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UAE Derby the Gold ticket to Kentucky

J A McGrath

Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby is adamant that the answer to the question: ‘Will Gold Town run in the Kentucky Derby?’ can be provided emphatically at Meydan on Saturday.

The three-year-old gelding faces eight rivals in the G2 UAE Derby, over 1,900m (nine and a half furlongs) on dirt, which will provide the sternest test of his career.

Among his opposition is the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf winner Mendelssohn, who recently enjoyed a prep race at the Irish track Dundalk which he duly won quite comfortably.

“We are all going to find out at the same time whether Gold Town will be going to Kentucky,” Appleby explained.

“This is his chance to book his ticket. He needs the points from the UAE Derby to get to Churchill Downs.

“He was a useful two-year-old, but gelding him has brought him forward more.

“He ticks all the boxes coming into the UAE Derby. I think the step up in trip is going to suit him, and I hope the ‘home’ advantage at Meydan will be something he can exploit.

“His draw (gate five) is good, and I expect there to be pace early,” he added.

Gold Town, winner of four of his eight starts, has been a revelation on the Meydan dirt. He won the UAE 2,000 Guineas Trial, over 1400m, by four and a quarter lengths and then took the G3 UAE 2,000 Guineas by 10 and a half lengths.

He had previously been unplaced on synthetic at Newcastle in the UK earlier in his career, but the opposition was strong and the son of Street Cry lacked experience.

Appleby has been pleasantly surprised by the improvement Gold Town has shown in Dubai.

“We saw a better performance in the 2,000 Guineas Trial, but the Guineas itself was a game changer. We were a little surprised on the back of what he had done in Europe, but we are all on the same page now,” he added.

Appleby regards the Aidan O’Brien-trained Mendelssohn as the biggest threat to Gold Town in the UAE Derby. 

“If we win, we are looking at Kentucky for Gold Town, if we get beat, then we will regroup,” the Godolphin trainer added.