The Japanese owner-trainer team that attempted to win the 1999 Arc de Triomphe (Fr-I) with El Condor Pasa announced their intention to target the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) with Sushi Train, a Deputy Minister colt who has won his only two starts in Japan by a combined 19 lengths.
Owner Takashi Watanabe, who bred Sushi Train in Kentucky, reportedly will turn down an invitation to send his colt to Dubai for the UAE Derby (UAE-I) and instead plans to ship him to the U.S. this winter with an eye on the Triple Crown's final leg. According to a published report in Japan, Watanabe and trainer Yoshitaka Ninomiya have both the Belmont and Saratoga's Travers Stakes (gr. I) in mind for Sushi Train. The colt was produced from Preparation, an unraced daughter of 1989 Belmont Stakes winner Easy Goer.
Sushi Train broke his maiden by nine lengths going nine furlongs last Nov. 30, then won a minor stakes by 10 lengths going the same distance. Both races were run on Nakayama race course's clockwise dirt course.
El Condor Pasa, also bred in Kentucky by Watanabe, won the Japan Cup (Jpn-I) as a 3-year-old, then raced in France the following year, winning the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud (Fr-I) and Prix Foy (Fr-II) before finishing second to Montjeu in the Arc. The campaign earned him 1999 Horse of the Year honors in Japan despite not racing there all year. The son of Kingmambo was retired to Shadai Stallion Station but died following colic surgery last July.