did it the hard way but he did it so easily. He is very well bred, he has a great physique and you can see why he cost the lads a lot of money at the sales. We will look forward to going to Kentucky with him now. He is a terrific horse, really very exciting. ”
The colt picked up 100 points as the race is a Road to the Kentucky Derby point race.
MV Magnier, representing the owners of Mendelssohn, said: “To win by nearly 20 lengths in track record time is something that nobody could imagine.”
Jockey Ryan Moore, who won his second UAE Derby, was equally impressed, saying: “He’s a high-class horse, a Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf winner, and now he’s done it here. You’d have to go a long way to see a better performance than that. He’s a horse with a lot of speed, he still feels like there’s more physical improvement in him, there’s more strengthening to come, he’s going to get better. He’s grown up a lot, but he’s still learning and he’s trained by a genius.”
Asked about the Kentucky Derby, Moore said: “He’s got a beautiful pedigree, he’s got the form, he races forward and there’s plenty of experience now. But that’s a different thing, a hard race with more runners, you can’t compare it to today.”
The order of finish was completed by Gold Town, Seahenge, Taiki Ferveur, Yulong Warrior, Ruggero, and Threeandfourpence.
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