Dubai: Japanese filly Serein targets UAE Oaks ahead of Kentucky

Japanese filly Serein in her new surroundings at Meydan ahead of her UAE Classic campaign.
Photo: Dubai Racing Club/Liza Hendriks

By Dubai Racing Club

UAE: Promising Japanese three-year-old filly Serein has made the ambitious move from her home base to Meydan for the UAE Classics as a prelude to crossing the Atlantic for a Kentucky campaign.

First stop for the daughter of Uncle Mo, who is out of G1 winner Tiz Miz Sue, will be the G3 UAE Oaks next Thursday, February 20, as she attempts to follow a similar path to the same connections’ Lani, who won the UAE Derby in 2016 before running in all three legs of the US Triple Crown, where he was third in the Belmont Stakes.

Trained by Mikio Matsunaga, Kentucky-bred Serein exits a gritty victory in the 1,800-metre Kuratake Sho last month at Nakayama. She arrived in Dubai on Sunday, and stretched her legs over the local surface just after clearing quarantine on Tuesday morning.

“It was a very nice and smooth trip,” said Keita Tanaka, manager of international racing matters for owner Koji Maeda. “She has two wins so far against colts, which is very good, so we think she is capable enough to be competitive in a Group 3. She has been showing some speed over there, so I don’t think the pace here will be any trouble for her.”

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Serein’s only poor showing from four starts came in the mud. “On the sloppy ground, two races back, she did not like that and didn’t want to run,” explained Tanaka. “Apart from that race, she has had three races where she ran well and I don’t expect sloppy ground in Dubai.”

A $500,000 Keeneland September 2018 purchase by Maeda’s North Hills, Serein will be ridden next week by Yutake Take, who also piloted Lani to his victory in the 2016 UAE Derby.

Tanaka added: “She was an expensive purchase, but the owner is now starting to buy good, quality fillies for his stallions in Hokkaido. It’s important to do that and get good pedigrees. 

“That team brought Lani four years ago and he won the Derby here. It’s always been a plan to buy another good dirt horse and possibly come here again. We only have good memories here. It was like a dream journey to bring a three-year-old colt here to win the UAE Derby and then go straight to the US to run in the Kentucky Derby. With this filly, we are trying to do the same thing.”

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The UAE Oaks provides 85 qualification points for the $1.25 million Kentucky Oaks on May 1. Last year’s winner Rayya went on to finish second in the UAE Derby before being unplaced in the Kentucky Oaks.

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