Takeru Pegasus nearly wired the first race on the Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby, the Nov. 28 Cattleya Stakes, only to be run down late by Lemon Pop. Sunday’s Hyacinth Stakes is held over the same metric mile at Tokyo, and with no Lemon Pop in the line-up, Takeru Pegasus will try to go one better.
A nine-length maiden winner here Nov. 7, Takeru Pegasus earned four points for his runner-up effort in the Cattleya. The Yukihiro Kato trainee was 10 lengths clear of the rest that day. A similar performance would make him the top threat in the Hyacinth, which is worth triple the points – 30-12-6-3 to the respective top four.
But it’s noteworthy that jockey Christophe Lemaire isn’t aboard this time. Instead, Yuga Kawada picks up the mount on Takeru Pegasus, and Lemaire rides La Perouse
, the lone Triple Crown nominee
in the field. On an upward curve for trainer Kazuo Fujisawa, La Perouse comes off a Nakayama allowance score. That followed a productive stint at Mombetsu, where he won two of three and honed his rallying style.
Aside from Takeru Pegasus, the only other Hyacinth entrant already seen on the Japan Road is Bakushin
, fifth in the Dec. 16 Zen-Nippon Nisai Yushun at Kawasaki
. The Henny Hughes colt had fared much better at Tokyo, however, winning both of his local starts last fall. Fellow Tokyo maiden winner Probatio
, who flopped in Bakushin’s allowance victory, rebounded in his latest at Nakayama.
Fillies Ladybug and Zenno Ange had placed second and third, respectively, versus males in the Dec. 2 Hyogo Junior Grand Prix at Sonoda. Zenno Ange has more experience, having previously won two straight, a Chukyo maiden and Kyoto allowance, while Ladybug scored first up at Hanshin.
Taisei Slugger brings a two-race streak into his listed stakes debut. Runner-up in his first pair of starts, he graduated at Nakayama before posting a 31-1 upset in an allowance at this track and trip. Gempachi Forza, most recently third to Taisei Slugger, had captured a newcomers' event in his prior outing.
Rounding out the Hyacinth dozen are Lord Strom, seventh behind La Perouse at Nakayama but subsequently a romper at Kokura; Hokko Karyu, who just got up to edge fellow fillies in a sprint allowance at Chukyo; Daishin Pisces, who went to Kawasaki to earn his first win in his fifth attempt; and Kojikun, who sprang a 127-1 shock to break his maiden at Nakayama in his first start as a gelding.
The Hyacinth is slated as the 9TH race, with a post time of 12:25 a.m. late Saturday night into early Sunday (ET). The featured February S. (G1), a “Win and You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1), follows as the 11TH race at 1:40 a.m. (ET), and you can watch and wager on Tokyo’s card at TwinSpires.com.
The concluding race on the Japan Road, the Mar. 27 Fukuryu at Nakayama, offers points on a 40-16-8-4 basis to determine the final standings on the leaderboard - and who receives the invitation to Derby 147.