Siding with maturity in UAE Derby, potential in Spiral

Profile Picture: Vance Hanson

March 24th, 2017

For those concerned about the early 9:25 a.m. (EDT) post time for the $2 million UAE Derby (G2) on Saturday morning, rest assured there's ample time to get your $25,000 Kentucky Derby Dream Bet wagers in as will offer advance wagering on the entire Dubai World Cup program all day Friday.

In addition to the UAE Derby, Saturday's other Derby prep offering is the $500,000 Spiral (G3) at Turfway Park, while Sunday features the $800,000 Sunland Park Derby (G3).

A reminder to those participating in the contest to play all three races and pad your total for an opportunity to win Qualifying Round Prizes. More information on the contest and prizes can be found here.

We'll punt our Sunland Park selection for later and concentrate on the UAE Derby and Spiral for now.

UAE Derby: A tough race to get a handle on, the Derby has contenders from Dubai, Europe, the U.S., Japan, Brazil and Argentina. Early favorite Thunder Snow, if he runs back to his effort in the UAE 2000 Guineas (G3), perhaps wins for fun. However, Japanese invader Epicharis is relatively seasoned as well as undefeated, while Fly At Dawn and Bee Jersey have room for improvement.

Despite the fact South American form often doesn't carry over into other parts of the world, He Runs Away (#11, 50-1) offers some advantages. Technically age four having been foaled in July in Argentina, he has a maturity edge over everyone and has already run beyond about 1 3/16 miles (today's distance) three times, and proving himself one of the best of his age group in Argentina.

While many in this field were just getting their careers started or were still awhile away from their first race, He Runs Away was winning the Gran Premio Jockey Club (G1) at 1 1/4 miles on the turf and the Gran Premio Nacional (G1) at 1 9/16 miles on the dirt in back-to-back starts last fall. He then started as the favorite against older rivals in the Gran Premio Carlos Pellegrini (G1), South America's equivalent of the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (G1) over 1 1/2 miles on turf, finishing a solid fourth despite being a hampered a bit in deep stretch. Both the winner and runner-up in the Pellegrini came back to win Group 1s in their next starts.

Invasor was a notable South American who ran below-par in the UAE Derby before going on to a Hall of Fame career in the U.S. That's not to compare He Runs Away with Invasor, who was undefeated in seven starts heading into the 2006 Derby, but just to show that a diamond probably good enough to win this race on his best day has the potential to emerge from that part of the world. I'll take a chance at fat odds.

Spiral: Favorite Kitten's Cat looks awfully tough with a replication of his recent form, but Parlor (#9, 5-1) has made few mistakes in three starts thus far. A debut winner versus Kitten's Cat over the Ellis Park turf last summer (Kitten's Cat ran 3 3/4 lengths third), Parlor then narrowly missed by a neck when runner-up in the $342,000 Kentucky Downs Juvenile after a troubled trip.

Rested until February 22, Parlor got back on the winning track against entry-level allowance foes at Tampa Bay Downs, winning by 1 3/4 lengths. This son of Lonhro obviously has talent, especially on turf, and the only question is whether he'll transfer that form to Polytrack. I'll take a chance he does if anywhere near his morning line price.