Streaking Sumahama takes Hyacinth, clinches Japan Road to Kentucky Derby

Feb 18, 2018 Kellie Reilly/

Sumahama extended his winning streak to three in Sunday’s Hyacinth S. at Tokyo, earning 30 points in the final scoring race on the Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby. Thereby topping the Japan Road leaderboard, the son of Japanese champion Neo Universe (himself a son of Sunday Silence) has earned an invitation to compete in the May 5 Run for the Roses.

The question of the moment is whether his connections – owner Sanshisuimei Co. Ltd. and trainer Ryo Takahashi – will accept the invitation. Sumahama was not Triple Crown nominated, and he was not among those reportedly interested in becoming a late nominee going into the Hyacinth.

Should Sumahama’s team decline, the Derby invitation would be extended to the next on the leaderboard. That would be Triple Crown nominee Ruggero, whose third in the Hyacinth was good for 6 points, added to the 10 he earned by winning the Cattleya Sho in November, for a total of 16.

Sent off as the favorite in Japan, and as the 7-2 second choice in North America, Sumahama stalked the pace out wide from post 13, and crept closer to early leader Meisho Isana. Regular rider Yusuke Fujioka turned the big chestnut loose in the stretch, and the race was over. Sumahama imposed his authority by 2 1/2 lengths while completing the metric mile in 1:38.50, well off the time of 1:36.0 clocked by top older dirt horses in the February S. (G1) two races later.

Taiki Ferveur got up for second, worth 12 points, to put him third in the Japan Road standings. As a nominee to the March 31 UAE Derby (G2), Taiki Ferveur could still earn Derby points on the main leaderboard in Dubai.

Ruggero checked in another 1 1/2 lengths astern in third, a neck up on Great Time, the North American favorite who scored 3 points in fourth. Both of them are also nominated to the UAE Derby, as are Dark Repulser (fifth), Meisho Isana (sixth), Nishino Trans Am (11th), Bahn Frei (14th), and Meisho Opus (15th).

Sumahama has been unbeatable since his debut fourth at Kyoto November 11. A front-running romper at Hanshin December 10, he followed up in the same style back at Kyoto January 14. His prior races had all come at about 1 1/8 miles, but proved equally effective shortening up in trip here.

The Japanese-bred colt is out of multiple stakes scorer Sound the Beach, a daughter of Canadian Hall of Famer Afleet. 

(Mike Ziegler Photo)

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