Mendelssohn: a sensational winner of this year’s UAE Derby

Edward Whitaker

Aidan O’Brien has expressed his disappointment at losing Mendelssohn to the breeding sheds after his commercial appeal for US breeders prompted Coolmore to bring forward his retirement.

Following his devastating UAE Derby triumph at Meydan in March, Mendelssohn emerged as a leading Kentucky Derby contender, but his chance in the Churchill Downs Classic was spoiled by the deluge that rendered the dirt track conditions especially challenging.

The Scat Daddy colt had each of his next five starts in the United States, placing in the Travers Stakes and Belmont Gold Cup before finishing fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic back at Churchill Downs after cutting out strong fractions.

A tilt at the Pegasus World Cup in January was on the agenda, but once the decision was made in Coolmore not to race on next year he was pointed at the Cigar Mile at Aqueduct on Saturday.

He ran commendably to be fourth having failed to get the early lead he relishes over the shorter trip.

“We were disappointed to retire him,” O’Brien said phlegmatically of last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf victor.

“The plan was made to go to the Pegasus and then for the Dubai World Cup, and he could have run in the Pegasus and still gone to stud, but the lads in Coolmore America were having so much interest in him that the decision was made to retire him.

“We felt we hadn’t seen the best of him, and thought the Pegasus was absolutely made for him over nine furlongs, but his stud appeal from a business side of things won out on this occasion.”

Reflecting on his course record 18-and-a-half-length rout of Group 2 opposition in Dubai last March, O’Brien, whose Melbourne Cup fifth Rostropovich is due to contest the Hong Kong Vase this Sunday, said: “What he did at Meydan was exceptional. He got a Beyer speed figure of 106 for it, which was a seriously high figure.

“Because of that he became one of the favourites for the Kentucky Derby, but circumstances didn’t work out for him there, or on other days.

“He probably ended up being a little bit of a guinea pig because we were learning as we were going along with him.” 

The American-bred colt, who topped the 2016 Keeneland September Yearling sale when bought for $3 million by MV Magnier, has made the transatlantic crossing six times this year but will settle stateside now at Coolmore’s Ashford Stud in Kentucky.

Coolmore America manager Dermot Ryan said: “Being by our own Scat Daddy and a half-brother to Into Mischief and Beholder, you couldn’t ask for a better pedigree, and he showed real brilliance when winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Del Mar and the UAE Derby by a street, recording a new track record.

“He also ran some excellent races in defeat this autumn, notably in the Travers and Jockey Club Gold Cup. We have already had a huge number of inquiries about him and I have no doubt that he will prove extremely popular.”

Mendelssohn won four of his 13 starts and earned just shy of £2m in prize-money. His covering fee has been set at $35,000. 

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