Panthalassa A First Saudi Cup Winner for Japan

Panthalassa | Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia


Going into Saturday's Saudi Cup meeting at King Abdulaziz Racecourse in Riyadh, there was approximately one way that this year's results could better the massive success achieved by Japan in 2022. And who better to orchestrate it but trainer Yoshito Yahagi, who has won major races everywhere with the possible exception of Mars, as Hiroo Race Co. Ltd's Panthalassa (Jpn) (Lord Kanaloa {Jpn}), one of six top-shelf gallopers signed on from the Land of the Rising Sun and making just the second start of an already successful career on the dirt, led from flagfall to finish for a maiden Japanese victory in the world's richest horse race.

Following Wednesday's post position draw, Yahagi declared himself pleased enough with having been assigned the one hole, saying simply, 'gotta go.' And jockey Yutaka Yoshida followed the script to a 'T', kicking the entire straight into the lead, as G1 Satsuki Sho hero Geoglyph (Jpn) (Drefong), an unknown commodity on the dirt, raced closest in attendance to the pace, while 'TDN Rising Star' Taiba (Gun Runner) was pulled out wide to stalk that pair. Traveling like a seasoned main-track horse while racing a few paths off the rail into the turn, Panthalassa skipped along comfortably and hit the quarter pole with a clear advantage over Geoglyph. By this stage, Taiba had hoisted the white flag, and at one point with about a quarter mile to the finish, the top four spots were occupied by the Japanese. Geoglyph boxed on very gamely and dual G1 February S. hero Cafe Pharoah (American Pharoah) loomed a brief threat between rivals after being steered down the inside 800 metres out by Joao Moreira, but Panthalassa kept finding and was home narrowly best.

Country Grammer (Tonalist) was trapped out about five wide for much of the journey, and he looked to be struggling beneath Frankie Dettori as the field hit the final three furlongs. But in a manner similar to last year's G1 Dubai World Cup, he found his second wind and rattled home down the centre  of the track to set him up beautifully for a return trip to Meydan next month. He was also second to Emblem Road (Quality Road) in last year's race.

“At the top of the straight, I thought, 'Oh god, I'm going to finish sixth' but he just has too much heart,” Dettori said. “He wants a mile and a quarter [2000m]. Super result.”

Cafe Pharoah edged Geoglyph for third, completing a 6-year-old trifecta, while Crown Pride (Jpn) (Reach the Crown {Jpn}) made for a 1-3-4-5 finish for Japan. These winning connections also celebrated the 1351 Turf Sprint with Bathrat Leon (Jpn) (Kizuna {Jpn}).

“Mr Yahagi said to me to ride my race and I would get a good result,” commented the 47-year-old Yoshida, who was in the saddle for Panthalassa's dead-heat victory in last year's G1 Dubai Turf. “So, I didn't think about the surface. I just rode my race and thought if he adapts to the track, it would be all right. Of course, they were coming for me in the straight, but Panthalassa always found another gear and so I kept riding. It is an unforgettable moment and I am very happy to have ridden the winner.”

Yahagi added: “I really can't believe it. I don't know if it is real at the moment. I think I was correct that my feeling was right that he could handle the dirt. You know this is not easy. Japanese racing tries everything to improve and develop. Japanese horse racing has become more international. Of course, this is the best feeling as the prize-money is the best!”

Yahagi's international conquests are now well-documented, but bear repeating. Having sent out Deep Brillante (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}) to win the 2012 G1 Tokyo Yushun at home, Yahagi saddled Real Steel (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}) to victory in the 2016 Dubai Turf. In 2019, Lys Gracieux (Jpn) (Heart's Cry {Jpn}) gave the stable a memorable success in the G1 Cox Plate in Melbourne, while in 2021, Real Steel's full-sister Loves Only You (Jpn) won a pair of Group 1s in Hong Kong and was one of two landmark winners for Yahagi and Japan at that year's Breeders' Cup meeting at Del Mar. At last year's Saudi Cup meeting, he added the G3 Longines Red Sea H. with Stay Foolish (Jpn) (Stay Gold {Jpn}), who would go on to take the G2 Dubai Gold Cup four weeks later in Dubai, one of three winners on the evening for Yahagi.

