Breeders’ Cup Option For Lemon Pop Following Comeback Win
The GI Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile is one of three options for Godolphin’s Lemon Pop (Lemon Drop Kid) following a barnstorming gate-to-wire victory in Monday’s $823,000 Listed Mile Championship Nambu Hai at Morioka Racecourse on the National Association of Racing circuit in Japan.
Having already secured a Breeders’ Cup berth courtesy of his biggest win to date in the G1 February S. at Tokyo this past February, the 5-year-old was having his first run since finishing an outpaced 10th, beaten six lengths, in the G1 Dubai Golden Shaheen over six furlongs in late March.
Favored at 1-2, the $70,000 Keeneland November weanling purchase hit the ground running from gate three and was soon at the head of affairs for jockey Ryusei Sakai. Always traveling strongly on the front end, Lemon Pop began to get away from his rivals approaching the 400-meter marker and turned it into a one-horse show in the final stages. He had a margin of two full seconds, or approximately a dozen lengths, on Igniter (Jpn) (Espoir City Jpn) at the wire, with the mare Ladybug (Jpn) (Hokko Tarumae Jpn) third. Two-time February S. hero Cafe Pharoah (American Pharoah) was fifth, while 2022 G1 Satsuki Sho winner Geoglyph (Jpn) (Drefong) finished ninth.
“It’s impossible to be anything other than thrilled with a performance like that,” said Godolphin Japan President Harry Sweeney. “Lemon Pop was outstanding today. We hadn’t really expected him to make the running and there was a very audible murmur from the crowd as he took the lead, somewhat in disbelief. The jockey rode a brilliant race and pulled away easily to win very, very comfortably at the finish.
“It’s not easy to win a Jpn G1 race by a distance, so credit to the horse and the trainer. A special thanks must go to our own team in Castle Park, where Lemon Pop has been for about five months since he came back from Dubai.”
Sweeney said that instead of the Dirt Mile, Lemon Pop could remain at home for the valuable Listed JBC Sprint (1200m) Nov. 3 and/or the G1 Champions Cup in December, which would mark his first start past a mile.
“Lemon Pop’s trainer was never really in favour of running him over a mile, even though he has now won two top competitions over the distance, and he certainly showed today that he has no problem with the trip,” said Sweeney. “Certainly, we will be looking at the Champions Cup, with one run beforehand. We will be discussing it intently over the next few days.”
MILE CHAMPIONSHIP NAMBU HAI-Listed, ¥122,500,000, Morioka, 10-9, 3yo/up, 1600m, 1:33.80, yl.
1–LEMON POP, 128, h, 5, Lemon Drop Kid–Unreachable, by Giant’s Causeway. ($70,000 Wlg ’18 KEENOV). O-Godolphin; B-Mr & Mrs Oliver S Tait (KY); T-Hiroyasu Tanaka; J-Ryusei Sakai; ¥ 70,000,000. Lifetime Record: G1SW-Jpn, 13-9-3-0, $2,704,452.
2–Igniter (Jpn), 126, h, 5, Espoir City (Jpn)–Bianco (Jpn), by Warning (GB). (¥7,020,000 Ylg ’19 HOKSUM). O-Yoshiki Noda; B-Haruki Farm; ¥24,500,000.
3–Ladybug (Jpn), 121, m, 5, Hokko Tarumae (Jpn)–Favorite Girl (Jpn), by Dance in the Dark (Jpn). O/B-Gold Up Company; ¥14,000,000
Margins: 12, HF, 3/4. Odds : 0.50, 20.70, 82.40.
Click for the goracing.jp chart.