LOUISVILLE, KY – Trainer Bill Mott’s Yoshida struck gold with a huge stakes score over the 8-5 favorite Beach Patrol and seven others in Saturday’s Grade 1, $500,000 Old Forester Turf Classic Stakes at Churchill Downs.
Breaking well near the outside under Jose Ortiz, Yoshida sat off the pace in the clear while Shining Copper ran off by multiple lengths to lead through early splits of :24.86, :50.61, and 1:16.44. Given the green light off of the far turn, Yoshida responded with a strong turn of foot and soon wrestled command from Beach Patrol just after he himself had taken it. The pair dueled gamely, but Yoshida was able to slowly inch past in the final yards to take the 1 1/8-mile event in a final time of 1:54.64 over the yielding turf course.
“He won very impressively,” Ortiz said. “I knew he would handle the soft ground. In the first turn, he kind of lost his footing a couple steps, but then got back into the race very nicely. I was right where I wanted to be: right next to Joel (Rosario on Beach Patrol). I knew that I had a good horse under me, so at the 3/8 pole, I went after him and tried to make it a two-horse race, and that’s what it was.”
Synchrony, though no match for the top duo, closed well to take third, 3 lengths behind Beach Patrol. Arklow took fourth, with Channel Maker necking out fifth over Editore. Seventh went to Camelot Kitten, with Kurilov heading Shining Copper to complete the order of finish.
Yoshida’s victory was his second straight graded stakes score, following the Grade 3 Hill Prince Stakes last October. The Japanese-bred 4-year-old son of Heart’s Cry improved his record to 8-4-3-0 with career earnings of $846,700 for owners China Horse Club, WinStar Farm, and Head of Plains Partners.
“I thought he was ready,” Mott said. “You always wonder about the ground; he won on soft ground at Pimlico last year. Doesn’t seem to be a problem for him. He had a great trip. It was about what we thought it would be. We knew Shining Copper would be on the lead. We had a little idea that maybe they would send Beach Patrol after him, and that put us in the garden spot right behind them.”
Yoshida returned $21.80 to win, $8 to place, and $4.80 to show. Beach Patrol brought back $3.60 to place and $2.80 to show, while Synchrony paid $3.40 to show.