U. Carrot Farm’s Nova Lenda extended his winning streak to three in Wednesday’s Zen-Nippon Nisai Yushun at Kawasaki, earning 20 points to become the new leader on the Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby.

The Zen-Nippon Nisai Yushun is the second scoring race in Japan, after the November 24 Cattleya Sho at Tokyo. The Cattleya Sho winner, the filly Make Happy, also competed here, but never appeared to travel as well and wound up fourth behind Nova Lenda at Kawasaki.

A grandson of 1989 Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness (G1) champion Sunday Silence, by his son Daiwa Major, Nova Lenda was dispatched as the 5-1 fifth choice. The Takashi Saito trainee prompted the pace set by Ignacio d’Oro and inherited the lead when that rival began to fade on the far turn.

At that point, 2-1 favorite Gal Vihara (also owned by U. Carrot) rolled up alongside and appeared to have the momentum. But Nova Lenda had more up his sleeve to repel Gal Vihara down the stretch. Then Derma Louvre caught fire late, only too late, and came up a head short at the wire.

Nova Lenda, under jockey Yuichi Kitamura, negotiated the metric mile on a track rated “muddy” in 1:42.8.

Derma Louvre’s near-miss was worth 8 points, while Gal Vihara banked 4 points in third. Fourth-placer Make Happy added 2 points. Combined with her 10 from the Cattleya Sho, Make Happy’s total stands at 12, putting her second overall on the leaderboard.

Nova Lenda is now three-for-four. After pulling up in his September 29 career debut at Hanshin, where he bore out entering the first turn, he’s done everything right. The dark bay employed similar stalk-and-pounce tactics to break his maiden at Niigata October 13 and capture a Kyoto allowance November 17.

Bred by Northern Farm in Japan, Nova Lenda is a full brother to multiple Japanese stakes-placed Blanche Coeur. They are out of the winning Mon Petit Coeur, a daughter of Japanese dirt champion Kurofune.

Can Nova Lenda consolidate his position as the Japan Road points leader? We’ll know after the next scoring race, the Hyacinth S., at Tokyo February 17.