Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby Returns to Tokyo

Nile River is one of two Hyacinth entrants for American Pharoah | Tibor & Judit


Though it is missing its would-be favorite Dieu du Vin (Jpn) (Declaration of War), Sunday's Listed Hyacinth S. at Tokyo–the third of four races on the Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby–has attracted a solid group of 3-year-old dirt runners, including two of Triple Crown winner American Pharoah's six Japanese winners.

Cafe Pharoah, a $475,000 acquisition out of last year's OBS March Sale, attracted the services of the visiting Ryan Moore for his nine-furlong unveiling at Nakayama Dec. 14 and the son of Paul Pompa, Jr.'s talented MGSW Mary's Follies (More Than Ready) made light work of it, streaking home a 10-length winner (see below, gate 1). The form of that particular race was franked when the next two home returned to graduate in their respective next starts, and top jockey Mirco Demuro only adds to the appeal. Cafe Pharoah is the 7-10 favorite as of this writing.


WATCH: Cafe Pharoah graduates by 10 lengths at first asking


Nile River (American Pharoah) makes just his second career trip to the races, having carried Christophe Soumillon to a tough half-length graduation over this track and distance Nov. 9 (video, gate 9). A $225,000 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga yearling, the dark bay matured into a $775,000 Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream juvenile early last season. Shane Foley is named to ride.

Tagano Beauty (Jpn) (Henny Hughes) is perfect in two starts over the dirt, including a fast-finishing defeat of recent G3 UAE Oaks third Serein (Uncle Mo) in the Oct. 15 Plantanus Sho (allowance) at this venue (video, gate 10).

Daimei Corrida (Jpn) (Eskendereya) makes his 3-year-old debut here, having finished just 2 1/4 lengths adrift of Dieu du Vin in the Cattleya Sho (allowance)–the first leg of the Japanese series–in late November (video, gate 10). Dieu du Vin suffered a minor setback and was not entered for the Hyacinth.

Meisho Tensui (Jpn) (Dunkirk) landed his first two career starts at Tokyo and was last seen finishing fourth as the favorite in the Listed Zen-Nippon Nisai Yushun, the second of the Derby points races, at Kawasaki Dec. 18.

The Hyacinth offers Kentucky Derby points on a 30-12-6-4 scale. The final leg of the series is the Fukuryu S. (allowance, 1800m) at Nakayama Mar. 28.

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