Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Mubtaahij Makes American Debut in Derby

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Mubtaahij Makes American Debut in Derby

Article excerpt

Mubtaahij makes American debut

In terms of international flavor, Mubtaahij and the Kentucky Derby seem made for each other.

Intrigue abounds about Mubtaahij (pronounced Moob-tah-heej), the Irish-born son of Dubawi owned by Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum and trained by South African Mike de Kock. Not just because he is all things international he'll race beneath Belgian jockey Christophe Soumillon but Churchill Downs will be Mubtaahij's debut on American soil.

If that's not enough, in addition to being the horse's longest distance so far, the 1 -mile Derby also features the most competitors (19) he'll face.

"A few mint juleps might help," de Kock joked Tuesday about the challenge ahead.

Good line, but a few of the Derby's signature cocktails couldn't hurt.

Wednesday's post-position draw put Mubtaahij in the No. 6 spot, and the hope is a performance that ends with a crash course learning "My Old Kentucky Home" in the winner's circle.

Mubtaahij has provided plenty of toasting opportunities back in Dubai.

He has four wins and a second-place finish in his last five races in Dubai after starting his career with a pair of also-ran showings in Great Britain.

His eight-length victory over 1 3/16 miles in the 10-horse UAE Derby in March earned 100 Derby qualifying points and sixth place in the standings. The Grade 2 victory symbolized the comfort zone Mubtaahij found at the palatial Meydan Racecourse in the United Arab Emarites and convinced de Kock and the connections to seek racing's holy grail.

De Kock has succeeded in limited chances on North American soil, winning the 2000 Skip Away Stakes with Horse Chestnut and finishing second in the 2008 Breeders' Cup Turf with Eagle Mountain.

Churchill Downs is a different place, and earning the blanket of roses won't be easy in a full Derby field where International Star, Dortmund, Carpe Diem, American Pharoah and Frosted stand ahead of Mubtaahij, who's tied with Materiality in points. …

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