Sweet Ducky and Gourmet Dinner, two of the prominent members of this year's 3-year-old class, may be off the Kentucky Derby trail, but for completely different reasons.
Sweet Ducky on Tuesday was purchased by Ramzan Kadyrov, the controversial president of Chechnya, in order to run in the United Arab Emirates Derby on March 26. Kadyrov uses Herman Brown as his trainer, and Kelly Breen, the former trainer of Sweet Ducky, said Tuesday that Brown had contacted him in regards to Sweet Ducky.
Kadyrov, according to numerous published reports, has extensive racehorse holdings in the Middle East, Europe, and Asia. He does not have horses in the United States, and there is no indication that Sweet Ducky would return to the United States for the Kentucky Derby should he run well in Dubai. He has not raced since finishing second in the Holy Bull Stakes on Jan. 30.
Breen said he had no idea what the future plans were for Sweet Ducky, who was flown to Dubai on Tuesday.
"He's 100 percent sold. He's gone," Breen said Tuesday from Florida. "These are the things you have to do to make a profit."
Sweet Ducky was purchased by owners George and Lori Hall as a yearling for $135,000. Terms of his sale to Kadyrov were not disclosed, but Breen said it was "a lot of money."
Kadyrov, 34, is one of the most controversial figures in the world, and has been accused of running a corrupt government and being guilty of human rights violations in Chechnya. Kadyrov, backed by Russian president Vladimir Putin, has been president of Chechnya for nearly four years. There have been huge outcries in racing circles in England and Australia when his horses have competed in major races there, such as at Royal Ascot and the Melbourne Cup.
As for Gourmet Dinner, he has not worked since finishing second in the Holy Bull Stakes on Feb. 26, and this past weekend, he was taken off the grounds of Gulfstream Park, bound for a farm in Ocala, Fla.
Neither his owner, Bill Terrill, nor his trainer, Steve Standridge, have returned phone messages left for them both Monday and Tuesday.
-- additional reporting by Mike Welsch