When the initial Triple Crown nominations were announced in early February, the cast of 312 included 21 Japanese horses, including a colt with a 2-for-2 record named Crown Pride.
Although Crown Pride disappointed a couple of weeks later, finishing sixth in the February 20 Hyacinth Stakes in Japan, it proved on March 26 at Meydan Racecourse why it was eligible for the American Stakes, defeating an international field in Group 2 of $1 million from the United Arab Emirates. Derby sponsored by Mubadala. The 3-year-old son of Reach the Crown launched a blistering rally into the second corner and picked up the pace of Summer Is Tomorrow down the stretch for a 2 3/4-length win.
The UAE Derby, the only international race in the main Road to the Kentucky Derby series, offered qualifying points on a scale of 100-40-20-10 to its top four finishers, provided they are nominated for or eventually win the Triple Crown. be.
So, with 100 qualifying points for the May 7 Grade 1 Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve at Churchill Downs, Crown Pride has essentially secured entry to the often oversubscribed race. A representative for the owner of Crown Pride expressed his interest Saturday in participating in the Derby.
If he makes it to Kentucky, he wouldn’t be the first Japanese horse to compete in the Triple Crown. Lani came from Japan to place ninth in the 2016 Kentucky Derby, fifth in the Preakness Stakes and third in the Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets.
Then in 2019 Master Fencer finished sixth following Maximum Security’s disqualification in the 2019 Derby and then was fifth at Belmont.
Master Fencer, son of Just a Way, was the first Japanese-bred horse to run in the Derby. Lani, from Tapit, was born in Kentucky.
While Master Fencer competed in Japanese races immediately prior to the 2019 Triple Crown, Lani, like Crown Pride, captured the UAE Derby prior to their excursion to the United States.
It would seem that Crown Pride is just as talented as Master Fencer and Lani, if not better, based on their performance in the UAE.
Caught up in the break on Saturday night, he quickly recovered with Australian driver Damian Lane to run some three or four lengths off the initial pace set by Summer Is Tomorrow, with American Pinehurst chasing him in second with a close assist. Three wide on the first turn and four wide on the second, Crown Pride then closed from sixth to catch most of those in front of him.
That is, everyone except Summer Is Tomorrow, who still had a clear lead with 300 meters remaining in the 1,900-meter race (about 1 3/16 miles). But the leader began to weaken in the middle of the final straight, and Crown Pride proved to be superior in the last 200 meters.
“I was very confident to turn from about the (remaining 600m mark),” said Lane, riding on Dubai World Cup night for the first time. “He just leveled off when I put in around 300; I started to worry, but when (Summer Is Tomorrow) got tired, he didn’t.”
The winner was timed at 1:59.76, returning a mutual payout of $34.90 on simulcast wagers offered in the United States.
The runner-up and winner are under consideration for the Kentucky Derby, their connections indicated immediately after the UAE Derby.
Bhupat Seemar, trainer for the runner-up Summer Is Tomorrow, said: “I would definitely consider the Kentucky Derby, but first of all I would have to see if it’s nominated or not. That’s the most important thing. Why not? There were some good horses behind it. him, a couple of US grade 1 horses, so now that he’s had that run, I think we’d have to think about it.”
Summer Is Tomorrow was not an original Triple Crown nominee, though it may be with a back payment of $6,000, which is due March 28.
UAE Derby favorites Combustion and Pinehurst were unqualified. The latter was relieved by jockey Flavien Prat after weakening coming out of the second lap.
Explaining his recovery from the Hyacinth, winning trainer Koichi Shintani said the longer UAE distance was more suitable for the colt owned by Teruya Yoshida.
“The distance was too short,” he said of the mile-long Hyacinth.
Asked about his feelings on the night of the Dubai World Cup, which included a series of winning efforts by Japanese runners on the undercard, Sintani responded with a smile: “It’s perfect.”
Lane expressed his appreciation for being invited to ride for Sintani.
“I mean, coming here from Australia and joining the Japanese, it’s a bit surreal,” he said. “I’m grateful to be a part of their racing and then to be able to travel with their horses, especially.”
Bred in Japan by Shadai Farm, Crown Pride is the first colt to run from Emmy’s Pride, a mare by King Kamehameha. The foal’s second dam, Emmy’s Smile, was a stakes winner in Japan.