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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Why I’m Not Feeling The Love In Love Dubai

In response to a commenter puzzled as why I was appalled by Love Dubai back running in the Blue Grass Stakes one week after his dismal performance in the Illinois Derby, let me elaborate a bit more on my thinking—from an educated fan’s point of view, not a trainer, handler or any other kind of insider. Admittedly, that may put me at a disadvantage, and I would love to hear other opinions on this, but, in this particular situation, I don’t believe a little applied logic and common sense rationalism are without merit. I could be very wrong, and I guess we will find out on Saturday, but here it goes.

The owners of Love Dubai, (Ron Peltz, president), have a website where they state:

Running in the Illinois Derby we had our UK import, Love Dubai, who was coming off of a 3 race win streak on the polytrack in the UK. There were however, a number of factors against him in this race that he just could not overcome. Being that this was his first start back since his last win on January 29th in England, combined with an outside post position, a slow brake and a ton of dirt getting kicked in his face which he did not relish, caused jockey Miguel Mena to use all the good sense he had and let Love Dubai run this race as if it were a schooling race. We believe he learned a great deal and since it took absolutely nothing out of him, he will start next in the Toyota Bluegrass Stakes on April 14th. Love Dubai's last win was at the distance of a mile and a quarter making him the only horse in AMERICA with a victory already at the Classic distance!

I wish I had a pair of those rose-colored glasses! I can appreciate that horses were historically, and still are being run on a weekly basis; I often see these kinds of horses running at Charles Town, Mountaineer and even Philly Park, but I think you would agree it is somewhat unusual at this particular level of elite competition and at this young age. Love Dubai does have more racing experience than some three year olds do, albeit against much lesser competition (in eight career starts, with three wins, one place and one show, he has earned only $38,710). He has done well on the polytrack in England, and that may be to his advantage in Keeneland, but his winning times have been less than impressive. His last race in England on January 29 was 1-1/4 mile allowance race that he 2:07.2. No Derby horse has won going that slow since Hoop Jr. in 1945. Compare his finish time in a 1-1/16 mile race (1:50.2) with not even Street Sense (1:43) or Great Hunter (1:42.4), but Time Squared (1:45.3) and Zanjero as a maiden winner last October (1:44). Based on these facts, one could hypothesize that Love Dubai is woefully overmatched. Just because he has already won a race at the "classic distance" of 1-1/4 mile does not mean he should be placed in the same class as true Derby contenders.

Unless your sole goal is to earn enough graded earnings to get into the Kentucky Derby, why enter him at races at this level? There are plenty of top-notch allowances and lower level stakes races at the current Keeneland meet where he could be competitive. Instead, he is being placed back into a race against higher quality competitors just shortly after his jockey used the Illinois Derby as a “schooling race”. Wow, that's a masterful spin story if I ever heard one! Again, I could be completely wrong (I will publically admit so if proven), but in my humble opinion, his connections obviously have what my fellow TBA blogger Left at the Gate calls Derby Delirium. If I were an owner, my dream would be to have a Derby horse, but not at the expense of his health, and these connections already have a spotty history in this regard, i.e. one-time claimer With a City who was euthanized due to an "unknown disease" after finishing last, 50 lengths behind the winner in last year’s Arkansas Derby [article here] Fellow TBA blogger Curb My Enthusiasm has an excellent commentary here about With a City, and here and here on Love Dubai, all of which I discovered after exploring the situation a bit more. What I’ve read, makes me even more concerned for this animal. As I said, I hope I am wrong.


Michael said...

I hope I'm wrong too.

rather rapid said...

I know nothing about Love Dubai or his connections, which is why I carefully qualified my comment that whether this entry is to be feared depends on the training. Obviously, as you've noted, they've left themselves open to criticism due to their unconventional approach. Another thought would be that they think they've got a Derby horse and this might be their last chance. The red flag here is the horse last raced in January. Good blog! Keep up the nice work!