Loves Only You Breaks Through For Japan With Thrilling Filly & Mare Turf Triumph

It’s been 35 years since Japanese Triple Crown winner Symboli Rudolf came to the U.S. in search of a major stakes victory in California that never materialized. It’s been 26 years since Ski Captain traveled from Japan for an historic, but ultimately futile, attempt to win the Kentucky Derby. Sixteen years ago, Cesario scored a breakthrough Grade 1 victory for a Japanese-trained Thoroughbred in the  American Oaks at Hollywood Park and it’s been six years since French-trained Karakontie won the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Mile to become the first Japanese-bred winner of a Breeders’ Cup race.

But until Loves Only You and jockey Yuga Kawada burst through a narrow opening in midstretch to beat My Sister Nat to the wire in Saturday’s Grade 1, $2-million Filly & Mare Turf, no Japanese-bred and Japanese-trained horse had been successful on the world’s biggest stage for Thoroughbreds, the Breeders’ Cup World Championships.

The 5-year-old mare by Japanese Triple Crown winner Deep Impact, a son of 1989 U.S. Horse of the Year Sunday Silence, was considered the best runner ever sent by a Japanese horseman to the Breeders’ Cup, and the globe-trotting Loves Only You, trained by Yoshito Yahagi, did not disappoint. Sent off the 4-1 third betting choice, she secured a ground-saving spot just behind the early leaders in the 1 3/8-mile Filly & Mare Turf, awaited room at the top of the stretch and then demonstrated a quick turn of foot to overtake the front-runners and hold off a fast-finishing My Sister Nat by a head.

War Like Goddess, the 2-1 favorite, finished a head back in third after moving to the lead with an eye-catching, wide rally from the three-eighths pole to the wire. Love, the Aidan O’Brien-trained multiple Group 1 winner from Ireland, finished fourth as the 3-1 second betting choice, with defending Filly & Mare Turf winner Audarya fifth in the field of 12 fillies and mares. She was followed across the finish by Ocean Road, Rougir, Pocket Square, Acanella, Dogtag, Going to Vegas and Queen Supreme.

Loves Only You, owned by DMM Dream Club Co. and bred by Northern Farm, ran the 1 3/8 miles on firm turf in 2:13.87, about 2 4/5 seconds off the course record, and paid $10.60 on a $2 mutuel.

Going to Vegas went to the front, as expected, setting fractions of :24.10, :47.83, 1:13.06 and 1:38.20 while under pressure from Dogtag. War Like Goddess, last early, turned up the heat with her move entering the far turn and was in front with an eighth of a mile to run after a mile and a quarter was clocked in 2:02.46.

A classic winner of the G1 Japanese Oaks at 3, Loves Only You was winless in five starts as a 4-year-old in 2020, but rebounded this year to win the G1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup in Hong Kong in April after finishing a close third to Mishriff in the G2 Dubai Sheema Classic at Meydan in Dubai. After a summer freshening, Loves Only You returned with a second-place finish in the G2 Sapporo Kinen in Sapporo, Japan, her last start before the Breeders’ Cup.

“You know, when we finished second at Sapporo, I picked that race because the turf track is similar to Del Mar,” said trainer Yahagi.

The Filly & Mare Turf winner was produced by the U.S.-bred Loves Only Me, an unraced daughter of Storm Cat who was purchased by Japan’s leading breeder, Katsumi Yoshida, for $900,000 from the Lane’s End consignment at the 2009 Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale. Loves Only Me was bred by the Niarchos and is a granddaughter of two-time Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Miesque.

“I’d like to say thank you to my horse,” Yahagi said. “She did a great job. It’s a dream come true for Japanese horse racing history. I’d love to come back Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland next year and do the same thing, to win!”

Connections of Filly & Mare Turf victress show their love for her in the winner’s circle

Quotes from other connections:

Trainer Chad Brown (My Sister Nat (FR), second) – “My Sister Nat ran great. Pocket Square just couldn’t run that far. Jose (Ortiz) rode a great race. We had a plan to follow War Like Goddess, which he executed perfectly. I just said, ‘If you have any chance to win, just follow her and draw alongside of her in the stretch and if our horse is good enough battle it out.’ That’s what Jose did. I’m so proud of this mare. It’s bittersweet because she ran the race of her life, but it was her last race, and unfortunately, she never got that Grade 1 win that she deserves. She had a couple of tough beats. Nevertheless, she is off to the breeding shed and she has been a wonderful mare to train. I look forward to training her babies.”

Trainer Bill Mott (War Like Goddess, third as favorite) – “Being third’s not as good as first. She ran hard. She made the lead a little early, maybe, and was a little wide off the turn – didn’t have much choice about that.”

Jockey Julien Leparoux (War Like Goddess, third as favorite) – “We had a good trip.  She was nice and relaxed early.  Just before the three-eighths pole she took a hold of the bridle on her own and made that big move.  I had to go on with her then and we got carried wide.  It was sooner than I would have liked.  She ran a very good race.”

Jockey Ryan Moore (Love, fourth) – “She ran well just not good enough on the day.”

Jockey William Buick (defending winner Audarya, fifth) – “She ran a very big race considering the run we had. She got boxed in then denied a clear path but ran on strong to the line.”

Jockey Oisin Murphy (Ocean Road, sixth) – “Had a great run round and she put up a good performance.”

Trainer Hugo Palmer (Ocean Road, sixth) – “She ran very well and is going to be a lovely filly for next year. I expect her to keep improving.”

The post Loves Only You Breaks Through For Japan With Thrilling Filly & Mare Turf Triumph appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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