Ryan Moore: My views on Mendelssohn in the Kentucky Derby and Saturday's 2000 Guineas

Betfair Ambassador Ryan Moore
Betfair Ambassador Ryan Moore is hoping to steer Mendelssohn to victory in Saturday's Kentucky Derby
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Ryan Moore will be in Kentucky on Saturday night to ride Breeders' Cup winner Mendelssohn in the Derby, and here the Betfair Ambassador gives his exclusive views on that race and the first Classic of the season at Newmarket...

"Everything is set for him to run his race, and I'd like to think that if he performs to his best - and you always need luck in races like this - then he will go close. I think he already has the form to mount a serious challenge."

Ryan Moore on Mendelssohn

Great renewal of Kentucky Derby but we have a chance

Mendelssohn certainly has the talent to run a big race in Saturday's Kentucky Derby.

He is a Grade 1 winner in America, he comes here on the back of a runaway Grade 2 win on dirt at Meydan in a track-record time, he has plenty of experience and tactical speed, he has the pedigree being a Scat Daddy half-brother to Beholder, and he has been trained specifically for the race.

Will that be good enough? I don't know is the honest answer, and not for one moment do we think this is going to be straightforward, though that is stating the obvious.

People are so excited by the race this year because it is one of the best renewals in a good while and and I think Mckinzie, just touched off by Bolt D'oro at Santa Anita in March, is the only big name missing here.

So, in that context, of course it is a big ask for my colt, though he may just be up to the challenge.
He is certainly the best European challenger to go for the race, but it just so happens he goes there in one of the better years.

I will have three rides before the Derby on Saturday, though just the one is on dirt, and the draw in 14 is what it is - I don't think any of the main challengers have been disadvantaged - and we know what we want to do in the race.

We will soon know how that plays out, but I have always thought it is more important what horses are around you rather than the draw itself.

Anyway, let's concentrate on what we do know, and not on what may happen coming out of the gates.

Can Rayya give Dubai form a boost?

We do know that the form of his Breeders' Cup Turf win is working out very well. A lot of people were surprised we didn't go down the dirt route in Del Mar but we simply thought he wasn't ready for it at that stage of his career. And the patience seems to have been rewarded.

We know he stepped forward on that victory when winning on the dirt in Dubai, his best performance yet, and that his speed figures put him right up there with the best in this race.

A lot of people do take Dubai form with a pinch of salt, I know that, and they are fully entitled to their opinion. So, of course, I want to see the UAE Derby 18½-length runner-up Rayya run well in the Kentucky Oaks on Friday.

Everything is set for him to run his race, and I'd like to think that if he performs to his best - and you always need luck in races like this - then he will go close. I think he already has the form to mount a serious challenge.

A lot of people are talking about how he will cope with a 20-runner race, but I don't see any others in here with that level of experience in such a big field. And he handled 13 rivals pretty well at Del Mar, didn't he?

No shortage of strong opposition

The opposition looks very strong, though, we know that.

Justify looked a very exciting horse when beating Bolt D'Oro in the Santa Anita Derby, and the runner-up is a very good yardstick. He has to be feared, but he is having just his fourth start, which you can view as a positive as well as a potential negative.

Todd Pletcher has four in here and his Audible beat a very good horse in Hofburg in the Florida Derby last time. But I'm a big fan of Magnum Moon after his Arkansas Derby defeat of Quip and the booking of John Velasquez on Vino Rosso also catches my eye. He beat a very decent horse in Enticed last time, and that is strong form.

Chad Brown has a live contender in Good Magic. He was a 4-length winner on the dirt in the Breeders' Cup in November, and warmed up for this race with a defeat of the consistently high-class Flameaway in the Blue Grass here last time. He is a hard, tough, performer who you suspect will run his race.

The list could go on, too, as there is a lot of depth to this race.

So, while we go into the race with our eyes wide open, we think we have a realistic shot of victory. Let's leave it there for now, shall we.

***

O'Brien pair deserve to head 2000 Guineas market

I think Gustav Klimt is the deserved favourite for the big one at home in the 2000 Guineas.

I liked him a lot at two, when we didn't see him after he won the Superlative Stakes on the July course, and did so again when he won in much different ground at Leopardstown on his return.

The testing conditions would not have been in his favour there but he picked up well to beat a race-fit rival and the expected better ground at Newmarket will suit him well. This looks a good spot for him.

I loved everything about Saxon Warrior last season. I was very taken with him in the Beresford and he showed a really good attitude to beat Roaring Lion in the Racing Post Trophy.

Okay, the form has taken a couple of knocks but that was a high-class effort, trust me, and Aidan is very happy with how he has done over the winter. And he wouldn't be the first horse that he has brought here to win a Guineas first time out.

Huge respect for Masar - Expert has each-way claims

I finished second to Masar in the Craven and he was very impressive there. I know he had a run on dirt beforehand, albeit a poor one, but I would have the utmost respect for him. Don't forget what a good 2yo he was, and he didn't get the breaks in Chantilly or Del Mar.

Elarqam was impressive when beating Tip Two Win over 7f here last season and the step up to a mile looks sure to suit him. He needs to improve, but he has been the subject of positive talk.

I thought Expert Eye ran a very good race for me in the Greenham. He was inconvenienced by the slow ground and track position at Newbury - it took a while to get cover, especially as they went in single file early on - and I reckon you will see him come forward a fair amount from that run. That said, I think you will see a better horse further down the line, but I definitely believe he has an each-way shout in an open Guineas.

Of the others, it was a miracle that Headway was able to win from where he was at Lingfield - I rode in the race - and I suppose you could give him a squeak, too, if the ground continues to dry out.


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