Gold Ship Wins Kikuka Sho for Classic Double

Gold Ship solidified his credentials as Japan's top 3-year-old Oct. 21 at Kyoto when he completed a last-to-first rally in the Kikuka Sho (Jpn-I), or Japanese St. Leger, the final jewel in Japan's Triple Crown.

Sweeping past his 17 rivals on the backstretch the second time around in the 1 7/8-mile (3,000-meter) race, Gold Ship seized command entering the straight and cruised to a 1 3/4-length victory over Sky Dignity. Gold Ship earned his second classic win of the season.

Ridden by Hiroyuki Uchida for trainer Naosuke Sugai and owner/breeder Eiichi Kobayashi, Gold Ship's winning time was 3:02.90.

Yuki Soldier finished third, two lengths behind Sky Dignity.

The come-from-behind style also took Gold Ship to a 2 1/2-victory in the in Satsuki Sho (Jpn-I), or Japanese Two Thousand Guineas, the first jewel in the classic series, on April 15 at Nakayama. In that race, he defeated subsequent Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby, Jpn-I) winner Deep Brillante, the third-place finisher.

Gold Ship finished a disappointing fifth in the Japanese Derby but rebounded for a clear win in the Kobe Shimbun Hai (Jpn-III) going the Derby distance of 1 1/2 miles (2,400 meters) Sept. 23 at Hanshin in his start prior to the Kikuka Sho. The Kikuka Sho was expected to be a showdown between Gold Ship and Deep Brillante, but the latter was withdrawn from the race with a tendon injury.

Triple Crown winners Orfevre (2011) and Deep Impact (2005) are the only horses in the last decade to have won the Satsuki Sho and the testing Kikuka Sho.

Before the Kikuka Sho, Uchida talked about Gold Ship's staying power and his confidence in the colt.

"I never have to worry about Gold Ship during the trip and because he's got the lungs that always allow him to finish strong, the longer the race, the better," Uchida said. "There's no point in plotting anything; I'll just ride him with the conviction that he will come through for us in the end."

Gold Ship is by Stay Gold out of stakes-placed Point Flag, by Mejiro Queen, thus bred on the same cross as Orfevre and his full brother Dream Journey. He improved his record to six wins and two seconds from nine career starts.

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