Trainer Bill Mott had Yoshida (JPN) in perfect form for his 2018 debut in the $500,000 Turf Classic (G1) on Kentucky Derby day at Churchill Downs.
The 4-year-old colt turned in a career-best performance on a rainy Saturday, with a perfectly-timed ride by Jose Ortiz to capture the 1 1/8-mile event by three-quarters of a length over Beach Patrol.
The win kicked off an incredible daily double for WinStar Farm, China Horse Club International and Head of Plains Partners, who would win the Kentucky Derby (G1) some 90 minutes later with Justify (also owned by Starlight Racing).
Yoshida, who had taken the winter off after winning the Hill Prince S. (G3) last October, was perfectly placed in fourth in the early stages of the Turf Classic. Given his cue with less than a half-mile to run, he and Beach Patrol zoomed past pacesetter Shining Copper. In the stretch, Yoshida got the better of his foe, who never got within a half-length at any point [WATCH RACE
His Beyer Speed Figure of 106 was the best in his eight-race career.
“I thought he was ready,” said Mott of the return from the layoff. “You always wonder about the ground; he won on soft ground at Pimlico last year. Doesn't seem to be a problem for him.”
Yoshida won the J W Murphy S. at Pimlico on Preakness Day 2017 in his first stakes start. With his latest win, he is now 4-3-0 in eight starts and has earned $846,700.
Pedigree Notes from the TDN:
Yoshida, by Heart's Cry (JPN), is the second foal for Hilda's Passion, who won the 2011 Ballerina S. (G1) by over nine lengths for Starlight Racing and Todd Pletcher, then sold for $1.225 million at that year's Fasig-Tipton November sale. Yoshida was purchased for 94 million yen in Japan as a yearling by John McCormack on behalf of WinStar Farm.