Saratoga has produced yet another dual surface Grade 1 winner. One week after Catholic Boy followed up his Belmont Derby (G1) victory on turf with a score in the Travers (G1), Yoshida landed the $750,000 Woodward (G1) in his dirt debut against 13 rivals on Saturday. The score came four months after Yoshida registered a season-opening triumph in the Old Forester Turf Classic (G1) at Churchill Downs.
Under Joel Rosario, Yoshida saved ground most of the way from post 1, moved off the rail around the far turn and made a nine-wide rally entering the stretch. Full of run through the lane, Yoshida inhaled the leaders late and won by two lengths in a time of 1:48.94 for nine furlongs on a fast track.
Owned by WinStar Farm, China Horse Club, SF Racing, and Head of Plains Partners, Yoshida paid $14.40. Gunnevera, the 3-1 favorite rallied late for second, nosing out Leofric, who had traded leads throughout with fourth-place finisher Rally Cry. Completing the order of finish were Patch, Term of Art, Hence, Tapwrit, Sunny Ridge, Zanotti, Kurilov, Discreet Lover, Seeking the Soul and Imperative.
This was the third stakes win on the day for Rosario, who took the Spinaway (G1) with Sippican Harbor and the Saranac (G3) with Raging Bull. This was trainer Bill Mott’s fourth career Woodward following victories by Cigar (1995-96) and To Honor and Serve (2012).
“Well, we got our answer,” said Mott. “I had a wait-and-see attitude (about the switch from turf). The horse had worked well on the dirt. As I said before, he’s got a lot of pedigree for the dirt. His mother won the Ballerina (G1) here and (his sire is) a son of Sunday Silence, who won two legs of the Triple Crown – the Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness (G1). He went well. This was a pretty impressive run, actually. I don’t think you ever really know how they’ll run on a surface until you try them.
“Elliot Walden (of WinStar Farm) has been wanting to try it for a long time. We talked about it and Yoshida has been running so well on the turf and he’s a Grade 1 winner on the turf, so you can’t say we made a mistake by not running him on the dirt. We were going to do it, it was just a matter of the opportune time, and right now there was no turf race that we had in mind in the next 30 days so we thought let’s do it.”
Following the Turf Classic on Kentucky Derby Day, Yoshida was subsequently fifth in both the Queen Anne (G1) at Royal Ascot and Fourstardave H. (G1) at Saratoga. Last season, Yoshida captured the $100,000 James W. Murphy at Pimlico and Hill Prince (G3) at Belmont Park. He also lost narrowly in the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame (G2) and Saranac (G3). Yoshida moves on with a career mark of 11-5-3-0, $1,289,770.
“There’s a lot of people involved to say where he might run next,” Mott said. “He’s a Grade 1 winner on the dirt and he’s a Grade 1 winner on the turf. We’ll definitely talk about our options, after seeing this, the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) would have to be on the table you’d think. He’s a Grade 1 winner going a mile and an eighth on the turf. We haven’t won going a mile and quarter, but after today you’d have to start thinking of his options.”
Bred in Japan by Northern Farm, Yoshida is by Heart’s Cry and out of Hilda’s Passion, by Canadian Frontier.