Moanin sets track record in February; Gold dents Lani’s Derby dream

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February 21st, 2016

File photo of Moanin copyright Japan Racing Association.

Tokyo staged two races with international implications Sunday. Moanin continued his ascent with a track-record victory in the February S. (G1), where Dubai World Cup (G1) nominee Nonkono Yume was a rallying second as the 7-5 favorite. In the Hyacinth S. for 3-year-olds, Kentucky Derby (G1) hopeful Lani didn’t advance his credentials when mustering only fifth behind the convincing winner Gold Dream. Neither winner holds an engagement on World Cup night yet, but that could change.

New York-bred Moanin, a son of Henny Hughes and the unraced Distorted Humor mare Giggly, was dispatched as the 4-1 second choice off his first stakes score in the January 31 Negishi (G3). He was previously third to Nonkono Yume in the November 14 Musashino (G3) over this track and trip, his only career loss.

Ridden for the first time by Mirco Demuro, the Sei Ishizaka pupil rated a few lengths off the contested pace, got the split in the stretch, and punched 1 1/4 lengths clear. His final time for the metric mile in the Tokyo mud was 1:34.0, a track record.

“I was aware of his strength and had every confidence in him, so I’m truly happy we were able to win,” Demuro said. “The trainer warned me of his bad breaks, but he actually made a good spurt and after we were positioned well, I knew the title was ours. I’m glad that he stretched well in spite of losing concentration a bit after taking the lead rather early in the straight.”

Nonkono Yume, near the rear early in keeping with his deep-closing style, swooped late on the far outside. With a field-best final 600 meters (about three furlongs) in :34.7, the favorite just snared second in a blanket finish from Asukano Roman, Best Warrior, and Roi Jardin. Two-time defending champion Copano Rickey was seventh, continuing his recent spate of lackluster form.

From Nonkono Yume’s perspective, this was a useful prep for the World Cup, where he would get the added ground he prefers. It remains to be seen whether his connections will take up his Dubai engagement or not. Considering that Prince Bishop came from last to surprise the 2015 World Cup, Nonkono Yume wouldn’t be a forlorn hope.

Now 6-for-7 lifetime, Moanin has become the first horse to claim a JRA dirt Grade 1 this early in his career, which just began last May. He’s only a 4-year-old, like Nonkono Yume. Both promise to be forces on the Japanese dirt scene for some time to come. This may be just the beginning of a rivalry, with the scoreboard even at 1-1 so far.

Bred by Empire Equines in the Empire State, Moanin was sold to Bradley Thoroughbreds for $90,000 at Fasig-Tipton Saratoga’s New York-bred yearling sale. The chestnut commanded $335,000 from Narvick International, agent, as an OBS March 2-year-old in training. If the name Moanin sounds familiar, you might be thinking of the French-bred filly who just faded to last in Saturday's Buena Vista (G2) at Santa Anita.


Two races prior, Lani was hoping to use the Hyacinth as a springboard to the March 26 UAE Derby (G2), and then on to Churchill Downs. The gray son of Tapit and Japanese star Heavenly Romance made an eye-catching move to circle rivals on the far turn, but clung to his left lead and hung down the stretch. Although Lani remains a talented prospect, you’ve got to wonder if he’s ready for international ventures at this point. His connections – owner Yoko Maeda and trainer Mikio Matsunaga – may have a rethink.

In contrast, Gold Dream boosted his stature with his two-length decision. The Katsumi Yoshida homebred was given a more patient ride by Hironobu Tanabe, who followed Lani into the stretch and angled around him. Picking up well, Gold Dream forged clear and completed the metric mile in 1:35.40.

Strong Barows (on the rail) salvaged second by a head from the fast-finishing Smart Charade, with the blaze-faced K T Brave tiring to fourth, a neck up on Lani.


Gold Dream is now perfect from three starts, all on dirt. The Osamu Hirata trainee won his first two at about nine furlongs – a Hanshin event for newcomers December 13 followed by a Kyoto score on January 5 – so it was most encouraging for him to capture the Hyacinth on a cutback in trip and a step up in class.

By Gold Allure, sire of such outstanding Japanese dirt performers as Espoir City and the aforementioned Copano Rickey, Gold Dream is out of the stakes-placed French Deputy mare Mon Vert. His third dam, Statistic, is a full sister to Jade Robbery and Numerous. Fourth dam Number is a three-quarter sister to Nureyev and also a close relative of Sadler’s Wells, among others in this fantastic family. Because sire Gold Allure is himself out of a Nureyev mare, Gold Dream’s pedigree sports the potent inbreeding to blue hen Special (an example of the Rasmussen Factor of inbreeding to superior females).

If Gold Dream does come into the UAE Derby picture after all, be aware that the similarly named Goldream (trained by Robert Cowell) is expected in the Al Quoz Sprint (G1) during the same World Cup extravaganza.