The connections of one horse in Japan will know for sure Feb. 19 whether they can pack their bags for Churchill Downs for the First Saturday in May.
The two-race series that makes up the inaugural Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby culminates Sunday Feb. 19 with the Hyacinth Stakes (1 mile) at Tokyo Racecourse, with the top points scorer earning a start in the Derby.
The current leader, who earned 40 points by winning the Cattleya Sho Nov. 26, is Mont Saint Legame, a Japanese-bred.
Mont Saint Legame’s sire Came Home (by Gone West) won three U.S. grade 1 races, including the Pacific Classic at the Derby distance of 1-¼ miles, but he came up short in his other races at that trip when sixth to War Emblem in the 2002 Kentucky Derby and 10th in Volponi’s 2002 Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Came Home didn’t have much success when retired to Lane’s End Farm, and was subsequently sent to Japan. His best progeny to date are three grade 3 winners, none of which earned those successes past a mile.
Mont Saint Legame’s dam Julia Biko (by Jade Robbery) hasn’t produced black type performers as yet, but her dam Scarlet Rose (by Northern Taste) is a sister to the outstanding broodmare Scarlet Bouquet, dam of champion Japanese sprinter-miler Daiwa Major and champion 3-year-old filly Daiwa Scarlet.
One of Scarlet Rose’s daughters, Scarlet Lady (Sunday Silence), has produced four black type winners, including Vermilion (El Condor Pasa), winner of the 2007 Japan Cup Dirt, then raced over 10-1/2 furlongs.
There is therefore some 1-1/4 mile stamina in Mont Saint Legame’s family; whether he has the requisite stamina remains to be seen.
Mont Saint Legame is nominated for the Hyacinth, which offers 50 points for the winner, 20 for second and 10 for third.