UAE Derby 2023: Derma Sotogake cruises to victory

Derma Sotogake had sealed a spot in the gate for the Kentucky Derby with a romping all-the-way win in the G2 UAE Derby 2023, collecting 100 RTKD points with a bravura display of stamina.

UAE Derby

G2, $1,000,000, 1m 3/16 dirt, 3yo

There will again be at least two Japanese runners at Churchill Downs this year after Derma Sotogake turned the UAE Derby into a procession, leading home compatriots Dura Erede and Continuar and collecting the 100 Road to the Kentucky Derby points on offer to the winner, ensuring his qualification for the Kentucky Derby.

It appeared a competitive contest before the gates opened, but Derma Sotogake broke on top under Christophe Lemaire from his inside post and that was the ballgame, a racecaller’s dream. The 6-1 chance was never headed, was still travelling strongly at the top of the lane, and widened his advantage through the stretch until he hit the line an unchallenged five and a half lengths clear.

UAE Derby Race Video

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Dura Erede, who followed the winner all the way round but had no change of gear, kept on to be four and a half lengths clear of the one-paced longshot Continuar, who raced in third throughout. Japanese dominance stretched to the superfecta, as Perriere came home in fourth place.

“It’s good to go to the front on this track,” said Lemaire, an expatriate Frenchman who is invariably one of the leading riders in his adopted Japan, and who later won the G1 Dubai Sheema Classic aboard the exceptional Equinox. “I didn’t have to push the horse to make the lead, he travelled really well and accelerated.”

The Irish-trained favourite Cairo was close up early but emptied out on the turn, finishing tenth. The three US-trained raiders were similarly trounced, with Tall Boy ninth, Worcester 11th and Ah Jeez last of the 13 runners.

“That was a surprise,” said trainer Hidetaka Otonashi. “He has never led like that before and stayed ahead – I wasn’t sure he could last the distance but he did it very well.”

Derma Sotogake, a son of multiple G1 winner Mind Your Biscuits, certainly stays well, and was building on his third place in the G3 Saudi Derby in Riyadh on his first appearance of 2023. This victory improved his lifetime record to four-for-eight.

“This has been a long-term dream for me,” said owner Hiroyuki Asanuma. “The Kentucky Derby? Of course we will go for it.”

The runner-up Dura Erede earned 40 RTKD points and is also likely to ship across the Pacific for the Kentucky Derby. Last year the first two from the UAE Derby – Crown Pride and Summer Is Tomorrow – also lined up in Louisville and together they were responsible for a first quarter run at a record pace that smashed the big race apart. Lemaire rode Crown Pride that day and can be expected to take a more restrained approach this time.

UAE Derby 2023 Payouts

HorseWinPlaceShow
1. Derma Sotogake14.504.00 
2. Dura Erede 7.70 
3. Continuar 13.10 

Winning time: 1m 55.81s

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