Japan's Best To Face Test From Mick Fire in Japan Dirt Derby

Ohi Racecourse


While the likes of Derma Sotogake (Jpn) (Mind Your Biscuits), Continuar (Jpn) (Drefong) and Mandarin Hero (Jpn) (Shanghai Bobby) were off representing Japan in age-restricted races from Saudi Arabia to Dubai to the U.S. this winter and spring, Mick Fire (Jpn) (Sinister Minister) remained at home, where the bay colt was being patiently brought along towards his 3-year-old debut.

Mick Fire, acquired for ¥5.5 million at the 2021 Hokkaido Summer Yearling Sale, had earned back his purchase price in easily running the table in three appearances as a juvenile and made a splashy return to the races in the Haneda Hai allowance May 10. In that 1800-meter affair, Mick Fire defeated heavily favoured Hero Call (Jpn) (Hokko Tarumae {Jpn}), who had previously accounted for future GI Runhappy Santa Anita Derby runner-up Mandarin Hero in a similar test back in February.

Wednesday's ¥85 million ($606,730) Tokyo Derby over the metric mile and a quarter served as a course-and-distance allowance prep for the July 12 Listed Japan Dirt Derby, a race that could well attract those Japanese horses that plied their trade overseas earlier in the season, in addition to the highly progressive Yuttitham (Jpn) (Justify).

Sent off the 1-2 favorite in a 15-runner field that also included 5-2 second choice Hero Call, Mick Fire bounced well from the 12 hole and sat a stalking trip from the two path. Hero Call rolled up three deep outside of Mick Fire passing the three-furlong pole, but the latter was always going the better of the two, hit the front with a bit less than a quarter-mile to race and glided home a six-length winner in race-record time.

A son of the 20-year-old Sinister Minister, conditioned by Bob Baffert to a 12 3/4-length victory in the 2006 GI Toyota Blue Grass S., Mick Fire counts 1983 G1 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe heroine and U.S. Horse of the Year, three-time Grade I winner and inaugural GI Breeders' Cup Turf runner-up All Along (Fr) (Targowice) as his third dam.

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