Cattleya Stakes Kicks Off Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby

Bushin, pictured here at Keeneland September, is one of 16 entered for the Cattleya S. | Keeneland photo


A field of 16 horses–14 colts and a pair of 2-year-old fillies–will head to the gate for Saturday's $206,819 Cattleya S., a 1600-meter allowance test going a single left-handed turn at Tokyo Racecourse that serves as the first of four legs on the Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby.

Trainer Tetsuya Kimura, who will tighten the girth around favored Equinox (Jpn) (Kitasan Black {Jpn}) in Sunday's G1 Japan Cup, sends out American-bred Sonic Star (Into Mischief). Bred in Kentucky by Nancy Shuford, the dark bay was a $300,000 Keeneland September yearling acquisition and has one racetrack appearance under his belt, a 3 1/2-length victory in an 1800-meter event for newcomers at Hanshin back on Sept. 24 (see below, SC 1). Back in third on that occasion was Marcha Real (Jpn) (Real Impact {Jpn}), a half-brother to GI Breeders' Cup Distaff heroine Marche Lorraine (Jpn) (Orfevre {Jpn}), who returned to break his maiden going nine furlongs over a sloppy strip at Kyoto Nov. 11. Sonic Star, to be ridden by the visiting William Buick, is the 5-1 third betting choice in ante-post wagering.



Into Mischief is also represented by Bushin, a full-brother to Horse of the Year Authentic, who was placed twice on the turf before breaking his maiden going 1000 meters on the dirt in July. The $800,000 Keeneland September purchase was well-beaten in a local allowance over 1400 meters two weeks back.

Holding early favoritism is Rata Forest (Jpn) (Pyro), who will look to build on a seven-length victory over course and distance Oct. 21 (video, SC 9). It will be up to Mirai Iwata to work out a trip from gate 14. Others attracting early support include Amante Bianco (Jpn) (Henny Hughes), a white colt from the family of multiple champion Sodashi (Jpn) (Kurofune); and O K Birdie (Jpn), a daughter of top dirt sire Sinister Minister who thrashed a field of newcomers by 14 1/2 lengths on Fukushima debut Nov. 5 (see below, SC 2).



The Cattleya S. offers Kentucky Derby points on a 10-5-3-2-1 scale to the first five home. The series continues with the Listed Zen-Nippon Nisai Yushun (1600m) at Kawasaki Dec. 13, the Listed Hyacinth S. (1600m) at Tokyo Feb. 18 and the Fukuryu S. (allowance) at Nakayama Mar. 23, with each race offering increased points. The horse that amasses the most points earns a guaranteed spot in the Kentucky Derby. If those connections decline, the offer is extended to each of the next four finishers, in order of points earned.

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