ELMONT, NY – Trainer Bill Mott’s Yoshida finally won his first graded stakes race after several close attempts, necking out a victory in Saturday’s Grade 3, $500,000 Hill Prince Stakes at Belmont Park.
Breaking well from post 2 under Manny Franco, Yoshida sat stalking the early pace set by Secretary At War through early splits of :24.21, :49.11, and 1:13.07. Off the far turn, Yoshida began to move towards the leader, with Frostmourne in front of him, Bricks and Mortar charging hard to his left, and Lucullan to his right. Both Yoshida and Bricks and Mortar decided to split the gap between Secretary At War and Frostmourne, while Lucullan went to the far outside. With the finish line closing in, Yoshida emerged first and hit the wire first by a neck over Lucullan in a final time of 1:47.07 for the 1 1/8-mile turf event.
“We got the benefit of saving the ground today and that didn’t hurt him,” Mott said. “The horse and rider both showed good courage. The rider showed good patience, and when he asked him, he had enough horse to get in there.”
A 1/2 length behind Lucullan, Bricks and Mortar crossed a head in front of Frostmourne. A steward’s inquiry into the stretch run between the top four finishers ultimately kept the results unchanged. Secretary At War faded to fifth in the stretch, with Rocketry, Small Bear, Ticonderoga, and Hieroglyphics completing the order of finish.
Owned by a parternship between WinStar Farm, China Horse Club, SF Racing Group, and Head of Plains Partners, Yoshida’s win improved his record to 7-3-3-0. The Japanese-bred son of Heart’s Cry increased his career earnings to $549,100.
“I rode with a lot of confidence, as Bill told me,” Franco said. “I expected to be third or fourth, saving ground, covering the horse up, like I did, and just waiting for the hole. By the 1/8 pole, I had a lot of horse, and my horse took off.”
Yoshida returned $10.40 to win, $5.30 to place, and $3.30 to show. Lucullan brought back $14.80 to place and $7.60 to show, while Bricks and Mortar paid $2.70 to show.