On a banner day for Japanese-breds abroad, the 9-1 Yoshida upset 8-5 favorite Beach Patrol in Saturday’s $500,000 Old Forester Turf Classic (G1) at Churchill Downs. The Heart’s Cry colt became the second grandson of Sunday Silence to score a Grade/Group 1 on the day, following the 2000 Guineas (G1) triumph by Deep Impact’s son Saxon Warrior at Newmarket, and Royal Ascot is now on the cards.
Making his four-year-old debut for Hall of Famer Bill Mott, Yoshida improved as his sire’s progeny tend to do. Jockey Jose Ortiz, in top form after winning the Humana Distaff (G1) aboard American Gal and the Churchill Downs (G2) with Limousine Liberal, reserved Yoshida off the pace but moved at the perfect time to prevent Beach Patrol from stealing a march.
Beach Patrol, also reappearing for the first time since his excellent second in the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1), was perched in a watching second as Shining Copper posted fractions of :24.86, :50.61, and 1:16.44 on the yielding turf. When Beach Patrol advanced on the pacesetter on the far turn, Yoshida followed suit and ranged alongside. Shining Copper could not go on, leaving Beach Patrol and Yoshida to slug it out.
Yoshida put his head in front, but Beach Patrol would not give up that easily and kept trying to claw back the inches. Equally resolute himself, Yoshida would not let him by, ultimately forcing the year-older Beach Patrol to submit by three-quarters of a length.
In this first try outside of his own age group, Yoshida easily turned in the strongest performance of his brief career. The bay colt took :13.05 to cover the last furlong, indicative of the course condition after heavy rains, for a final 1 1/8-mile time of 1:54.64.
Beach Patrol had to settle for second on the Derby Day undercard for the third straight year, after even tougher beats in the 2016 American Turf (G2) and last year’s edition of this race (when dubbed the Woodford Reserve). There was a three-length gap back to Synchrony in third. Next came Arklow, hero of the 2017 American Turf over the same course and distance. Mott’s other runner, Channel Maker, didn’t have plain sailing in fifth. Editore, Camelot Kitten, Kurilov, and Shining Copper rounded out the order under the wire. Aidan O’Brien scratched Deauville once the ground went against the firm-turf lover.
Yoshida is campaigned by China Horse Club, WinStar Farm, and Head of Plains Partners, who are also among the partners involved Kentucky Derby (G1) favorite Justify. A resounding winner of his stakes debut in the James W. Murphy on Preakness Day at Pimlico, he was fifth in the Belmont Derby Invitational (G1) and a close second in the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame (G2) and Saranac (G2). Yoshida took a step forward to land the Hill Prince (G3) when last seen on October 7, and this first Grade 1 coup advanced his resume to 8-4-3-0, $846,700.
Bred by Northern Farm in Japan, Yoshida was sold for ¥94 million (approximately $761,400) as a yearling at the Japan Racing Horse Association Select Sale in July 2015. He is the second foal from Hilda’s Passion, a high-class sprinter who crowned her career in the 2011 Ballerina (G1). The Canadian Frontier mare was purchased by Katsumi Yoshida for $1.225 million at Fasig-Tipton Kentucky that November. This is the extended family of Hall of Famer Damascus, and more recently, U.S. champion Banshee Breeze and European champion Twice Over.
Yoshida holds an early entry in the June 19 Queen Anne (G1) down the straight mile at Royal Ascot, a target that Mott indicated connections would like to pursue.