May 19, 2024

Peptide Nile stuns Breeders’ Cup WAYI February

Jockey Yusuke Fujioka celebrates aboard 38-1 shot Peptide Nile in the February at Tokyo (Photo by Tomoya Moriuchi/Horsephotos.com)

With last year’s champion, Lemon Pop, leading the Japanese charge on the Saudi Cup (G1), Sunday’s February (G1) at Tokyo had a more open look. Even so, few could have foreseen the magnitude of the upset in store, as 38-1 longshot Peptide Nile prevailed in this “Win and You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1).

The six-year-old veteran had posted his only prior stakes victories at the listed level, in the June 25 Onuma S. at Hakodate and the Dec. 28 Betelgeuse S. at Hanshin. Yet to garner a graded placing in his three previous attempts, Peptide Nile was most recently sixth in the Jan. 21 Tokai TV Hai Tokai (G2) at Kyoto. He picked an opportune time to hit a new career high, handing trainer Hidenori Take his first Grade 1 laurel.

Jockey Yusuke Fujioka had Peptide Nile well placed early, securing an outside stalking position. Fellow longshot Don Frankie sped forward to set a fast pace that may have undermined the pursuing Wilson Tesoro and Dura Erede, who were also two prime contenders on paper.

The respective second and third choices, Wilson Tesoro and Dura Erede had filled the minor awards behind Lemon Pop in the Dec. 3 Champions Cup (G1). They replicated their second- and third-place result in the Dec. 29 Tokyo Daishoten (G1), succumbing to defending champion Ushba Tesoro (another bound for Saudi). Those formlines failed to hold up here, as Dura Erede soon faded from contention, and Wilson Tesoro ultimately wilted down the lane.

Peptide Nile, however, kept on motoring to strike the front. The closers weren’t making enough of an impact to catch the improbable leader, who maintained a 1 1/4-length margin at the wire. Peptide Nile covered the metric mile in 1:35.7.

“The pace was tough,” Fujioka said, “but he ran a great race. We were able to sit in a better position than expected, but I didn’t imagine he would take over the lead that early and that easily. The wire seemed very far today.

“His last start didn’t turn out as hoped, but as long as he’s able to run in good rhythm as he did today, I’m sure we can look forward to solid performances in the future.”

Also able to look forward is runner-up Gaia Force, a Grade 2 winner on turf who delivered a fine effort in his dirt debut. Sekifu came from the clouds to snatch third. Tagano Beauty checked in fourth, followed by King’s Sword.

High-class sprinter Red le Zele ripped from last into sixth for retiring trainer Takayuki Yasuda. Second here last year, Red le Zele was making his fourth straight appearance in this race. Next came Mick Fire, Wilson Tesoro, Don Frankie, Alpha Mom, Igniter, Dura Erede, Speedy Kick, favored Omega Guiness, Karate, and Champagne Color.

Omega Guiness was coming out of the same prep as Peptide Nile, having finished second in the aforementioned Tokai. The hitherto progressive four-year-old threw in the worst race of his life here.

Peptide Nile’s breakout performance improved his mark to 20-8-1-1. Bred by Kineusu Bokujo and owned by Kazuhiko Numakawa, the bay is a son of King Kamehameha and the Manhattan Cafe mare Queen Olive. Peptide Nile’s fourth dam is Grade 1 vixen My Darling One.

Earlier on the card, Ramjet sprang a milder upset in the Hyacinth S. on the Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby. Rallying from last, the 12.90-1 chance picked up 30 points to take over the top spot on the Japanese leaderboard. Ramjet’s time for the metric mile, 1:36.3, wasn’t far off the 1:35.7 posted by Peptide Nile.

As a Koji Maeda homebred who is nominated to the Triple Crown, Ramjet could have an interest in a stateside venture. Complete details are available in the Hyacinth recap at kentuckyderby.com.