190325 roses in May
John Velasquez riding Roses In May (right) on his way to the Dubai World Cup at Nad Al Sheba Club in 2005. Image Credit: Gulf News archives

Dubai: The Kentucky Derby is often referred to as the ‘Run for the Roses’, which is a beautiful metaphor for an iconic race, and the winner of the Dubai World Cup in 2005 was a horse called Roses in May.

This was instant favourite of mine. What a wonderful name for a champion race horse.

Trained by 2012 Eclipse Award winner Dale Romans and ridden by Hall Of Famer John Velazquez, Roses in May went into the race as the 11/8 favourite and did not disappoint - coming home a comfortable 3 ½ length winner of fellow American challenger, Dynever with Choctaw Nation 1 ¼ length back in third.

The Richard Mandella-trained second favourite Congrats finished fifth of the twelve runners.

This was the only World Cup in which powerhouse Emirati handler, Saeed Bin Surour, had to watch from the stands as he did not have a worthy contender.

Instead, it was left to fellow Emirati and dual endurance handler, Ismail Mohammed, who flew the Dubai flag with Ruler’s Court.

However, in a race almost totally dominated by American raiders, Ruler’s Court finished third under Australian jockey Kerrin McEvoy, while another Dubai-based handler, Doug Watson, saw Elmustanser finish at the back of the field.

Meanwhile, Yard Arm, a South African-bred galloper, who was based in Dubai during the Carnival, finished in ninth place for the jockey-trainer pairing of Weichong Marwing and Mike de Kock.

Seven American horses started the race with the lone British and Japanese representative, Jack Sullivan and Adjudi Mitsuo taking fourth and sixth place respectively.

I remember Saeed Bin Surour being disappointed at not having a suitable runner in the race, but was happy with Blues and Royals’s emphatic victory in the UAE Derby that year.

Blues And Royals was to be aimed at the Kentucky Derby but unfortunately caught a low-grade respiratory condition that halted his training schedule, and would eventually lead to him being euthanized.

Blues And Royals won the UAE Derby by an impressive 12 lengths on his first start on a dirt surface beating Shamardal, who would emerge as a high-class stallion for Godolphin.