Three outstanding runs as a 2-year-old suggest Le Vent Se Leve has the potential to represent Japan very well in the 2018 Kentucky Derby should he qualify.
Le Vent Se Leve began his career with a maiden race over 1 1/8 miles at Niigata Aug. 13, racing seven lengths clear of Big Smoky. He returned Oct. 14 for the Platanus Sho at Tokyo racecourse, where he again was in a different class, scoring by 2 ½ lengths in track record time for a juvenile.
That was enough for Le Vent Se Leve to be sent to Japan’s most important juvenile race for dirt horses, the Zen-Nippon Nisai Yushun, held on the NAR circuit racecourse of Kawasaki. In the second half of the field early on, Le Vent Se Leve made a lightning dash toward the lead around the final turn under jockey Mirco Demuro, and he easily held off the fast-finishing Don Fortis (Henny Hughes), who was previously unbeaten.
Le Vent Se Leve is by the U.S.-bred Symboli Kris S (Kris S), who was Japanese Horse of the Year in 2002 and 2003. At stud he’s been a valuable outcross to Sunday Silence and he’s produced more than 25 stakes winners, the best being Epiphaneia, winner of the 1 ½-mile Japan Cup (G1). He’s also the sire of the high-quality Japanese dirt horse Success Brocken, whose victories include the 1 1/8-mile February Stakes (G1).
The unbeaten colt’s dam is Maestrale, who won four races on dirt in Japan, all at 1 1/8 miles. She is one of nine winners to date – none at stakes level – produced by Autumn Breeze, a mare by 1995 Preakness Stakes winner Timber Country.
Maestrale’s sire is the champion Japanese 3-year-old colt Neo Universe (Sunday Silence), winner of the 1 ½-mile Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby); his progeny include Victoire Pisa, winner of the 1 ¼-mile Dubai World Cup (G1) and the 1 9/16-mile Arima Kinen (G1), and Neorealism, victorious in the 1 ¼-mile Hong Kong Queen Elizabeth II Cup (G1).
In his races to date, Le Vent Se Leve generally settles midfield or further back before sprinting hard around the final turn, and he may need to improve his gate speed. As far as stamina goes, there’s a lot to suggest he’ll go 1 ¼ miles, both in his pedigree and in his debut victory at 1 1/8 miles.
Le Vent Se Leve will be favored to win the Japanese Road to the Kentucky Derby in the last race of the series, the Hyacinth Stakes in February. The quality of dirt horses coming from Japan is always difficult to assess, but if Le Vent Se Leve does make it, he looks to have more potential than most.
(Le Vent Se Leve photo by Akihiro Takeda/Churchill Downs)