The last jewel of the Triple Crown is upon us, the running of the G1 Kikuka Sho (Japanese St. Leger) for three-year-old colts and fillies. While there is no Triple Crown on the line, there is a chance for one horse to add a G1 to their resume.
While the winners of the Satsuki Sho and Derby have decided on other paths (one can assume the thought that this race was too long), we do have the third place finisher in both races appear here in the form of Stella Veloce. Can he add a G1 to his resume after playing second string?
Race 11 – G1 Kikuka Sho – 3000m (1m 7/8) Turf – 3yo Colts and FIllies – 2:40 am ET/11:40 am PT
11 Divine Love – In a race where nobody really says wow to me, I thought I would at least side with one of the hot horses coming into the race. Divine love has won her last two races vs. lower level company but the manner in her winning has “won” me over. Two starts back in the Thailand Cup over a Mile and five eights she sat a nice trip in third before going on to win under very little urging. She retains the services of top jock Fukunaga (two for two on her) and that alone for me is a big plus. She is the lone filly in this field so also sees a weight break from the boys. Her pedigree suggests no issues as her dad and dam sire both won this race. I know it’s a big step up in class but the risk is worth the reward.
18 Orthoclase – The regally bred son of Epiphaneia looks to emulate his sire and owner in a race they (U Carrot) won in 2013. He made his return to the races in his last start after being on the shelf for almost nine months!. To finish 3rd in a G2 says a lot of your quality both as a horse and a trainer to have your horse ready off of that layoff. He’s bred to the nines, being by a multiple G1 stakes winner out of the talented G1 winning mare Marialite (who herself is out of the stellar mare Chrysoprase). Love the fact that Lemaire stays on board after his last, showing that sign of confidence. His trainer has pointed him to this race so you’ll know he has the horse in peak condition. The draw wasn’t great but think Lemaire will have enough time in this marathon race to get him settled and forwardly placed. Lots of questions still but like the upside.
14 Stella Veloce – Has done little wrong in his short seven race career. Third in both the first two legs of the triple crown where he found a few better than him on both occasions. The one bonus for him here is there doesn’t seem to be any world beaters so this could be his day. He shouldn’t have any problems with the distance (Bago out of a Deep Impact mare) but his main problem may be that he’ll be too far back when the real running begins. He does have a win over this track and gained some confidence with a workmanlike score in his last race (G2 Kobe Shimbun Hai – beat Derby winner Shahryar who didn’t look himself over the soft going). Yes, he could win this but willing to look elsewhere for a price in a race full of questions.
5 Red Genesis – Son of Deep Impact is one of the few in here who seems to like racing at Hanshin, scoring in two of four tries. Was outkicked in his last effort when losing to Stella Veloce in the soggy G2 Kobe Shimbun Hai but still ran well. Leading rider Kawada gets back on board and won a G2 with him back in May. Really not sure what to make of his Derby effort other than having a horrible draw (17). Draws well in here, allowing him to save some ground and hopefully have something left in the tank for the stagger home. Think he’ll get the distance but may find one or two a bit more tougher in here.