Victorious in the G2 Nakayama Kinen last February as a springboard to the Dubai Turf, Panthalassa found Titleholder (Jpn) (Duramente {Jpn}) and–likely–the 11 furlongs of the G1 Takarazuka Kinen a task too tall, finishing 11th in that June 26 test. Outgamed by the flashy Jack d'Or (Jpn) (Maurice {Jpn}) in August's G2 Sapporo Kinen over 2000 metres, the bay opened a lead of as many as 15 lengths in the G1 Tenno Sho (Autumn) at Toyko Oct. 30 and fought on bravely into deep stretch before being reeled in by eventual Horse of the Year Equinox (Jpn) (Kitasan Black {Jpn}). A well-bet 24-5 in the G1 Longines Hong Kong Cup in December, he failed to produce anything close to his best and finished well down the field.

Pedigree Notes:

Panthalassa's Saudi Cup is yet another feather in the cap of the outstanding Lord Kanaloa, who has sired Group 1 winners over sprint trips (Danon Smash {Jpn}, Tagaloa {Aus}), going a mile (Stelvio {Jpn}, Danon Scorpion {Jpn}) and Classic winners (Horse of the Year and Filly Triple Crown heroine Almond Eye {Jpn} and Saturnalia {Jpn}) from just six crops of racing age. Panthalassa is the stallion's first Group 1 winner on dirt.

Panthalassa is one of five winners from eight to the races for his dam, a 50,000gns purchase by the BBA Ireland at Tattersalls October in 2003 who was twice third from seven trips to the races in Japan as a 3-year-old before being retired. Miss Pemberley, whose female family includes the likes of Croco Rouge (Ire) and Alidiva (Ire), has a 2-year-old colt by Kizuna (Jpn) and her last listed produce is a yearling colt by Rey de Oro (Jpn), a Tokyo Yushun-winning son of Lord Kanaloa's late sire King Kamehameha (Jpn).

Saturday, King Abdulaziz (Riyadh), Saudi Arabia
SAUDI CUP-G1, $20,000,000, King Abdulaziz, 2-25, 4yo/up, 1800m, 1:50.80, ft.
1–PANTHALASSA (JPN), 126, h, 6, by Lord Kanaloa (Jpn)
1st Dam: Miss Pemberley (Ire), by Montjeu (Ire)
2nd Dam: Stitching (Ire), by High Estate (Ire)
3rd Dam: Itching (Ire), by Thatching (Ire)
O-Hiroo Race Co Ltd; B-PANGLOSS Y K, Toshihiro Hirosaki et al; T-Yoshito Yahagi; J-Yutaka Yoshida; $10,000,000. Lifetime Record: G1SW-UAE, MGSW & G1SP-Jpn, 25-7-6-0, $14,418,903. *1/2 to Etendard (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}), GSP-Jpn, $770,677; and Dimension (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}), MGSP-Jpn, $1,030,766. Werk Nick Rating: B. Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree. Click for the free catalog-style pedigree.
2–Country Grammer, 126, h, 6, Tonalist–Arabian Song, by Forestry. ($60,000 Ylg '18 KEESEP; $450,000 2yo '19 OBSAPR; $110,000 HRA '21 KEEJAN). O-Zedan Racing Stables, WinStar Farm & Commonwealth Thoroughbreds; B-Scott & Debbie Pierce (KY); T-Bob Baffert; J-Frankie Dettori; $3,500,000.
3–Cafe Pharoah, 126, h, 6, American Pharoah–Mary's Follies, by More Than Ready. ($475,000 2yo '19 OBSMAR). O-Koichi Nishikawa; B-Paul P Pompa (KY); T-Noriyuki Hori; J-Joao Moreira; $2,000,000.
Margins: 3/4, HF, HD. Odds: 15-1, 7-2, 14-1.
Also Ran: Geoglyph (Jpn), Crown Pride (Jpn), Emblem Road, Jun Light Bolt (Jpn), Taiba, Remorse (Ire), Lagertha Rhyme (Ire), Vin de Garde (Jpn), Sunset Flash (Ire), Scotland Yard.


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