Unique Bella’s brother sparks new connections' Derby dreams

September 09, 2019 05:30pm

A Japanese team of new owner Yugi Hasegawa and agent Hiroyasu Takeuchi descended Monday upon Keeneland with the goal of spending whatever it took to buy Hip 172, otherwise known as the yearling full sibling of champion Unique Bella.

It was mission accomplished to the tune of $1.5 million — tied for third-highest on the September Yearling Sale's opening day — and set the connections up for a longer-range goal.

Speaking through a translator, Takeuchi said the gray or roan colt will be sent to trainer Kazuo Fujisawa.

“The plan is to take him back to Japan and hopefully run in the Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby and bring him back over here as a Derby horse,” the agent said.

Fujisawa is 67 years old. Per Takeuchi, trainers in Japan must retire at age 70, with this colt being sent to him with the purpose of being a star member of his final crop of 3-year-olds eligible for the Derby.

Hip 172 is a son of Tapit out of Unrivaled Belle, the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic winner. That combination produced Unique Bella, who retired last season after winning a trio of Grade 1 races and thriving at a diverse distances.

“The female family line is very, very strong in this horse,” Takeuchi said through the translator.

Come the spring of 2021, we'll see if it's good enough to get him to the gate on the first Saturday in May.

This sale started a flurry of million-dollar offerings that concluded activity Monday at Keeneland.

 Hip 173, a half-brother of Monarch of Egypt, American Pharoah’s first winner back in the spring, commanded $1 million. This one is a Pioneerof the Nile colt out of Irish-bred Up.

 Hip 174, another son of Pioneerof the Nile, hails from the family of Classic Empire. Qatar Racing spent $1.05 million.

 And a few minutes after that, Hip 185, a Medaglia d’Oro colt out of Weekend Within — a full sibling of Breeders’ Cup winner New Money Honey — went to $1.5 million.

Book 1, which offers the top yearling prospects, continues with noon ET starts both Tuesday and Wednesday at Keeneland.

 

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