Kentucky next stop for UAE Derby victor Derma Sotogake

Derma Sotogake, son of former top sprinter Mind Your Biscuits, demonstrated why he can be the first horse to complete the UAE-American Derby double

by

Leslie Wilson Jr

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Derma Sotogake, ridden by Christophe Lemaire, wins the UAE Derby at Meydan in Dubai. — Photo by Neeraj Murali
Derma Sotogake, ridden by Christophe Lemaire, wins the UAE Derby at Meydan in Dubai. — Photo by Neeraj Murali

Published: Sat 25 Mar 2023, 10:30 PM

Last updated: Sat 25 Mar 2023, 10:32 PM

Although the $1 million UAE Derby (G2), a major qualifying race for the Kentucky Derby, is yet to produce a winner of America’s most famous race, that could change after Saturday’s renewal of the Dubai colt’s Classic.

Derma Sotogake, son of former top sprinter Mind Your Biscuits, demonstrated why he can be the first horse to complete the UAE-American Derby double after a dominant five and a half-length victory in the three-year-old showpiece, just before sunset.


The performance saw him earn a whopping 100 qualifying points and helped stamp his ticket to Churchill Downs, home of the historic 2023 Kentucky Derby.

With French ace Christophe Lemaire in the saddle, Derma Sotogake travelled smoothly on the rail for most of the nine-furlong contest with fellow Japanese raiders Dura Erede and Continuar in pursuit.


As favourite and Irish trained Cairo was caught out for speed, the Japanese trio pulled clear and kicked for home to finish in the same order.

“I had a nice cruise, and in the straight, he reacted well,” said Lemaire, who had finished third in the Saudi Derby last month.

“I didn’t know where the other horses were, but when I turned round we were clear and I was able to enjoy the crowd.

Connections of Derma Sotogake at the presentation ceremony. — Photo by Shihab
Connections of Derma Sotogake at the presentation ceremony. — Photo by Shihab

“I think the Japanese horses (three-year-olds) are really good. It means something when you win a Derby by such a big margin,” he added.

Winning trainer Hidetaka Otonashi was a trifle unmoved by the startling performance Derma Sotogake delivered but said: “I did not expect the horse to lead the race but Christophe Lemaire was able to keep a nice spot. I’m a bit surprised but extremely happy with the win.

“It’s my first time here and Derma Sotogake is my first-ever runner. I just left everything up to Lemaire. We did not have a plan,” he added.

“All I asked for was a good break and for him to keep him in a good position. This is the first time he’s gone wire to wire and he pulled away nicely at the end.”

Otonashi would also use the opportunity to pay tribute to Lemaire who left his home in France and resettled with his family in Japan which the jockey has repeatedly said was a relatively easy decision that carried no regrets.

“Lemaire is a great rider and he executed the ride to perfection. He a thinker,” said Otonashi. “I was confident he would ride the perfect race and that the horse would get the distance easy, there was never any doubt about that and he has done the job really well.

“Winning by that distance was really good. I’ve never had a runner here and now I have a runner and a winner. He will go for the Kentucky Derby next and we look forward to that.

Even if he goes on to make history for Japan and Dubai you can’t deny that Derma Sotogake deserves comparisons to outstanding winners of the UAE classic who went on to achieve greater success.

Thunder Snow would follow up on his Derby success to become a two-time Dubai World Cup (G1) winner while Rebel’s Romance subsequently landed the 2022 Breeders' Cup Turf.

Results

Horse Trainer Jockey

1 Derma Sotogake Hidetaka Otonashi Christophe Lemaire

2.Dura Erede Manabu Ikezoe Cristian Demuro

3. Continuar Yoshito Yahagi Ryusei Sakai

“I had a nice cruise, and in the straight, he reacted well. I think the Japanese horses (three-year-olds) are really good. It means something when you win a Derby by such a big margin"

Christophe Lemaire, jockey (Derma Sotogake)

“Winning by that distance was really good. I’ve never had a runner here and now I have a runner and a winner. He will go for the Kentucky Derby next and we look forward to that"

Hidetaka Otonashi, trainer (Derma Sotogake)


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