American horses could have a tough time in the Emirates Airlines Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. I). Not only is European invader Midday—the 2009 winner—back to defend her title, Japan has sent a formidable adversary in Red Desire.
A group I winner in her native Japan, 4-year-old Red Desire is the wealthiest entry in the Filly & Mare Turf, with earnings of $3,600,782. That surpasses Midday’s $2,313,511 as well as the bankroll of the 2008 winner, Forever Together, who has earned $2,957,639. Forever Together finished third in last year’s edition and is back for a third attempt.
Red Desire is also the most well-traveled of the 11-horse field. After seven starts in her native country, she won a group II race in Dubai prior to attempting this year’s Dubai World Cup (UAE-I), where she finished 11th.
Trainer Mikio Matsunaga returned Red Desire to Japan for one start before shipping her to Belmont Park for the Oct. 2 Flower Bowl Invitational Stakes (gr. IT). In her first race in five months and over a yielding course, Red Desire finished third, losing by only three-quarters of a length.
Nobutaka Tada, the racing manager for Yoko Yamamoto’s Tokyo Horse Racing, which owns Red Desire, praised the filly’s New York effort.
"We couldn’t train her because of the weather," Tada said. "It had been raining for a week. We had to jog her until Wednesday. She was mad. And it was a long trip. Considering those factors, she did great."
Tada and Matsunaga wanted Red Desire to race in the U.S. prior to the Breeders’ Cup. They decided upon New York because of the experience there with Casino Drive, owned by Yamamoto’s husband, Hidetoshi. Casino Drive won the 2008 Peter Pan Stakes (gr. II). Trainer Christophe Clement, trainer of Breeders’ Cup Mile (gr. IT) hopeful Gio Ponti, also helped them and stabled Red Desire in his barn.
"Without his help, we wouldn’t be here," said Tada.
Shadai Farm, Japan’s leading stallion facility, bred Red Desire, and her pedigree reflects as much international flair as her travel itinerary. She is by Japanese stallion Manhattan Cafe, a son of American-bred Sunday Silence, who won the 1989 Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I) and later stood at Shadai. Red Desire is out of the English-bred Caerleon mare Great Sunrise.
Tada said that Red Desire should be ready for a top effort in the Filly and Mare Turf.
"She improved since the Flower Bowl dramatically," he said. "She’s a different horse now. She’s gotten stronger and settled very well. She likes to run; she’s ready to run."