Hidden Brook September Grad Atop Japan's Road to the Derby After Fukuryu S. Triumph

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Herrschaft, a Kentucky-bred Will Take Charge colt, powered to a convincing upset victory in the Fukuryu Stakes Mach 28 at Nakayama Racecourse, vaulting into the lead on Japan's Road to the Kentucky Derby series.

The chestnut, out of the Mr. Greeley mare Love Ava Love, was bred by Colts, LLC and sold for $200,000 to owner Kanayama Holdings Co. at the 2018 Keeneland September Yearling Sale from Hidden Brook's consignment.

Watch the Fukuryu Stakes

Herrschaft entered the race with a record of two wins from five starts but finished fifth in his only previous appearance in the Churchill Downs-sanctioned series, the Feb. 23 Hyacinth Stakes at Tokyo Racecourse.

The Kenji Nonaka trainee went to the post for the 1,800-meter (about 1 1/8 miles) Fukuryu as a 27-1 longshot, but he certainly outran those odds. Jockey Yusuke Fujioka sent the colt directly to the lead the first time past the stands and never looked back. Turning into the uphill stretch run, he was never threatened and won by 2 1/2 lengths in 1:53.4.

T O Keynes, a Sinister Minister colt, and Miyaji Kokuo, by Victoire Pisa, were second and third. None of the top four mutuel choices were involved in the finish. Danon Pharaoh, a $1.629 million yearling purchase sired by American Pharoah , finished sixth as a lukewarm favorite, lacking any stretch bid.

His two previous wins came at 1,400 meters (about seven furlongs) at Kyoto Racecourse—the first on a fast track and the second on sloppy going. In the Hyacinth, he raced evenly in the middle of the field, then was forced wide into the stretch and passed some tiring rivals to gain fifth, just missing any Kentucky Derby points.

He earned 40 points in the Fukuryu, jumping to the lead in the series that offers a guaranteed spot in the starting gate for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1). Hyacinth winner Cafe Pharoah, who did not contest the Fukuryu, is second with 30 points and remains undefeated after two starts. Vacation won the second leg, the Zen-Nippon Nisai Yushun at Kawasaki Racecourse, earning 20 points and holds third place in the series.

The Fukuryu was the final race on Japan's Road to the Kentucky Derby schedule but, to accommodate the new Sept. 5 date for the Run for the Roses as the COVID-19 pandemic sweeps the globe, Churchill Downs officials are in discussions regarding additional races, leaving the status of the leaderboard up in the air.

While it has not yet produced a Japanese winner in Louisville, the series has had an impact on the United States' Triple Crown. The 2015 Cattleya Sho winner, Lani, who won the first leg in 2015, competed in all three legs of the Triple Crown and finished third in the 2016 Belmont Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets (G1).

Master Fencer, who finished fourth in the Japanese series, accepted the invitation to the 2019 Derby when the top three points-earners declined. He finished seventh and was placed sixth after the disqualification of Maximum Security, then went on to finish fifth in the Belmont Stakes and 13th in the Belmont Derby Invitational Stakes (G1T) in July when he was switched to the turf.

-edited from www.bloodhorse.com