Despite coming in 8th in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, Mubtaahij and his connections remain unsatisfied and unrelenting through the remainder of the season. The five-year-old will run in his fifth and final of the year as the headliner for the 2017 Native Diver at Del Mar. It confessedly seems like an odd direction for Mubtaahij given his results this year.
The race carries a relatively small purse of $100,000 and Mubtaahij has already earned over $4.5 million in his career with a strong record of 5-4-1 in 14 starts. His most recent was the 2017 Awesome Again Stakes. The Baffert horse has also won the 2015 UAE Derby and placed 2nd in the 2016 Dubai World Cup and Woodward Stakes.
Baffert will also run Irish Freedom in the 2017 Native Diver after the three-year-old finished 3rd in the 2017 Comma To The Top Stakes. This colt also placed 8th in the Santa Anita Derby.
One of the bigger threats to Mubtaahij will be Irish Surf, a seven-year-old who made a return to racing in the 2017 Tokyo City Cup after a three-year hiatus. Irish Surf enters the 2017 Native Diver having last won in the 2014 Cougar II Handicap.
Top of the Game is another horse who could prove to be a challenge after winning the 2017 Comma To The Top Stakes. If there’s anyone worth taking a flier on, it’s this four-year-old. He’s as much of an unknown commodity as it comes with just one stakes entry to date but he showed well and deserves consideration in the 2017 Native Diver.
Other notables include Wild About Deb, a four-year-old who stirred the pot last year with a 3rd place finish in the 2016 Penn Derby and Curlin Rules, a Sadler trainee who never quite lived up to his early showings as a freshman. Prime Attraction is expected to be the longshot.
This is certainly a strange decision by Mubtaahij and his Godolphin owners, but perhaps they just want to ensure that their horse is in good shape coming out of a competitive Breeders’ Cup. He’ll be the heavy favorite this weekend with Top of the Game looking to steal some attention.
2017 Native Diver – Saturday, November 25th at Del Mar
1 1/8th Miles – 3+ Year Olds – $100,000
|1||Mubtaahij (IRE)||Drayden Van Dyke||125||Bob Baffert||–|
|2||Top of the Game (KY)||Kent J. Desormeaux||121||Vladimir Cerin||–|
|3||Curlin Rules (KY)||Flavien Prat||121||John W. Sadler||–|
|4||Prime Attraction (KY)||Victor Espinoza||121||James M. Cassidy||–|
|5||Irish Freedom (KY)||Rafael Bejarano||118||Bob Baffert||–|
|6||Wild About Deb (KY)||Tiago Josue Pereira||121||Philip D’Amato||–|
|7||Irish Surf (KY)||Gary L. Stevens||121||Dan L. Hendricks||–|