Godolphin 0-0-0 in 12 trips to Louisville
Some people who bet on sports or horses try to follow streaks. They’ll bet on a hot baseball team, one who has strung together a few wins. Or they will bet against a team that has lost a few games in a row.
The Godolphin Stable is based out of Dubai and has been a prominent force in thoroughbred racing for two decades under the watchful eyes of founder Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the prime minister of the United Arab Emirates.
Godolphin has won nearly every race around the world, but has had less than little success in the Kentucky Derby.
They will take another swing on Saturday with Thunder Snow, the winner of the Grade II UAE Derby in March. Thunder Snow will try to break the long curse of horses shipping over from Dubai that have been unable to do anything over the Churchill Downs oval on the first Saturday in May. In 12 appearances since 2000, horses that have run a race in Dubai have no wins, places or shows in the Kentucky Derby.
“He is a big, strong colt, who is improving all of the time and acts on dirt, and we are looking forward to seeing him take on the best 3-year-olds in America,” trainer Saaed bin Suroor said about Thunder Snow. “The Kentucky Derby is a great race and one of the few major international contests Sheikh Mohammed and Godolphin has yet to win… Thunder Snow is a colt of the highest class and I hope that he can step up in the Kentucky Derby.”
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Thunder Snow edged Japanese star Epicharis in the UAE Derby to earn 100 points and seal his place in the field, though the horse just flew into the USA on Sunday and won’t be able to hit the track until he clears quarantine and might only have a couple of days to get acclimated to the environment, which many critics believe have been Godolphin’s problems in prior Kentucky Derbies. Others think that the horses they’ve been sending over simply haven’t been good enough.
I’m not one of those people.
To be fair, I wasn’t in 2000, either, when I bet on China Visit. Nor was I two years ago when I bet on Mubtaahij, the UAE Derby winner that spring that finished eighth. I have been spending money on Dubai horses since the turn of the century, and this one will get my money as well.
China Visit finished sixth, and bin Suroor has yet to fare better in the race. Frosted ran fourth behind American Pharoah in the Derby two years ago for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, which marked Godolphin’s best finish in the Derby. This is the first time bin Suroor will saddle a horse in the race since 2009.
“The Kentucky Derby is a great race and one of the few major international contests Sheikh Mohammed and Godolphin has yet to win,” said bin Suroor. “Thunder Snow is a colt of the highest class and I hope that he can step up in the Kentucky Derby.”
Classic Empire and Always Dreaming figure to get the majority of the action on the toteboard on Derby Day, and if Thunder Snow can get anything close to 15-to-1, he’ll be worth a significant bet across the board. This is the best of the Godolphin shippers, and the effort against Epicharis was extremely gutty on a track in Dubai that was hardly kind to horses trying to come from behind most of the day. Prior to that, Thunder Snow won by almost six lengths on Feb. 23 in his 3-year old debut after winning a 7-furlong Group 1 race in France last October. His credentials can only be questioned by those who are convinced foreign horses are not built to win in Kentucky.
But don’t be surprised if bin Suroor is walking a horse back to the barn that’s wearing a garland of roses Saturday evening. It would be a nice payback for me as well, after donating a lot of money to Churchill Downs on many of bin Suroor’s losers.