BALTIMORE, MD – WinStar Farm and China Horse Club International’s Japanese-bred Yoshida, making his stakes debut in his third career start, bulled through an opening in the stretch and drew off to win Saturday’s $100,000 James W. Murphy presented by Beyond the Wire for 3-year-olds at Pimlico Race Course.
Trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott and ridden by Joel Rosario, Yoshida completed the mile in 1:36.83 over a turf course rated good.
Rosario was able to save ground along the rail in the early going behind fractions of :22.97 and :46.91 set by the pace-setting Mo Maverick. Stuck in traffic as the field of 12 rounded the far turn, Yoshida barged his way between horses at the top of the stretch and cruised to the wire 4 lengths in front.
“I had a very good trip,” said Rosario. “I thought I was going to be closer. He definitely didn’t break very sharp, but it looked like they were going pretty fast up front. He was very happy where he was. I just let him do his thing, and then he put in a very nice run at the end. He’s a very nice horse.”
Sagamore Farm’s Chubby Star, the only filly in the group, came with a strong late rally from the far outside post to finish second, a head in front of Mo Maverick, with Caribou Club fourth by a nose. Cheyenne’s Colonel, Berks County, Bird’s Eye View, Total Tap, Dover Cliffs, Undulated, Adonis Creed, and Cool Arrow completed the order of finish.
It was the first James Murphy win for Mott and third for Rosario, who was also first aboard Skyring in 2012 and Redwood Kitchen in 2013.
Elliott Walden, president of co-owner WinStar Farm, said that he went to the Japanese sale where he bought Yoshida as a yearling for $765,160. He said that he named the horse as a tribute to Katsumi Yoshida, whose Northern Farm sold the colt, as well as his brother, Teruya Yoshida. Walden said that he was looking for “new blood,” and that Yoshida’s sire, Heart’s Cry, is a very good stallion and son of the 1989 Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Sunday Silence, who became a legendary stallion in Japan.
“He’s also out of a mare named Hilda’s Passion,” Walden said, referring to the Grade 1 winner trained by Todd Pletcher. “He had American blood. Just a really nice horse. He’s a serious horse — serious.”
Mott and Walden said that the Grade 1 Belmont Derby is a logical objective.
This year marked the eighth since the former Woodlawn Stakes, first run as the Woodlawn Handicap in 1966, was renamed for late trainer James Murphy a month prior to his death at age 82 in 2009. Murphy was based in Maryland for much of his career, winning nearly 1,400 races and more than 50 stakes winners.
Yoshida returned $7.60, $4.60, and $3.20. Chubby Star brought back $13.80 and $6.80, while Mo Maverick paid $4 to show.
Additional Race Quotes
Trainer Bill Mott, Yoshida: “We liked him early on, but you never know until you put them out here in a full field. I think you have to do it in the afternoons. There are a lot of horses we like who don’t live up to their billing. Right now, it looks like he’s doing that.
“That was very impressive. He broke but he was relaxed, and Joel said he was very responsive, whenever he needed him, he could put him wherever he wanted. I thought it was a very professional race. He won on the lead last time. I told him in the paddock, he doesn’t need to be on the lead, but he also doesn’t need to be last. I said, ‘Just get where you’re comfortable and go from there.’ Well, I guess he was comfortable trailing the field. The good thing about that is he relaxed early and finished with a big burst. He had plenty of courage. Any time you’ve got to go through the field, you have opportunities to back out of it, and he actually got checked a little bit around the second turn nearing the quarter pole. He had to take up a little bit and wait and finally got through and found his room. He rolled home an easy winner, it looks like. He had his ears pricked and doing it the right way. He was doing it the right way.”
Pimlico Race Course