Mont Saint Legame and Caucus, first and second respectively in the Cattleya Sho, the first leg of the “Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby”, are among the 20 three-year-olds registered for the 18 spots in the Hyacinth Stakes, the second leg of the “road” to be held on 19 February at Tokyo Racecourse.
It should be this simple: if either of these horses win, then it’s off to Kentucky.
However, the undefeated Epicharis, a beautiful, quick-footed, frequently airborne colt by Gold Allure is the early favorite and can win the spot as long as Mont Saint Legame does not come in second. With an Epicharis win and Mont Saint Legame third, we have a tie, and Epicharis wins due to superior earnings.
Christophe Lemaire has been at the reins in each of Epicharis’s wide margin victories with the dark brown colt cruising home on his own power with plenty to spare. Epicharis could easily be Lani 2.1 with manners.
But, according to Daily Sports Online, Epicharis owner Katsumi Yoshida has indicated plans to take Epicharis from the Hyacinth Stakes to the UAE Derby and then onto the Belmont Stakes. Should Epicharis win, and Yoshida declines the spot, the ticket goes to the second qualifier which would be Mont Saint Legame, regardless of finishing position, with the 40 points earned from the Cattleya Sho.
The fourth horse named on both sides of the Pacific as a contender is ¥230 million ($1,872,200) select sale Foggy Night by Tapit and dual grade G1 winner Champagne d’Oro. Foggy Night, who won his debut race decisively by 2½ lengths under the guidance of Ryan Moore will need Mont Saint Legame to finish out of the money to snag the ticket.
Foggy Night is trained by Noriyuki Hori (Satono Crown, Albert) and with Ryan Moore back in town with yet another JRA short-term riding jockey's license we will no doubt see Ryan back in the saddle looking to score Foggy Night a second win.
Mont Saint Legame’s connections are brimming with pre-game confidence, but the crowd is lagging slightly behind probably in part that Mont Saint Legame had to work for his victories where Epicharis and Foggy Night made it look easy. Can Mont Saint Legame place? Yes, in all probability. Foggy Night looked good in his debut race, but the fact is other than Sugino Empress in that race the field was a sad lot and Foggy Night had a free ride.
Not To Be Overlooked
USA bred and earnings leader Levante Lion by American Pharoah sire Pioneerof The Nile will debut on the dirt after four starts on turf with a record of 2-0-0. Levante Lion followed his debut win in June with a track record setting win in the G3 Hakodate Nisai Stakes in July before finding himself in deep water with poor finishes in the G3 Keio Hai Nisai Stakes in November and the G1 Futurity Stakes in December.
~Written by Paul Welch