Joha winning the Dixiana Breeders Futurity (gr. I).
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Joha winning the Dixiana Breeders Futurity (gr. I).
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Mathea Kelley

Grade I Winner Joha to Return in Hill Prince

Wade Wacker's Johar colt won last year's Dixiana Breeders Futurity at Keeneland.

After a minor injury derailed sale plans, grade I winner Joha is scheduled to return to racing June 15 at Belmont Park in the $150,000 Hill Prince Stakes (gr. IIIT).

Wade Wacker's Joha scored a front-running victory in last year's Dixiana Breeders Futurity (gr. I) at Keeneland before closing out the season with off-the-board finishes in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (gr. I) at Santa Anita Park and the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (gr. II) on the main track at Churchill Downs.

A 3-year-old Johar colt, Joha was entered in this year's Keeneland January horses of all ages sale but he was pulled because of a minor injury. At that time, the plan was to return Joha for a summer campaign and he is on schedule for trainer Tom Albertrani. Besides his victory on the Keeneland Polytrack, Joha finished a close second in last year's With Anticipation Stakes (gr. II) on the turf at Saratoga Race Course.

"I couldn't be happier with him," Albertrani said. "He's been on all different surfaces. The Hill Prince is a good race to start him back in. Whether it comes up firm or soft, I think he's pretty versatile. We have a lot of options with him. By the way he has been training, he certainly seems fit enough. We thought another work or two probably wouldn't hurt us, but based off his last few works here, I feel he's ready for a race."

Eleven other 3-year-old opponents are entered, including Repole Stable's Notacatbutallama, who enters off a third-place finish in the James W. Murphy Stakes May 18 at Pimlico Race Course. The Harlan's Holiday colt boasts two stakes wins and three additional stakes placings, including a runner-up finish in last year's Pilgrim Stakes (gr. IIIT) on the Belmont turf.

"We thought he ran fairly well in the Murphy," said trainer Todd Pletcher. "It was sort of a tricky race with the horse losing his rider on the first turn and he got in a little bit of traffic there. I thought he ran well, but more importantly, I think he moved forward for having had the run. There wasn't much pace, and it seemed like the Pimlico turf course was friendly toward front runners Preakness weekend."

Other promising runners include Oussama Aboughazale's Shining Copper, an Aragorn gelding who finished second in the James W. Murphy; WinStar Farm and Twin Creeks Racing's Red Rifle, a Giant's Causeway  colt who has won his first two career starts for trainer Todd Pletcher; and Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners' Red Rocker, a Redback colt who makes his U.S. debut after finishing a close second in his career debut April 17 at Newmarket.

$150,000 Hill Prince Stakes (gr. IIIT, race 8, approximate post time 4:45 p.m.) 3YO, one mile, turf
PP, Horse, Jockey, Trainer
1. Sayaad (KY), J. Espinoza, 116, K. McLaughlin
2. Infinite Magic (KY), E. Prado, 116, R. Mettee
3. Play It Loud (KY), C. Velasquez, 116, M. Nihei
4. Special Skills (KY), R. Maragh, 116, A. Goldberg
5. Chamois (KY), J. Alvarado, 116, C. Clement
6. Joha (KY), L. Saez, 116, T. Albertrani
7. Michael With Us (KY), G. Saez, 116, S. DiMauro
8. Red Rocker (IRE), D. Cohen, 116, B. Meehan
9. Red Rifle (KY), J. Castellano, 116, T. Pletcher
10. Bernie the Jet (KY), J. Ortiz, 116, G. Contessa
11. Shining Copper (KY), A. Solis, 116, O. Aboughazale
12. Notacatbutallama (NY), J. Velazquez, 118, T. Pletcher