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Derma Sotogake won the 2023 UAE Derby (G2) at Meydan Racecourse in Dubai for jockey Christophe Lemaire, trainer Hidetaka Otonashi, and owner Hiroyuki Asanuma. Both he and runner-up Dura Erede, both based in Japan, earned enough points to qualify for the 2023 Kentucky Derby (G1), but would either horse pose a serious threat in that race? Tell us YOUR thoughts in the Comments section!
Derma Sotogake lined up a shot at the Kentucky Derby as he made every step of the UAE Derby in a 1900m contest dominated by Japanese horses.
Trained by Hidetaka Otonashi, owned by Hiroyuki Asanuma and ridden with supreme confidence by Christophe Lemaire, the chestnut won unchallenged by five and a half lengths from Dura Erede.
Japanese runners filled the four places with another four lengths back to Continuar in third and three and a half more back to Perriere in fourth.
Derma Sotogake, however, really impressed and was stepping up in distance from his third-placed finish in the Saudi Derby over a mile last month when he finished a never-nearer third.
Trainer Otonashi confirmed that Derma Sotogake would indeed travel to Kentucky direct from Dubai for the Run for the Roses on the first Saturday in May at Churchill Downs.
He said: “It’s my first time here and Derma Sotogake is my first ever runner. Now, I have one runner and one winner – it doesn’t get much better than that!
“We didn’t exactly plan to go straight to the lead but but he broke well. We were expecting him to improve and go well but you can never expect things to go that well. We had a different jockey and different ground so you can never be sure how well it works out, but it did.
“He will go straight to Kentucky from Dubai. We’ll discuss it but Christophe will probably keep it – he said he would anyway!”
Jockey Lemaire added: “He can break a little slowly so it was important he began well to use his gate on the rail and he did just that. He travelled nicely on the lead and he relaxed for me down the back stretch. He was still moving smoothly for me as we came into the home stretch and once I pressed the button he was very impressive and I could enjoy the finish on him.
“I hope he goes to America and I would love to ride him there. How could anyone refuse that?”
Dura Erede (2nd), jockey Cristian Demuro said: “He ran very well and he’s been beaten by a very, very good horse. His last two runs were on turf but he seemed to handle the dirt before. I’ve not ridden him before but the dirt didn’t seem to bother him at all.”
Perriere (4th), jockey Oisin Murphy said: “The distance was the problem. I wish I sat where Ryan was, just following the winner. I did not want to use his energy early and leave nothing for the finish.”
Go Soldier Go (5th), jockey Adrie de Vries said: “He always needs time to get into his stride and we got a bit far back. I had to get him out of the kickback before we started making a run. A lot of horses stopped in the dirt and I had to go very wide. He ran his race and beat the same horses as last time.”
Es-Unico (7th), trainer Antonio Cintra said: “Joao Moreira said he just didn’t have the same power as before. That’s it.”
Lahresh (8th), jockey Mickael Barzalona said: “He was slow out of the gates.”
Cairo (10th), jockey Ryan Moore said: “It was his first run on dirt and he just didn’t enjoy himself.”
Worcester (11th), jockey Frankie Dettori said: “I fluffed the start and struggled from then on.”
Ah Jeez (13th), jockey Tyler Gaffalione said: “I got him into a good rhythm but he faced the dirt [kickback] for the first time and didn’t like it.”
Winning time: 01:55.81 (race record 01:55.19)
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