UAE Derby 2021 Preview: Appleby's Rebel's Romance Looks Smart

Trainer Doug O'Neill and Reddam Racing have another young colt that is trying to take the purple and white silks back to the Kentucky Derby... See what kind of chances they have against Charlie Appleby's entry... in this year's edition of the Group 2 UAE Derby. KYD Points are on the line!
Trainer Doug O'Neill and Reddam Racing have another young colt that is trying to take the purple and white silks back to the Kentucky Derby... See what kind of chances they have against Charlie Appleby's entry... in this year's edition of the Group 2 UAE Derby. KYD Points are on the line!

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There are many paths to the Kentucky Derby, but they are dwindling as we head into April. The Dubai World Cup Carnival is a “last ditch” opportunity. Specifically, the Group 2 UAE Derby represents one of the last for Outside-the-U.S. runners to earn that all-important ticket to Churchill Downs. At stake are points that include… 100-40-20-10, which are slated for those that finish 1st through 4th. The 1 3/16th Dirt distance is specially structured in preparation for the “Run for the Roses.”

This year’s race has some interesting angles, coupled with a nice field of 14 runners. What is most impressive is that this is not just a European or Middle Eastern-based group of 3-yr-olds that are drawn in here. Rather, it also includes a strong Japanese contingent that looks accomplished. Leading that charge is Pink Kamehameha (JPN) #9 (PP#14). If you watched his performance in the Saudi Derby, then you know this one was awfully sharp down the lane. Though Steve Asmussen’s Cowan tried to make a late charge, it was all "Pink K" with jockey Keita Tosaki aboard for trainer Hideyuki Mori. If this colt can put together another effort like that one, he will be very tough to catch.

Backing “Pink K” is my "second choice" because I really like the look of Rebel’s Romance #10 (PP#11) from the able-bodied barn of Charlie Appleby. This entry owned by Godolphin, was 4th in the Saudi Derby to “Pink K,” and his effort before that at Meydan was a win. I like the fact that he already has a win over the track, which speaks to the point that he could take to it again. Going longer is going to be the major challenge, as this son of Dubawi has only contested 2 races, and both were at a mile. Still… when Appleby and Buick get together, they form a powerful punch that rivals Gosden-Dettori and O’Brien-Moore. Lately, even those pairings cannot stop them.

Aside from those 2 picks, the lone American entry comes from Doug O’Neill’s Stable, and Ambivalent #2 (PP#8) is not without promise. Owned by Reddam Racing, who knows about winning races, he could be a major overlay. This group was behind both O’Neill’s Derby victories with I’ll Have Another and Nyquist. They know racing, and so does O’Neill. Sending a colt like this one to the other side of the planet takes moxie, and maybe this son of Constitution will have what it takes to outlast them all. It is going to take a massive effort, especially considering he is moving from a MSW61k race on the turf going to 6F into this hornet’s nest. Trust in O’Neill would be a mantra that comes to mind… but also, the fact the Luis Saez will be donning the distinctive white and purple silks, reflects a certain cache of respect. His riding abilities continue to reach new heights.

I want to play an Exacta Wheel with these 3 runners. They all offer promise for different reasons, whether it be class, connections, or an affinity for the course. In the end, this contest is going to be a cracker to watch. May the best colt win!

WAGER RECOMMENDATION… Exacta Wheel: 9/10 w 2/9/10

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