Race of the Week 2017

Japan's Red Desire Heads Flower Bowl

Red Desire, a Group 1 winner in Japan, will make her first start in North America when she faces seven fillies and mares in the 33rd running of the Grade 1, $500,000 Flower Bowl Invitational on Super Saturday at Belmont Park.


In 2009, Red Desire won the Group 1 Shuka Sho, was runner-up in the Oka Sho (Japanese 1000 Guineas) and Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks), and finished third in the Grade 1 Japan Cup.  


The 4-year-old daughter of the Sunday Silence stallion Manhattan Cafe opened her 2010 campaign in Dubai, winning the Group 2 Al Maktoum Challenge: Round 3 on March 24 and reporting home 11th in the Group 1 Dubai World Cup 23 days later. Sent back to Japan, the 4-year-old was fourth by one length in the Group 1 Victoria Mile in her most recent start.


After bleeding following a workout in June, the connections of Red Desire elected to send the filly to North America, where she could run on Lasix, for the Flower Bowl and the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf, with the latter event to be held at Churchill Downs on November 5


Red Desire, who arrived in New York on September 16, breezed five furlongs in 1:04.97 at Belmont on Saturday and this morning had a vigorous gallop on the grass in the infield.


“She’s been doing well since she arrived at Belmont,” said Nobutaka Tada, racing manager for owner Yoko Yamamoto’s Tokyo Horseracing Co. Ltd. “The training here is completely different. In Japan we have uphill, woodchips, turf, Polytrack, dirt – many courses for training.”


Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux, who won the 2001 Japanese Oaks aboard Lady Pastel during one of his multiple stints in Japan, will ride Red Desire in the Flower Bowl. Desormeaux has already won a graded stakes at Belmont with a Japanese horse, having captured the 2008 Grade 2 Peter Pan with Casino Drive, owned by Yoko Yamamoto’s husband, Hidetoshi Yamamoto.

“Red Desire’s trainer, Mikio Matsunaga, used to ride with Kent,” said Tada. “He was a jockey and he rode with Kent and knows Kent very well. It was an obvious decision to have Kent ride for us. He knows how Japanese horses behave and how they run.”


Installed as the 5-2 favorite on the morning line, Red Desire drew post position 2.


Shared Account, second by a head to Proviso in the Grade 1 Diana at Saratoga on July 31 most recently, will look to go one better in the Flower Bowl.


“The margin wasn’t much, and it was diminishing,” said H. Graham Motion, who trains Shared Account for Sagamore Farm. “I have tremendous respect for Proviso, whom I believe is the top middle distance filly in the country. It was disappointing to not win, but Shared Account has never disappointed me with her performances.”


Shared Account has made two other starts so far in 2010, finishing fourth in the Grade 3 Gallorette at Pimlico in May and annexing the Grade 3 All Along at Colonial Downs in June, with All Along runner-up Dynaslew returning to win the Grade 2 Ballston Spa Handicap.


The Flower Bowl will serve as Shared Account’s first start beyond 1 1/8 miles, but Motion is confident the daughter of 2003 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Pleasantly Perfect is up to the challenge.


“I haven’t been surprised with her development this year,” said Motion. “She has always been a consistent filly. I think this is the distance she has always wanted. She’s a very tall and long filly with a long stride. She has a high cruising speed, unlike Check the Label [winner of the Grade 1 Garden City on September 18 for Motion], who has a quick burst of speed.”

Edgar Prado retains the mount aboard Shared Account, who will leave from post 7 at 6-1 on the morning line.


Keertana will cut back in distance for the Flower Bowl, having captured the 1 3/8-mile Grade 3 Glens Falls Handicap at Saratoga on September 6. Prior to that victory the Barbara Hunter homebred had made five starts in 2010, 1 1/16 miles or less.


“We saw something in her that suggested she’d like longer distances, and it looks like she does,” said trainer Tom Proctor.


While a solid performance on Saturday could send Keertana to the Breeders’ Cup, Proctor believes the Flower Bowl is a valuable prize by itself.


“I’m not one of those guys who sees the Flower Bowl as a prep,” said Proctor. “The Flower Bowl is a nice race.”


Keertana will leave from the outside under Jose Lezcano as the 5-1 third choice.


Also entering the Flower Bowl off a triumph at the Spa is Changing Skies, who picked up her second stakes in North America when she prevailed in the restricted Waya over 1 ½ miles on August 9. The Swettanham Stud colorbearer began her career in Europe where she placed in three stakes, including a second-place finish in the 2008 Group 3 Prix de Psyche, in which eventual stablemate Proviso was third.


“She has reasonably good form,” said Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott of Changing Skies, who took the Grade 3 The Very One at Gulfstream Park in February. “She’s not a Grade 1 winner yet, but we’ll give her the opportunity this Saturday. It’s always a good test.”


John Velazquez has the call aboard Changing Skies, a 6-1 shot who drew post 3.   

Augustin Stables’ Forever Together, the 2008 Champion Female Turf Horse, was third in the Glens Falls, the seventh straight graded stakes in which she was second or third.


“We felt that the Glens Falls was her worst race,” said Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard. “We were rather disappointed. She was third and was further back than in her previous races.”


While Forever Together’s 2010 record also includes placings in the Grade 2 Jenny Wiley, Grade 1 Gamely, and Grade 1 Diana, Sheppard believes the 6-year-old stretch runner hasn’t been racing to her potential and that a change in tactics is in store.


“She’s going to race twice more in her life and we want to see if keeping her closer to the pace will help her,” said Sheppard. “Hopefully she’ll run a respectable race and we can wheel her back in the Breeders’ Cup.”


Forever Together, heroine of the 2008 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf and third in that race in 2009, will be ridden by Garrett Gomez for the first time in the Flower Bowl. The champion drew post 6 as the 3-1 second choice.

Completing the field are Ave, eighth in the Grade 1 Beverly D. on August 31 after missing by a nose when second in the Grade 2 Dance Smartly; Gozzip Girl, a Grade 1 winner who was last seen finishing sixth in the Grade 1 John C. Mabee; and Tarrip, third in a Belmont optional claimer on September 23.


The field for the Grade 1 Flower Bowl Invitational:








Gozzip Girl (KY)

J R Leparoux


M D Wolfson



Red Desire (JPN)

K J Desormeaux


M Matsunaga



Changing Skies (IRE)

J R Velazquez


W I Mott



Tarrip (KY)

R Maragh


C Clement



Ave (GB)

J Castellano


R L Attfield



Forever Together (KY)

G K Gomez


J E Sheppard



Shared Account (KY)

E S Prado


H G Motion



Keertana (KY)

J Lezcano


T F Proctor





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