December 17, 2018

Godolphin’s Gold Town set for late Triple Crown nomination

Gold Town will try to book his Kentucky Derby ticket in the UAE Derby (Photo courtesy Dubai Racing Club/Andrew Watkins)

Gold Town, who created plenty of UAE Derby (G2) buzz in his UAE 2000 Guineas (G3) conquest, will be made a late nominee to the Triple Crown, Godolphin formally announced Monday. Judging by trainer Charlie Appleby’s post-Guineas mention of the Kentucky Derby (G1), the decision was expected.

Gold Town cemented his status as the Dubai World Cup Carnival’s top three-year-old male last Thursday, following up on his cakewalk in the Guineas trial. He’s now two-for-two on dirt by a combined total of almost 15 lengths.

“I have discussed it with His Highness Sheikh Mohammed, who believes Gold Town deserves a supplementary entry to the G1 Kentucky Derby,” Appleby told Godolphin.com.

“Like everybody else, His Highness was impressed by what Gold Town was able to achieve in the UAE 2000 Guineas. He was visually impressive, winning by 10 and a half lengths, and that was backed up by the clock.”

Although comparing raw times across different days isn’t the best methodology, Gold Town’s time of 1:37.77 stacks up to what top dirt miler Heavy Metal posted earlier in the Meydan season (1:37.68 in the December 21 Dubai Creek Mile and 1:37.80 in the January 11 Al Maktoum Challenge Round 2 [G2]). But a better comparison is Heavy Metal’s faster 1:36.74 in last Saturday’s Firebreak (G3), two days after Gold Town’s Guineas.

From the final crop of Street Cry, the British-bred gelding will get his opportunity to score Derby points in the March 31 UAE Derby on World Cup night. The $2 million test is effectively a “win or place second and you’re in” with a point scale of 100-40-20-10.

The competition will be stiffer than what Gold Town has seen so far at Meydan, with some international shippers presumably turning up. But unless Aidan O’Brien dispatches Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) hero Mendelssohn from Ireland, Gold Town is likely to be a lopsided favorite in the UAE Derby.

The Dubai road to the Derby has yet to work out, with the best finish at Churchill being a fifth by O’Brien’s Master of Hounds (the 2011 UAE Derby near-misser). The most recent test case was last year’s UAE Guineas/Derby winner Thunder Snow, famously pulled up after bucking in the opening strides of the Run for the Roses.

Godolphin’s Street Cry might have been the exception, if he hadn’t missed the 2001 Kentucky Derby due to injury. The winner of the UAE Guineas before coming up a head short in the UAE Derby, Street Cry had the benefit of an American juvenile campaign. Gold Town has a different profile, having started out in England before wintering in Dubai.

Street Cry has gained compensation at stud, siring 2007 Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense (the first to turn the double with the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile [G1]) as well as Hall of Famer Zenyatta and Australian supermare Winx. It would be a fascinating storyline of Derby 144 if Gold Town bids to join Street Sense and win the one that got away for Dad.

“He has come out of the race very well,” Appleby said of the Guineas aftermath. “He’s very straightforward to train, and he has already proved he can handle long-distance travel.

“He’s got a good brain, and a good temperament,” the trainer added – an oblique allusion to Thunder Snow’s quirks?

“We will run him next in the UAE Derby, and if that goes well, we will press on to Kentucky. He will be supplemented this week.”

The fee to add a three-year-old to the 2018 Triple Crown during the late nomination window, which runs from January 21 through March 19, is $6,000.