Mendelssohn ran an exceptionally impressive race in Saturday's Group 2 UAE Derby at Meydan, but the race's runner-up, Rayya, could be a big threat on the first Friday in May. The filly was beaten 18 1/2 lengths by Mendelssohn, but finished three lengths ahead of American runner Reride, whose form was recently flattered by the Sunland Derby victory of Runaway Ghost, whom he had previously beaten in the Mine That Bird Derby.
Trained by Doug Watson in Dubai on behalf of owner Sheikh Rashid bin Humaid Al Nuaimi, the 3-year-old daughter of Tiz Wonderful is scheduled to be shipped to the United States with Bob Baffert's string of runners from Dubai. The Hall of Fame trainer will take over Rayya's conditioning duties in Southern California.
Bred in Kentucky by Mineola Farm, James W. Hirschmann and Silent Grove Farms, Rayya brought just $7,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Fall Yearling sale. At the OBS sale in April, she commanded $190,000 from her current connections.
Earlier this year, Rayya captured the Group 2 UAE Oaks, a points race for the Kentucky Oaks. Baffert told drf.com that as long as the filly exits her effort in the UAE Derby well, and is training soundly, she will be aimed at the fillies' classic at Churchill Downs.
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