Meet the Contenders: 2023 UAE Derby
Meet the horses running in the 2023 UAE Derby (G2) over 1,900 meters (about 1 3/16 miles) at Meydan in Dubai. For each horse, we're listing a pro, a con, and a rating of potential. The star rating of 1 to 5 represents opportunity to perform well in the UAE Derby field.
Pro: The Saudi Derby (G3) fourth-place finisher was bred on Southern Hemisphere time and is a few months older than his UAE Derby rivals.
Con: He’s slated to carry top weight of 131 pounds, 10 pounds more than the other entrants.
#2 AH JEEZ
Pro: Handled the Meydan dirt when winning a 1,400-meter conditions race last month.
Con: Failed to crack the trifecta in a trio of U.S. graded stakes last year.
Pro: Killavullan (G3) and Patton S. winner arrives in hot form for three-time UAE Derby-winning trainer Aidan O’Brien.
Con: He’s never run on dirt, though his pedigree offers potential for success over the surface.
Pro: Won the Cattleya on the Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby.
Con: Finished behind Es-Unico and Derma Sotogake when fifth in the Saudi Derby (G3) last month.
#5 DERMA SOTOGAKE
Pro: Won the Zen-Nippon Nisai Yushun on the Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby and finished a good third in the Saudi Derby (G3) to kick off 2023.
Con: He’s stepping up against tougher competition.
#6 DURA EREDE
Pro: Upset the prestigious Hopeful (G1) racing 2,000 meters in Japan last December.
Con: His signature victory came on turf, though he’s also 1-for-1 on dirt.
#7 GO SOLDIER GO
Pro: Won the Al Bastakiya over this track and distance three weeks ago.
Con: He’s stepping up significantly in class.
Pro: Exits the Hyacinth on the Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby, which has already produced UAE Derby winners Lani (2016) and Crown Pride (2022).
Con: He finished fifth in the Hyacinth, beaten 5 1/4 lengths by UAE Derby rival Perriere.
Pro: Defeated Go Soldier Go by 4 1/2 lengths to win a conditions race at Meydan two starts back.
Con: Misfired when finishing sixth behind Go Soldier Go in the Al Bastakiya.
#10 MR RAJ
Pro: Hasn’t missed the trifecta in four starts, including three at Meydan.
Con: Lost the Al Bastakiya by a head to Go Soldier Go and is facing tougher competition on Saturday.
Pro: Kicked off 2023 with a comfortable victory in the Hyacinth on the Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby.
Con: Finished third behind Derma Sotogake in the Zen-Nippon Nisai Yushun last December.
#12 TALL BOY
Pro: Showed an affinity for Meydan when breaking his maiden in the U.A.E. Two Thousand Guineas (G3).
Con: Went 0-for-4 in the United States last year.
Pro: Stoutly bred colt exits a good third-place finish in Santa Anita’s Robert B. Lewis (G3) on the Road to the Kentucky Derby.
Con: He’s yet to visit the winner’s circle in three starts.