Roman Legend delivered on his promise as a blossoming star on dirt when scoring his first win at the highest level in the Tokyo Daishoten (Jpn-I) Dec. 29 at National Association of Racing’s Ohi Racecourse.
Yosimi Ota’s 4-year-old Special Week colt charged past fading pacesetter Furioso at the top of the stretch and repelled strong rallies from runner-up Hatano Vainqueur and Wonder Acute to win by half a length.
The second wagering choice under Yasunari Iwata, Roman Legend covered 2,000 meters (1 1/4 miles) in 2:05.90 on heavy turf to post his sixth victory from seven starts this season.
Iwata, who has enjoyed a memorable year in 2012, has gained a reputation as a big-race rider since making an extremely successful switch from the regional NAR circuit, where he developed his distinctive up-and-down riding style, to the major league of the Japan Racing Association. The Tokyo Daishoten marks his eighth win in a group I race this season and seventh in Japan that includes the Tokyo Yushun (Jpn-I, Japanese Derby) aboard Deep Brillante as well as the Oka Sho (Jpn-I, Japanese Thousand Guineas), Shuka Sho (Jpn-I) and Japan Cup (Jpn-I) with Gentildonna.
Trained by Hideaki Fujiwara, Roman Legend was undefeated in five starts this season with Iwata at the reins—including back-to-back group III victories--but suffered a loss in his debut at the top level in the Japan Cup Dirt (Jpn-I) on Dec. 2 when guided by Mirco Demuro as Iwata served a two-day suspension for careless riding aboard Gentildonna in the Japan Cup.
Reunited for the Tokyo Daishoten, Iwata had Roman Legend perfectly positioned just off the pace of four-time NAR Horse of the Year Furioso. He was ready to roll when asked by Iwata and quickly dispatched the frontrunner soon after entering the lane to secure the victory, his ninth in 13 career starts.
Hatano Vainqueur, winner the Japan Dirt Derby in July, charged along the rail to take second, a head in front of multiple group winner Wonder Acute, who entered off a runner-up finish in the Japan Cup Dirt.
Bred by Shadai Farm, Roman Legend is out of Awesome Again mare Personal Legend, a grade III winner at Aqueduct Racetrack in 2004 and runner-up in the Personal Ensign Stakes (gr.-I) the following year. He is a half brother to eight-time Japanese stakes winner Miracle Legend.
Special Week stands at Lex Stud in Hokkaido. He is the sire of five stakes winners this season and 21 overall from ten crops of racing age. The 17-year-old son of Sunday Silence, sire of 2010 Japanese Horse of the Year and classic winner Buena Vista and Japanese champion, classic winner, and U.S. grade I winner Cesario, is also the sire of Japanese multiple stakes winner Gold Blitz, another accomplished performer on dirt this season in addition to Roman Legend.