Derrick Smith, Susan Magnier, and Michael Tabor's grade 1 winner Hootenanny looms the one to beat in the 65th running of the $100,000 Hanshin Cup Stakes (G3) May 13 at Arlington International Racecourse.
At one mile on the main track, the Hanshin will be run for the 23rd time as an exchange race between Arlington and the Japan Racing Association.
Trained by Wesley Ward, Hootenanny will make his first start of 2017 in the Hanshin Cup after most recently finishing fifth in the City of Hope Mile (G2T) at Santa Anita Park in October.
The 5-year-old son of Quality Road has been a classy traveler from the start. He's raced in four countries and posted a win in the Windsor Castle Stakes at Royal Ascot prior to taking the 2014 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (G1T).
Shortleaf Stable's Trace Creek will seek a repeat score in the Hanshin after posting a 44-1 upset in last year's renewal, his Polytrack debut. Trained by William Van Meter, the 7-year-old son of Harperstown finished sixth in his two subsequent efforts and will return Saturday off a nine-month layoff.
Courtney Barousse's Wyeth, a son of Candy Ride , will make his stakes debut in the Hanshin. The Tom Amoss-trained 4-year-old gelding has been patiently managed through his allowance conditions and is in search of his third consecutive victory after tallies at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots and Keeneland.
Triple K Stables' Ghost Hunter began his 7-year-old season with a third in the Henry S. Clark Stakes at Laurel Park, his most recent start. The Ghostzapper gelding trained by Cory Jensen had a six-race win streak in 2016 which ended with a fourth-place finish in Woodbine's Autumn Stakes (G2) in his last race of the year.