Determined not to come up short for a third straight time, Yoshida split rivals near the wire of Saturday’s $500,000 Hill Prince Stakes (G3) at Belmont Park to secure a close neck victory under jockey Manny Franco.
The Bill Mott trainee just missed in his past two attempts when against graded rivals, finishing a neck back in the Saranac Stakes (G3) and three parts of a length behind in the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame Stakes (G2).
On Saturday, the Heart’s Cry sophomore tracked in third along the rail as Secretary at War led the way through splits of :24.21, :49.11 and 1:13.07. Frostmourne maintained close contact just off the pacesetter’s flank while Lucullan took up position outside of Yoshida.
Secretary at War continued up front rounding the turn but the rest of the field was drawing closer including 3-2 favorite and Hall of Fame winner Bricks and Mortar. That dark bay colt squeezed up beside Yoshida just as Frostmourne came in and Secretary at War drifted out a bit. A ping pong effect saw Yoshida, and Bricks and Mortar leaning on each other as they pressed between Frostmourne and Secretary at War with Lucullan closing fast on the outside.
Yoshida continued powering between his rivals and got up to score in a final time of 1:47.07 for nine furlongs on the firm inner turf. Lucullan proved best in second by a half-length, while only a neck separated Bricks and Mortar in third from Frostmourne in fourth.
Secretary at War followed another 1 1/2 lengths behind in fifth, while completing the order of finish were Rocketry, Small Bear, Ticonderoga and Hieroglyphics.
The tight quarters and bumping in the stretch run prompted a stewards’ inquiry, but after reviewing the video no changes were made.
Yoshida is now 7-3-3-0 in his career and more than doubled his lifetime earnings to $549,100 with this win. Campaigned by WinStar Farm, China Horse Club International Ltd., SF Racing LLC and Head of Plains Partners, the bay colt ran second in his debut at Aqueduct last November and broke his maiden when returning to make his sophomore bow on April 9 at Keeneland by four lengths.
Yoshida immediately jumped up to face stakes rivals, and passed that test with flying colors when taking the James W. Murphy Stakes at Laurel Park on May 20 by four lengths. He tried graded company in the Belmont Derby Invitational (G1) next out and finished fifth, but rebounded to be second in the Hall of Fame and Saranac in his past pair.
Bred in Japan by Northern Farm, Yoshida is out of the Grade 1-winning Canadian Frontier mare Hilda’s Passion and comes from the same female line as champion Banshee Breeze and European champion Twice Over.
HILL PRINCE QUOTES
Bill Mott, trainer Yoshida, winner
“We got the benefit of saving the ground today and that didn’t hurt him. The horse and rider both showed good courage. The rider showed good patience and when he asked him he had enough horse to get in there. It looks like Bricks and Mortar went for the same hole and we were able to get there first. Actually it looked like Frostmourne came over a little bit and crowded both of us.”
Manny Franco, jockey Yoshida, winner
“I rode with a lot of confidence, as Bill told me. I expected to be third or fourth, saving ground, covering the horse up, like I did, and just waiting for the hole. By the eighth-pole, we (himself and Joel Rosario aboard Bricks and Mortar) were going for the same spot, but I had a lot of horse and my horse took off and went through. We were going to the same spot, but I had more horse than him so I got his spot.”
Chad Brown, trainer Bricks and Mortar, second
“He had a rough trip out there. I thought it would open up for him (in the late stretch). I thought he was best.”
Kiaran McLaughlin, trainer Lucullan, third
“He ran very well, we’re happy with the race. It was a big step up from just winning an allowance other than to a graded stakes with very nice horses. We ran great and we’re happy with it.”