Kentucky Derby 2020 Radar: Baffert has one for UAE Derby

December 11, 2019 09:10am
Not to be lost in trainer Bob Baffert’s monster weekend at Los Alamitos was the maiden win on Saturday by R R R Racing’s Ra’ad, a $500,000 auction purchase earlier this year who will look to qualify for the 2020 Kentucky Derby overseas.

Tasked with going six furlongs in his second career start, Ra’ad raced greenly on the outside while tracking a quick opening quarter-mile of :21.60 set by the aptly named Phast Pharoah. The pacesetter continued on a clear lead through an opening half mile in :45.15, with Drayden Van Dyke continuing work to get Ra’ad focused on business. 

“At any time he never looked like a winner,” Baffert said. “Down the backside, on the turn. He had his head up looking around. Drayden came back and said, ‘Man, he was looking around everywhere.’"

Phast Pharoah continued to motor into the stretch, but at about the three-sixteenths pole Ra’ad began to make headway. Still three lengths back with a furlong to go, Ra’ad drew on even terms with Phast Pharoah and drew off in the final 100 yards to win by two lengths. Phast Pharoah crossed the wire seven lengths clear of the third-place horse.

It was Baffert’s fifth win on the card, tying the single-day record for a trainer on the Southern California circuit.

“He won on raw talent,” Baffert said. “He looked like he wasn't running at the top of the stretch. He was green and goofing around. By that time, I was thinking about getting a fifth win, not the horse breaking a maiden.

"At the top of the stretch, I remember saying, oh he's not running. Son of a gun. And my wife said that horse [Phast Pharoah] is gone. But you forget how long that stretch is. It’s forever. Then he kicked in and I said, son of a gun, we’re going to get the fifth.”

R R R Racing is the nom de course of Sheikh Rashid Humaid Al Noaimi, who is the ruler of the emirate of Ajman in the United Arab Emirates. He is a new owner in the game with just 21 starts on the year as of Dec. 9.

“He’s a young sheikh and a really nice guy,” Baffert said. “He trusted me to buy some horses for him. It’s a long way off, but he would like to go to the Dubai [UAE] Derby.”

The UAE Derby (G2) will be contested March 28 at 1 3/16 miles at Meydan Race Course. It is a major points-earning prep for the Kentucky Derby with 100 points to the winner and 40 points to the runner-up.

Despite racing green, Ra’ad completed six furlongs in 1:10.12 on a sealed track that quickened as the card progressed. The effort earned a 71 Beyer Speed Figure.

Ra’ad debuted Oct. 26 at Santa Anita Park, where he was no match on the day for Thousand Words, who on Saturday came back to win the Los Alamitos Futurity (G2) earlier on the card.

Ra’ad may have tipped his hand for start No. 2, however, when on Nov. 25 he and Thousand Words matched strides in a bullet five-furlong drill from the gate completed in :59.20.

“He actually worked with Thousand Words and worked heads up with him,” Baffert said. “Everybody says he outworked him. He didn't outwork him. It was even. So he worked pretty well with him and that made us comfortable. He’s just a little immature, but he’ll get it.”

Baffert said Ra’ad would likely make two more local starts before a potential trip to Dubai.


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About the Derby Radar

Back for the 2020 Kentucky Derby trail, Horse Racing Nation's Derby Radar seeks to identify promising maiden, allowance and even stakes winners who could target points-paying preps down the line. We'll cover the buzz horses, of course, then using a systematic approach based on past years' Derby contenders identify other talented colts moving up the ladder.

Did we miss one? Email editor Jonathan Lintner ( if you know of a horse that should be on the radar.

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