After suffering two narrow defeats in graded stakes company at Saratoga Race Course – first a three-quarter-length loss to Bricks And Mortar in the Grade 2 Hall of Fame and again by a neck to Voodoo Song in the Grade 3 Saranac – Yoshida earned a graded win of his own in Saturday’s Hill Prince at Belmont Park.
Yoshida won the Grade 3 turf stakes by a neck over Lucullan while rival Bricks And Mortar finished third.
“These horses try really hard for you and to not quite get there is a little frustrating, especially when you know the horse is trying so hard,” said Elliott Walden of WinStar Farm, which owns the colt in partnership with China Horse Club, SF Racing and Head of Plains. “It can be a little frustrating, but you have to just step back and be appreciative of being able to be in those kind of races.
“Right when they hit the wire, you’re like, ‘uhh, got beat a head,’ or ‘uhh, got beat half-a-length,’ it’s a little tough, but then you step back. We had this race penciled from the time he got across the wire last time and knew we’d face the same horses and felt like, hoped like, it would go our way for us.”
Yoshida raced along the hedge in third throughout the 9-furlong Hill Prince, tracking 3 lengths behind longshot leader Secretary At War. Jockey Manny Franco guided Yoshida off the rail turning for home and pointed his mount through an opening between Secretary At War and rival Forstmourne. Slipping through in the final sixteenth, Yoshida made the lead and held off Lucullan, who had clear running on the outside.
“We ran against Bricks And Mortar at Saratoga, I think this is a really good group of 3-year-olds on the grass,” Walden said. “They’re going to be a force to be reckoned with next year and he’s one of three or four who are really good.”
Walden purchased Yoshida as a yearling from the 2015 Japan Racing Association Sale for the equivalent of $765,160. Yoshida is a son of Heart’s Cry, who won the Grade 1 Arima Kinen Grand Prix at Nakayama in 2005 and the Grade 1 Dubai Sheema Classic at Nad Al Sheba in 2006. Yoshida is out of Hilda’s Passion, whose multiple graded stakes wins included her final race in the Grade 1 Ballerina Stakes in 2011. Walden is hopeful to bring Yoshida’s unique pedigree to the stallion market in the years to come.
“We went to Japan and we were over there just to kind of experience what Japan is all about,” Walden said. “First time I had ever been there and went to a horse sale and picked out three yearlings and two weanlings to buy and he was one of them.
“He’s a beautiful horse. We hope to make him a stallion one day. He’s got great breeding, will be new to America with his sire, so hopefully he can win a Grade 1 for us and get that done.”
Trained by Bill Mott, Yoshida improved to 3-for-7 with three seconds and improved his earnings to $549,100 with the win.