Sekiguchi Buys Interest in Sarafan; Eyes Japan Cup

Sekiguchi Buys Interest in Sarafan; Eyes Japan Cup
Photo: AP/Ed Reinke
Fusao Sekiguchi receives trophy after Fusaichi Pegasus' Kentucky Derby win.
Japanese owner and breeder Fusao Sekiguchi has bought an ownership interest from Gary Tanaka in Eddie Read Handicap (gr. IT) winner Sarafan, who trainer Neil Drysdale said was scheduled to depart for Tokyo on Tuesday night to contest the Nov. 24 Japan Cup (Jpn-I).

Joining Sarafan on the flight from Los Angeles will be Reba's Gold, winner of Monday's Steinlen Handicap at Hollywood Park for the Creston Farms of television game show host Alex Trebek. Reba's Gold, a son of Slew o' Gold trained by Dan Hendricks, is scheduled to contest the Japan Cup Dirt (Jpn-I) on Nov. 23.

The only other American-based runner expected to compete in either of the two international racers is Abreeze, the pacesetter in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I) who eventually wound up fifth behind Evening Attire. The Danzig gelding is trained by Kiaran McLaughlin and has been raced by the partnership of Letty and Neal McLaughlin and Alvin Haynes.

Drysdale said he began thinking of sending Sarafan to Japan following the Lear Fan gelding's strong finish in the United Nations Handicap (gr. IT) this summer at Monmouth Park, held at the same 1 3/8 miles as this year's Japan Cup. (The race is run at 1 1/2 miles at Tokyo race course.)

Sarafan then finished a close second to Beat Hollow in the Arlington Million (gr. IT) on ground the trainer said was softer than his horse would have liked. Fearing even deeper turf for the Breeders' Cup, the trainer opted for Japan, which typically has firm ground this time of year. Corey Nakatani will ride Sarafan in the Japan Cup.

Drysdale did not disclose the percentage of Sarafan's ownership purchased by Sekiguchi, who is best known as the owner of the Drysdale-trained Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Fusaichi Pegasus.

Regular rider David Flores will ride Reba's Gold in the Japan Cup Dirt, which has been shortened to nine furlongs from 9 1/2 furlongs because of the configuration of Nakayama. Richard Migliore will ride Abreeze, who arrived in Japan last Wednesday.

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