I’m not really sure what to think of the results of the Kentucky Derby Challenge Stakes that was run at Kempton Park on Wednesday. Quite possibly, part of my indecision could be a direct result writing most of this blog during the wee small hours of the morning. More likely than not, however, it’s because the result of the race leaves me asking even more questions, rather than having any definitive answers.
How much significance will the result of this ‘conditions’ race (basically on par with an allowance race here in the States) have on the “greatest two minutes in sports”? Keep in mind that not only was this race run over a synthetic surface, but also on a right-handed course….whereas Churchill Downs is a dirt racetrack that runs counter-clockwise.
The quality of the field left much to be desired, too. While it was a decent field, none of the contestants really had much on their resumes.
The winner, Mafaaz, does have the earmarks of being a very nice colt. A son of multiple group I winner, Medicean, Mafaaz is trained by the very talented John Gosden for owner Sheikh Hamdan al Maktoum. Medicean won the ten furlong Coral-Eclipse Stakes (Eng-I) in 2001, but was his best at eight furlongs, capturing the Juddmonte Lockinge Stakes (Eng-I), Queen Anne Stakes (Eng-II), and Celebration Mile (Eng-II) on his way to being named the champion miler in Europe.
As a sire, Medicean has done very well, siring champion fillies Nannina (co-highweighted older mare in England at 7-9.5 furlongs) and Love Academy (champion 2yo filly in Germany). In addition, he has sired the high class Dutch Art, winner of the Middle Park Stakes (Eng-I) and Prix Morny (Fr-I) at age 2, and Almerita, who captured the Preis der Diana-German Oaks (Ger-I) as a 3-year-old in 2006.
Mafaaz inherits plenty of stamina from his female family. His dam, Complimentary Pass, is a lightly-raced daughter of Danehill whose granddam, Burghclere, produced German champion Wind In Her Hair (champion at 11-14 furlongs). Wind In Her Hair, in turn, has produced several top class offspring, the best by far being Deep Impact. Deep Impact, a son of Sunday Silence, was a two-time Horse of the Year in his native Japan.
The real gem in Mafaaz’s/Complimentary Pass’s female family is the great Highclere, who is the fourth dam of Mafaaz. Bred by The Queen, Highclere was a dual group I winner who went on to produce champion Height of Fashion, a blue hen mare in her own right.
So, with all of that being said, do I feel that Mafaaz will be a factor on the First Saturday in May? The answer is a definitive yes—if he’s running in the Stan James Two Thousand Guineas (Eng-I) at Newmarket… and not at Churchill Downs in Louisville.