May 25, 2024

Loves Only You earns historic Breeders’ Cup victory for Japan in Filly & Mare Turf

Loves Only You wins the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf at Del Mar (Photo by Horsephotos)

Caught behind traffic turning for home and still fourth in deep stretch, Japan’s hope Loves Only You was running out of time in Saturday’s $1.84 million Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) at Del Mar. But the Yoshito Yahagi mare turned on the afterburners for Yuga Kawada, zoomed between My Sister Nat and War Like Goddess, and scored an historic first Breeders’ Cup win for a Japanese-based contender.

Appropriately enough for fulfilling a longtime dream of Japanese racing fans, Loves Only You races for DMM Dream Club Co., and she is a matrilineal descendant of two-time Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) legend Miesque. By Deep Impact and out of the Storm Cat mare Loves Only Me, the five-year-old is a full sister to Real Steel, who captured the 2016 Dubai Turf (G1) for Yahagi.

Loves Only You sports a hood in the preliminaries, but not in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (Photo by Horsephotos)

The 4.30-1 chance secured perfect early position drafting just off the pace. As expected, Going to Vegas showed the way through splits of :24.26, :47.83, 1:13.06, and 1:38.20, tracked by Dogtag and Pocket Square. Love, the 3.10-1 second choice, was racing in proximity to Loves Only You until the race developed on the final turn.

As Dogtag and Pocket Square were passing Going to Vegas, 2.30-1 favorite War Like Goddess was rolling up in an arguably premature bid from far back. Love was beginning her move around the same time, and as a result, Loves Only You found herself behind a wall of horses entering the stretch.

War Like Goddess took command, and Love stuck to her inside, offering the prospect of a stretch battle. But the 29.90-1 My Sister Nat, the half-sister to 2018 Filly & Mare Turf champion Sistercharlie, followed in War Like Goddess’s wake and erupted down the lane to join the fray. Love could not sustain her bid, and the trophy was coming down to the two American-based runners.

Then Loves Only You hit top gear to split them in the final yards. Up in time by a half-length, she negotiated 1 3/8 miles in 2:13.87 and returned $10.60.

My Sister Nat nearly put her dam, Starlet’s Sister, in the exclusive club of broodmares responsible for two Breeders’ Cup winners. The Chad Brown trainee signed off at the top of her game, gaining revenge on War Like Goddess by a head.

War Like Goddess, who had beaten My Sister Nat handily in the Flower Bowl (G1) and Glens Falls (G2), settled for third. Love dropped to fourth, another 1 1/2 lengths back.

Defending champion Audarya wound up a hard-charging fifth, after having a tough tactical hand to play from post 12. Able to save ground early, she ended up getting buried further back on the rail, and by the time she got into the clear in the stretch, the race was over. Ocean Road was a creditable sixth, followed by Rougir, Pocket Square, Acanella, Dogtag, Going to Vegas, and the tailed-off Queen Supreme.

Yuga Kawada celebrates aboard Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf winner Loves Only You (Photo by Horsephotos)

Bred by Northern Farm and sold for about $880,000 as a yearling at Japan’s July Sale, Loves Only You has compiled a 15-7-2-3 record with a bankroll of approximately $6.5 million. She captured the 2019 Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks) (G1) in a stakes-record 2:22.8 at Tokyo, but an inflamed tendon kept her out of action until that fall, when third in Kyoto’s Queen Elizabeth 2 Cup (G1). Her 2020 campaign was compromised by a round-trip to Dubai for the World Cup card canceled by COVID, and she didn’t begin to regain her old form until placing third again in the QE2.

Loves Only You started 2021 by regaining the winning thread in the Feb. 14 Kyoto Kinen (G2) versus males, then went off on her travels. After a near-miss third to Mishriff and Chrono Genesis in the Mar. 27 Dubai Sheema Classic (G1), she beat males in Hong Kong’s Queen Elizabeth II Cup (G1) at Sha Tin. The Aug. 22 Sapporo Kinen (G2) was earmarked as her Breeders’ Cup prep, and she was a gaining second to the champion white filly, Sodashi.

Yahagi indicated that Loves Only You would return to Sha Tin for the Hong Kong Cup (G1) during the International Races program Dec. 12.