Dubai Sky: Running Where the Grass Is Greener

Bill Mott seldom catches the Derby Fever that afflicts most other trainers every spring. When he entered his turf star Dubai Sky in the Spiral Stakes in mid-March, wise bettors wagered it was a level-headed decision. Mott saw his horse as a legitimate Derby prospect.

Dubai Sky confirmed Mott’s high opinion of him, scoring a decisive victory over 11 rivals. But his lone polytrack win leaves some handicappers skeptical about his chances on dirt against Grade 1 horses.

A historical view of successfully converted turfers paints a clearer picture of Dubai Sky’s talent level.

Here’s how he stacks up against Barbaro and Animal Kingdom, two other recent turf winners who switched to dirt and won the Kentucky Derby:

Best 6-Furlong Half Time on Turf

  • Barbaro………………. 1:11.0
  • Animal Kingdom…. 1:11.0
  • Dubai Sky…………… 1:11.3

Best Final-Quarter Figure on Turf

  • Barbaro……………….106
  • Animal Kingdom….. 96
  • Dubai Sky……………. 96

You can see that Dubai Sky fits with these elite runners. Any concerns that his slower half time marks him as inferior should be set aside.  In the Spiral, he posted a 1:12.1 half time, which stands as the 2nd fastest for that race (formerly known as the Lane’s End Stakes) since Turfway installed its polytrack. Hard Spun owns the fastest half time in that span, and he finished 2nd in the 2007 Kentucky Derby. Elite company, indeed!

Mott and his Derby prospect might find that the grass is greener when you run beside it rather than on it. And bettors might look back at his Futures Pool #4 odds of 23-1 as quite a steal.

Roger LeBlanc
March 29, 2015