The 2017 Cattleya Show as run on Saturday, November 25th out of Tokyo Racecourse as the first leg of the Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby series sophomore year. The Cattleya Sho offered dividends of 10-4-2-1 points toward earning an automatic birth in the Kentucky Derby.
Two-year-old colt Ruggero held on for the win as a 7⁄2 outsider. He was trailed at the wire by 24⁄1 longshot Mic Ben Hur and 5⁄2 second choice Meiner Yukitsubaki.
This was a surprising result given that Weltall was rated as a very strong 4⁄5 favorite by race time. He finished 5th behind Bronze Key. Apostle, Lady of the Lake and Morito Yuba rounded out the order.
Covering a distance of just one mile, the 2017 Cattleya Sho was run on dirt and clocked at 1:38.20 for Ruggero.
The 2018 Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby has gone from two legs to three this year in hopes of expanding interest. The 2017 Zen-Nippon Nisai Yushun will run next on December 13th out of Kawasaki and offer the same 17 points that the first leg did. The final installment will be the 2018 Hyacinth, which is run at Tokyo Racecourse again.
It’s worth noting that the Cattleya Sho winner has never made an appearance in the Kentucky Derby itself. The winner will be determined by aggregate over the course of the three legs. If the highest point earner chooses to forego the trip to Churchill Downs in 2018, the spot will be offered to the second highest in the standings and then the third.
Japanese horses have traditionally not made impacts in the Triple Crown. The most memorable was Lani, a peculiar speedster from the Land of the Rising Sun who would finish 9th in the 2016 Kentucky Derby, 5th in the Preakness and 3rd in the Kentucky Derby.
The effort to generate more interest in a Thoroughbred racing hotbed like Japan has yet to produce a horse that competes at a high level consistently in the United States, but there are a lot of reasons for Triple Crown to remain invested overseas in Japan. There’s a ton of money and breeding that happens in the country.
It remains to be seen if Ruggero is the horse that will make the migration, but he will be one of the lead horses when the 2018 Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby continues onwards.
|6||Mic Ben Hur (JPN)|
|4||Meiner Yukitsubaki (JPN)|
|Ruggero (JPN) 7-2|
|Mic Ben Hur (JPN) 24-1|
|Meiner Yukitsubaki (JPN) 5-2|