Kurofune, impressed with this victory in the Japan Cup Dirt.

Kurofune, impressed with this victory in the Japan Cup Dirt.

Bill Selwyn

Japan Cup Dirt Winner Kurofune Retired With Tendon Injury

Kurofune, the Kentucky-bred son of French Deputy who captured the second running of the Japan Cup Dirt (Jpn-I) in spectacular fashion last month, has been retired to stud after suffering a tendon injury to his right foreleg. The gray 3-year-old colt will join his sire, who was purchased from Three Chimneys Farm one year ago, at the Yoshida family's Shadai Stallion Station on the Japanese island of Hokkaido.

The career-ending injury is a big blow to the hopes of Japanese racing fans and to the organizers of the Dubai World Cup (UAE-I), where Kurofune would have been among the favorites in the 1 1/4-mile dirt race. Kurofune set track records in his only two attempts on dirt, in the one-mile Masuchino Stakes (Jpn-III) and the JC Dirt, where he covered 2,100 meters (approximately 1 5/16 miles) in 2:05.90. He won the latter race by seven lengths, and among those he defeated was top American runner Lido Palace. The Kunihide Matsuda trainee won the JC Dirt as the odds-on favorite with a brilliant, field circling move down the backstretch that carried him from mid-pack to the front in a quarter-mile.

Kurofune is owned by Makoto Kaneko and Katsumi Yoshida. Bred in Kentucky by Nick Lotz, Kurofune was purchased by Yoshida for $430,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Calder 2-year-olds in training sale from Niall Brennan Stables after being bought for $70,000 from Eaton Sales, agent, at the Keeneland September yearling sale. Yoshida also purchased Kurofune's dam, Blue Avenue, by Classic Go Go, earlier this year. His full sister, Bella Bellucci, was a $925,000 Fasig-Tipton Calder 2-year-old purchase who finished third in the 2001 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) for Michael Tabor and trainer Neil Drysdale.

Kaneko also owns the Sunday Silence filly To the Victory, who finished second to Captain Steve in the 2001 Dubai World Cup. Kaneko reportedly plans to send the filly to Dubai again this year and retire her immediately afterwards, breeding her to Kurofune.

Kurofune is being shipped to Northern Farm on Hokkaido on Dec. 26 and then on to Shadai Stallion Station. His first-year fee is reported to be five million yen (approximately $38,500).