Dubai Preview: Kentucky Oaks spot in play at Meydan

February 16th, 2023

A near-certain start in the Kentucky Oaks (G1) is up for grabs in Dubai on Friday.

The UAE Oaks (G3) at Meydan is the first race on the Road to the 2023 Kentucky Oaks, where the winner gets 50 points. It won’t absolutely guarantee a position in the 14-horse field for the Oaks, but it will go very close.

UAE Oaks Selections

  • #1 Ami Please
  • #5 Mimi Kakushi
  • #3 Awasef
  • #2 Asawer

UAE Oaks Wagers

  • $10 win/$20 place: #1 Ami Please
  • $3 trifecta: 1, 5 with 1, 5 with 2, 3
  • $1 trifecta: 1, 5 with 1, 5 with 4, 6, 7

Despite the enticement of a Kentucky Oaks start, the UAE Oaks hasn’t drawn a particularly strong field, and at this point it looks like a two-horse contest.

The dominant filly in Dubai this winter has been #5 Mimi Kakushi. From the barn of Salem bin Ghadayer, Mimi Kakushi was fourth in her first two starts before recording victories in the UAE 1,000 Guineas Trial and then the UAE 1,000 Guineas (Listed) itself. In the latter race, she drew 4 1/2 lengths clear of #3 Awasef, and had the race well in hand.

From the first crop of Pegasus World Cup (G1) winner City of Light, the U.S.-bred Mimi Kakushi is the third stakes winner produced by multiple Grade 2 winner Rite Moment. The only question around her is whether she will stay the 1 3/16-mile journey, but if she does, she should have the beating of her local rivals.

The question is whether she will be capable of beating U.S. raider #1 Ami Please. A maiden winner at Santa Anita Oct. 2, she has since run three times in stakes races for second in the Pike Place Dancer S. at Golden Gate Oct. 29, fourth in the Jimmy Durante (G3) at Del Mar Dec. 3, and most recently third in the Blue Norther S. at Santa Anita Dec. 30.

Her trainer Doug O’Neill has already tasted Classic success in Dubai this season with a U.S. horse on its local debut, preparing Tall Boy to win last week’s UAE 2,000 Guineas, so the U.S. form needs to be taken very seriously here. The only downside for Ami Please is that all her good form is on turf; she has raced just once on dirt, when failing over 5 1/2 furlongs on debut.

That failure, however, was back in July, and on pedigree — she’s by Goldencents out of a Tapit mare — she shouldn’t have any trouble on dirt.

Among the others, Awasef and #2 Asawer look the best, but for exotics I’m going to take all runners.