Fourteen set for Japan Road finale in Fukuryu Stakes

Mar 25, 2021 Kellie Reilly/

The Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby concludes with Saturday’s Fukuryu S. at Nakayama. None of the three previous winners in the series will line up, so the about 1 1/8-mile test will produce a new leader with its 40-16-8-4 points structure.
Although Hyacinth S. winner La Perouse is not here, his form looms large. Three are coming off that most recent race on the Japan Road at Tokyo – Hyacinth third-placer Ladybug, who scored six points; sixth Taisei Slugger; and eighth Lord Strom
Ladybug has run well in her three career starts, all versus males. The daughter of Japanese dirt champion Hokko Tarumae dominated a race for newcomers at Hanshin, then finished a half-length second in the Dec. 2 Hyogo Junior Grand Prix at Sonoda. Ladybug boxed on gamely in the Hyacinth, holding off fourth Takeru Pegasus, who’s among the main contenders in Saturday’s UAE Derby (G2). 
Taisei Slugger had broken his maiden over this course and distance and just lasted in a Tokyo allowance in his prior two outings. Lord Strom is also a two-time winner, having crushed an allowance at Kokura before retreating in the Hyacinth. But he’d been well adrift of Hyacinth winner La Perouse in their previous meeting in an allowance here as well. 
Three others were beaten by La Perouse in that same track-and-trip allowance – Glanz Atem (third), Meisho Murakumo (fourth), and T Up Leon (sixth). All three have since come back to win. Glanz Atem bounced back in a Tokyo allowance. T Up Leon, a debut winner over this course and distance, rebounded from his lone loss and turned the tables on Meisho Murakumo here. Meisho Murakumo later went on to score an allowance to become a two-time track-and-trip winner himself.
Taisei Again competed in the second Japan Road scoring race, the Dec. 16 Zen-Nippon Nisai Yushun at Kawasaki, where he earned two points by rallying for fourth. The son of Pyro had won his first two – a Chukyo event for newcomers and an allowance at Tokyo – before disappointing at Mombetsu in November. Perhaps he’s just not as suited to the NAR tracks, and a return to the Japan Racing Association stage could help. 
Giuditta is unbeaten from two starts so far, a newcomers’ race at Hanshin followed by a Chukyo allowance. Both came at this trip over males. God Selection, who has won twice at this distance, comes off a front-running, eight-length allowance romp at Chukyo. Gold Higher, a closing second in his first two starts, has now scored two straight. After breaking his maiden at Chukyo, he rolled by five at Hanshin. Your History has posted both of his wins at Hanshin, including a seven-length allowance conquest in his latest. 
Ca Va, by 2012 Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness (G1) champion I’ll Have Another, is a two-time winner at about seven furlongs. He projects a move forward from a comeback fifth at Chukyo. Miko Black was 10th in that same Chukyo event. Winless since her Kokura maiden victory, Miko Black placed second in last October’s Edelweiss Sho but was a well-beaten 10th in the Japan Road opener, the Cattleya S. Lance of Earth has captured her past two at Kokura, beating fillies in a maiden and just scraping home from the boys in an allowance. 
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