Elusive Kentucky Derby win remains Moore’s No 1 target
● British jockey still rues Mendelssohn disappointment at Churchill Downs
Ryan Moore still ranks the Kentucky Derby as the race he would most like to add to his already glittering CV.
Moore has won a raft of toplevel races across the world, lifting each of the British Classics at least twice, claiming two Prix de l’arc de Triomphes and bagging high-profile global golds in both the Melbourne and Japan Cup.
However, his last two trips to Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Derby have ended in disappointment, with Lines Of Battle finishing seventh in 2013 and Mendelssohn coming home last after a luckless run two years ago.
Victory in the “Run for the Roses” remains an ambition Moore would like to fulfil.
He told Betfair’s “Lockdown Lowdown” podcast: “The Kentucky Derby is always going to be high up there. There’s always new races now that are worth a lot of money. But I would say the Kentucky Derby is number one for sure.”
Mendelssohn’s defeat was particularly disappointing for Moore as he appeared to have a decent shout prior to the race. Winner of the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf for Aidan O’brien, the Scat Daddy colt had prepped for Churchill Downs with an 18½-length romp in the UAE Derby at Meydan.
Mendelssohn was saddled with an unfavourable draw in stall 14 of 20 for the Kentucky Derby though, and Moore, pictured, felt his chance had gone once he received a couple of significant bumps in the early stages.
The rider explained: “[It was over] after about one and a half strides – as soon as the gates opened. That’s what happens in America I suppose, they let them jump into you maybe. He got smashed out the gate and then we got cleaned up by them again on the first turn. It was raining hard and we had done everything we could to prepare him, but we didn’t prepare him for monsoon rain and it was just too much at that stage.”
Eventual winner Justify went on to take the Triple Crown while Mendelssohn placed three times in five American starts and now stands at Ashford Stud in Kentucky.
Moore added: “Obviously it was a good Kentucky Derby as it turned out.
“He was a late foal and he was able to beat the American horses in a Breeders’ Cup on the turf, but on the day they were so tough and so physically superior at that stage – it was a harsh reality. He was able to do what he liked in Dubai and without experiencing that before, it was very, very hard for him.
“He ran some good races over there that year, but he was a late foal trying to take on really hard, professional horses that had homefield advantage.
“He was a very good horse, he had a hell of a pedigree and I look forward to seeing what he can produce at stud – I think he can be a success.”
While the Kentucky Derby remains elusive, Moore has won the Derby three times – and still has fond memories of his first Epsom success aboard Workforce for
Sir Michael Stoute in 2010, the year he also won the Oaks on the Ed Dunlop-trained Snow Fairy.
Workforce won in a racerecord time, and Moore recalled: “He had a serious amount of talent. He was quite a big, awkward horse and did used to hang, but he had quite a good mind and wouldn’t get too upset.
“We’d done a lot of work with him at home between the Dante and the Derby and gave him plenty of practice.
“I remember saying to the lad leading him up, ‘all I have to do is get him down the hill and he’ll win’. He was very impressive on the day, maybe it wasn’t the strongest Derby of all time, but he was super impressive and floated down the hill.”
“It was raining hard and we had done everything we could to prepare him, but we didn’t prepare him for monsoon rain and it was just too much at that stage”