By Nicholas Godfrey
UAE: Panadol is rated a “70-30” chance by trainer Salem Bin Ghadayer to represent the UAE in the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 1.
The UAE Derby runner-up was added for $6,000 as a late nomination to the Triple Crown at the most recent entry stage – and Bin Ghadayer is awaiting a decision soon from Panadol’s owner, Sheikh Mohammed’s son Sheikh Hamdan.
“The horse is in training so we are ready to go but I couldn’t say 100% that he is gonna go, or 100% he will not go,” said the Dubai-based trainer.
“We’ve prepared everything so he is ready to travel but the final decision is for my boss, Sheikh Hamdan. You can say it is 70% he will go, 30% he won’t.”
A US-bred son of Flatter, Panadol was a breeze-up purchase for $180,000 at Ocala in June 2020. He did not race as a two-year-old and made his debut with a hugely impressive 7¾-length success at Meydan in February before he stepped up to win the Al Bastikiya, the second leg of the UAE Triple Crown.
Facing stiffer international opposition in the UAE Derby, he again led before being run down by Godolphin’s Rebel’s Romance, who was ruled out of the Kentucky reckoning earlier this week by trainer Charlie Appleby. Godolphin also have a leading US-based contender in the unbeaten Breeders’ Cup winner Essential Quality.
If Panadol goes to Kentucky, he will be joined by Bin Ghadayer-trained stablemate Meshakel, a runaway winner on the Meydan dirt on March 11. The former Mark Johnston-trained colt may run in the G2 Pat Day Mile on the Derby undercard on May 1.
“Panadol has come back from the UAE Derby well,” said Bin Ghadayer, who is from an endurance background and has held a Flat licence since 2014.
. “He’s in his usual training programme and for me as a trainer, obviously it would be one of my dreams just to participate in one of the biggest races in the world.
“To go to the Kentucky Derby with a breeze-up horse from Dubai would be incredible but we believe 100% in Panadol’s ability and quality.
“We didn’t have him until the end of November and in a very short time the horse has shown up with some great performances.
“He has improved race-by-race and I am sure he will go on improving. But either way, he will be a nice horse for us next season here, maybe a World Cup horse.
“On the one hand we have a good horse for next season here and we can prepare for that step by step – but the other side of the argument is how much it would mean for everybody to take a horse to Kentucky from the Emirates.
“He started in the Emirates, broke his maiden in the Emirates, so it would be very important to everyone here. But even though I would be so happy for the horse to run in the Kentucky Derby, I also know that I will have a nice horse for next season if he stays here.”
Bin Ghadayer, who trains at Fazza Stables, has saddled three G1 winners – all in same race, with three of the past five winners of Round 3 of the Al Maktoum Challenge in Long River, Capezzano and Matterhorn.
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