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by Geir Stabell / Globeform
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Meydan: A race totally dominated by Godolphin trainer Saeed bin Surror and South Africana champion trainer Mike de Kock over the years, the UAE Derby (G2) is shaping up to be a good contest again this time. And it could, once more, boil down to a battle between the two powerhouse stables. Godolphin's top contender is Secret Number, a strong looking winner of the Al Bastakiya (LR) on Super Saturday.

Making his first start of the year, and only his second overall, this colt created a most favourable impression by winning the main prep for the Derby, run over the same over 1900 metres as the $2 million classic, here at Meydan three weeks prior to World Cup night. He will face an even bigger task in the Derby of course, but Secret Number should improve for his seasonal debut, when he gained vital experience, and does look the one to beat.

Secret Number outstayed Zahee and Snowboarder in the Al Bastakiya, where he was a little bit keen at the midway stage of the race but otherwise ran much like a seasoned horse. But for missing the start and losing ground from the outset, this attractive son of Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) winner Raven's Pass did just about everything right. Jockey Kieren Fallon guided him smoothly ahead on the outside of the field (he started from the outside gate and was forced rather wide on the first turn) and Secret Number dropped nicely a couple of paths in when they were rounding the home turn. He travelled well enough, though under driving, just a few lengths behind the leaders at this point, and his relentless gallop in the home straight made him a 2-length winner over Zahee. It was his superior stamina that won him the race. Another Godolphin runner, Snowboarder, was 1 lengths further adrift in third. Snowboarder and Zahee had filled second and third, in the that order, behind Soft Falling Rain in the UAE 2,000 Guineas.

It seems clear that Secret Number already is on a par with Soft Falling Rain. If so, he probably is a serious racehorse in the making. One big plus point. possesses more stamina than Soft Falling Rain. Which is a bit against his pedigree actually, as Secret Number's sire was a miler in Europe and his two high class half-brothers, Dubai Destination and Librettist, were also milers. Dubai Destination, who cost $1,5 million as a yearling, is best remembered for his win in the Queen Anne Stakes (G1) at Royal Ascot ten years ago, while Librettist completed what has traditionally been a very difficult double when winning the Prix Jacques le Marois (G1) and Prix du Moulin (G1) in France in 2006. The dam of these stars, Mysterial (Alleged), is a half-sister to Japanese top sprinter Agnes World, who won the July Cup (G1) at in Newmarket in England and the Prix de l'Abbaye (G1) at Longchamp in France.

Secret Number is related to speedy horses but he stays well himself, there can be no question about that.

Last update: 2013-03-23 06:25:35 (First published: 2013-03-12 08:31:06 )

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