Japan's high-class sophomore colt Epicharis, a very good second to Thunder Snow in yesterday's UAE Derby in Dubai, is unlikely to race in this year's Kentucky Derby, according to several Japanese media outlets.
The Kiyoshi Hagiwara-trained son of Gold Allure had earned a spot in the starting gate by virtue of his win in the inaugural Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby's top points race, the Hyacinth Stakes. His second-place effort at Meydan also earned him 40 traditional points toward the Kentucky Derby, which currently place the colt seventh on the leaderboard.
One position in the Kentucky Derby starting gate is awarded to the horse that accrues the most points in the “Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby” and accepts an invitation to compete. That invitation will go to Epicharis. Should the connections of Epicharis decline, the horse with the second-most points, Cattleya Sho winner Mont Saint Legame (Jpn) may accept. If Mont Saint Legame declines, the horse with the third-most points, Hyacinth runner-up Adirato (Jpn) may accept. No other invitation will be extended beyond the top three point earners.
Epicharis' connections appear to be targeting the Preakness and/or the Belmont Stakes instead of the Kentucky Derby, which may open up the invitation to Mont Saint Legame or even Adirato. Sports Hochi, a Japanese sports newspaper, reported that Epicharis will not contest the Kentucky Derby “by reason of quarantine.” Naoya Yoshida also announced on Twitter that Epicharis would skip the Kentucky Derby.
In addition, kentuckyderby.com reported that Epicharis' “connections had initially sounded more inclined to pursue the Belmont.”
Epicharis won his three juvenile starts in Japan by a combined 25 lengths, and the Hyacinth at the start of his 2017 campaign by a half-length over fellow UAE Derby contender Adirato (12th). The UAE Derby was the first defeat of his career, and the locally-based Thunder Snow was only just able to get his head in front of the game Japanese colt at the wire.
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