Master Fencer eligible for $1 million Belmont Stakes bonus

NYRA Press Office
May 24, 2019 11:32am
Katsumi Yoshizawa's homebred Master Fencer, a rallying sixth in the Kentucky Derby moving up the rail under Julien Leparoux for trainer Koichi Tsunoda, will arrive Friday in New York for his try at the June 8 Belmont Stakes.

The Japanese-bred son of Just a Way has trained since the Derby at Keeneland in Lexington, Ky.

"Master Fencer was the first Japanese-bred to run in the Kentucky Derby, and we are continuing on that path of firsts," 
Yoshizawa said. "I needed to see how he'd run in the Derby before making any plans for his immediate future, but I'd always felt like the Belmont Stakes would be the logical next step for him if he proved himself worthy in the Derby first.

"Ultimately, he performed better than we could have hoped, so I gave the trainer and staff the go ahead to prepare for the Belmont. I think he will have a better chance in the Belmont than he did in the Derby. I think America's dirt racing is the best in the world, so I know winning won't be easy, but I hope he has a chance to run his race and come home safe and sound."

Master Fencer's presence in the Belmont Stakes will open the race for pari-mutuel wagering in Japan. Through an agreement reached between NYRA and the Japan Racing Association, Japanese wagering on the Belmont Stakes will be conducted through a separate, non-commingled pool.

Out of the Deputy Minister dam Sexy Zamurai, Master Fencer graduated on December 23 at Hanshin and followed up with an allowance score on January 14 at Kyoto.

Master Fencer earned his way into the Run for the Roses on the Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby by finishing fourth in the Hyacinth in Tokyo and second in the Fukuryu at Nakayama earning 19 points, good for fourth in the standings. When the top three finishers in the table in the Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby, who were not Triple Crown nominated, turned down the invitation, it opened the door for Master Fencer to compete at Churchill Downs.

With his seventh-place finish, elevated to sixth following the disqualification of Maximum Security, Master Fencer bested the effort of two previous Japanese-based horses in the Derby: Lani (9th, 2016) and Ski Captain (14th, 19950.

A start in the Belmont Stakes will make Master Fencer eligible for NYRA's $1 million bonus offered to any Japan-based winner of New York's most prestigious race.

Introduced for the 2017 Triple Crown season, the entire $1 million bonus would be awarded to the winning Japanese horse's connections in addition to the $800,000 winner's share of the purse for the last and longest leg of the Triple Crown. 

To facilitate wagering on the Belmont, NYRA will provide a live simulcast in Japan, accessible through Green Channel, JRA's official racing cable network channel, as well as replays of the race at the JRA's on- and off-course facilities, JRA racing programs on Fuji Television Network and Television Tokyo, and on the JRA's website at, to be geo-filtered within Japan. Wagering will be available via JRA's internet betting platform, PAT. 

Post time for the Belmont Stakes is scheduled for 6:45 p.m. ET on Saturday, June 8 and will be broadcast live on NBC.


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