Japanese legend Lord Kanaloa, who twice ran away with the Hong Kong Sprint (G1) in 2012-13, made his presence felt again in Sunday’s $2.8 million dash, through his son Danon Smash. By prevailing in a blanket finish of longshots, the 22-1 chance joined his sire as the only Japanese shippers to upstage the locals in this race.
Trained like Lord Kanaloa by Takayuki Yasuda, Danon Smash was giving jockey Ryan Moore a rapid-fire double after Mogul in the Hong Kong Vase (G1). The Danox Co. Ltd. colorbearer was earning his first Group 1 tally, but he’d placed in the past two runnings of the Sprinters (G1).
Danon Smash’s odds reflected a combination of factors – his eighth here last December; his far outside post 14; the historic dominance of the Hong Kongers, led this time by 11-10 favorite Hot King Prawn; and the presence of Everest hero Classique Legend, who garnered plenty of respect despite his rushed preparation.
As it turned out, the market leaders disappointed, and Danon Smash worked out a good trip after all. Able to tack over and get cover early, the 5-year-old sat just about midpack. Up front, Big Time Baby flashed speed until backpedaling into the stretch. Big Party took over but was soon headed by fellow pace-presser Voyage Warrior, who was in turn beset on both flanks by Computer Patch and Hot King Prawn.
Then Danon Smash kicked into gear. Wearing down the battling group, he got the jump on the deep closers who were arriving on the scene. The 83-1 Jolly Banner found a seam belatedly to miss by a half-length. The 22-1 Rattan finished with a flourish a neck away in third, edging 41-1 fourth-placer Wishful Thinker who motored fastest of all in :22.25.
The longest shot on the board at 143-1, Fat Turtle, belied his name by catching Computer Patch for fifth. Hot King Prawn appeared to be in the right spot drafting behind the early leaders, but the favorite lacked his usual punch in seventh. Next came Voyage Warrior; Amazing Star; Stronger; Classique Legend, never involved in an uncharacteristically tame effort; Big Party; Tower of London; and Big Time Baby, who was found to have bled from both nostrils.
Danon Smash clocked about 6 furlongs in 1:08.45 to improve his scorecard to 22-10-3-1. In career form this season, the bay won his first Grade 2 title in the May 16 Keio Hai Spring Cup (G2) and added the Sept. 13 Centaur (G2). His other graded coups came in the 2018 Keihan Hai (G3); 2019 Silk Road (G3) and Keeneland Cup (G3); and the Mar. 7 Ocean (G3). Danon Smash was complimenting champion filly Gran Alegria, who beat him last time in the Oct. 4 Sprinters.
“I think when he got the draw, we were all possibly a bit worried,” Moore said.
“We got lucky. He stepped very well and we managed to slot into a lovely spot. I was always happy and when the pace steadied around the bend, I was able to just move out and keep moving forward and he got there in plenty of time.
“He was very tough and very honest. He was a pleasure to ride and he’d shown very good form at times in Japan’s best sprints and at 7 furlongs as well. He’s won some of the best races at Group 2 level and he deserved to win his Group 1.
“I’m delighted and just thankful for being asked to ride him and I also need to thank the owners Danox and Mr. Yasuda certainly knows how to prepare a sprinter for a Hong Kong Sprint.”
In addition to having Lord Kanaloa as his sire, Danon Smash is well-bred on his dam’s side as well. He is out of the Hard Spun mare Spinning Wildcat, a half-sister to 2000 Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) hero War Chant, Group 2 victor Ivan Denisovich, and multiple Grade 3-placed stakes scorer Ministers Wildcat. Thus Danon Smash’s second dam is champion Hollywood Wildcat, famous for outdueling Paseana in the 1993 Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1).