The creation of the Turf Trinity and Turf Tiara as part of the 2019 Turf Triple Series, offering $5.25 million in purse money for sophomores over three legs at Belmont Park and Saratoga Race Course has captured international attention with a pair of Japanese-breds – U.S. Triple Crown competitor Master Fencer and Group 2-placed filly Jodie – expected for the inaugural series.
The Turf Triple will showcase 3-year-old turf runners with the first legs, both Grade 1 events contested at 10 furlongs [2,000 meters], slated for Saturday, July 6 as part of the Stars & Stripes Festival to be broadcast live nationwide on NBC.
The Turf Trinity kicks off with the Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Derby Invitational on July 6. The first leg of the Turf Tiara will be the Grade 1, $750,000 Belmont Oaks Invitational, also on Stars & Stripes Day.
Katsumi Yoshizawa's homebred Master Fencer, trained by Koichi Tsunoda and piloted by Julien Leparoux, impressed with a rallying sixth in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby and went one better in Saturday's Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets, with a late-closing effort to fall a head shy of Tax for fourth.
The Japanese-bred son of Just a Way was slated to leave New York on Thursday and return to his native Japan to prepare for a fall campaign, until Yoshizawa called an audible, deciding instead to meet the challenge of the Turf Trinity.
“We're excited for the challenge of the Belmont Derby,” said Yoshizawa via translator Mitsuoki Numamoto. “Master Fencer has come out of the Belmont Stakes with good energy. He has raced twice on the turf in Japan and run well even though he did not win. I'm confident he will give a positive showing in the Belmont Derby on grass.”
Tadakazu Obama's Jodie, a daughter of Daiwa Major bred by the famous Northern Farm, has contested all nine career starts on turf in her native Japan.
She graduated on debut last June in Tokyo and followed up with a good fourth in the Group 3 Niigata Nisai at Niigata at one mile [1,600 meters] on the turf. In November, Jodie captured the Akamatsu Sho over one mile of firm turf at Tokyo in November, but failed to menace when off-the-board in the Group 1 Hanshin Juvenile Fillies to close out her juvenile campaign.
Trained by Hirofumi Toda, Jodie returned with a flourish in February, finishing third in the Group 3 Daily Hai Queen Cup at Tokyo when racing at one-mile for the sixth time. She stretched out to 1 1/4 miles (2,000 meters) in April finishing third in the Group 2 Sankei Sports Sho Flora Stakes at Tokyo. Last out, in the 1 1/2-miles (2,400 meters) Group 1 Japanese Oaks, Jodie set the early pace before fading to finish 14th.
The Turf Tiara continues Friday, August 2 at Saratoga Race Course with the inaugural $750,000 Saratoga Oaks, held at 1 3/16-miles (1,900 meters) on the Saratoga lawn and broadcast live nationally on FS2, kicking off Whitney weekend festivities.
The second jewel of the Turf Trinity, the inaugural $1 million Saratoga Derby, will be contested at 1 3/16-miles (1,900 meters) on the Saratoga green on Sunday, August 4 and featured live on FS1.
The Turf Triple Series reaches its conclusion on Saturday, September 7 at beautiful Belmont Park with the inaugural edition of the $1 million Jockey Club Derby, third leg of the Turf Trinity, to be aired live across the country on NBC.
The final jewel of the Turf Tiara, the first-ever $750,000 Jockey Club Oaks slated for September 7 at Belmont Park, will be contested at 1 3/8-miles (2,200 meters) on the turf, and aired live on NBC, as part of an action-packed weekend of racing to raise the curtain on the Belmont fall meet.
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