News and STORIES

Met Mile Figures to be Tremendous

Author: Don Mckee
Published: Thursday May 23, 2019

Plenty of Sizzle
Whatever hype the Belmont Stakes is lacking will surely be made up by the Met Mile, to be held at Big Sandy on Belmont Stakes Day. The probable field is stacked and includes many of the world’s top horses. In addition to Bob Baffert’s McKinzie, Steve Asmussen’s Mitole and Jason Servis’ Firenze Fire, all considered to be amongst the top 10 older horses in training worldwide, Godolphin’s Thunder Snow, a two-time Dubai World Cup victor, and his connections threw their hat in the ring.

Last year Thunder Snow ran twice in America, finishing runner-up in the Jockey Club Gold Cup Stakes (G1) at Belmont before taking third in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) at Churchill Downs. He kicked off his 2019 season with a runner-up effort in the March 9 Al Maktoum Challenge Round 3 Sponsored By Emirates Airline (G1), then became the first horse to win two editions of the Dubai World Cup when he followed his 2018 victory—which he landed by 5 3/4 lengths in track record time—with a nose score over Gronkowski. Following his exploits at Meydan in March, the 5-year-old son of Helmet was given a break but is back working and will be aimed at the Met Mile with the Breeders’ Cup a long-term goal again.

“Thunder Snow worked nicely on Monday, and he’ll do another piece of work before I make my final decision,” Bin Suroor told “He’s in good form. The race is (going) a mile but I’ve spoken to Christophe Soumillon and Kieren Fallon, who rides him every day, and we’re happy to run him at the trip. He has shown speed in his races.”

The Japanese Way
Katsumi Yoshizawa’s homebred Master Fencer, who is scheduled to make his next start in the Belmont Stakes, worked a half-mile in 52 seconds over a fast track Wednesday at Keeneland, where he has resided since placing sixth in the Kentucky Derby. The colt is scheduled to fly to New York on Friday.

The first horse bred in Japan to run in the Derby, Master Fencer twice has spent time at Keeneland since coming to the U.S. He flew to Chicago, where he cleared quarantine at Arlington Park and was vanned to Keeneland on April 25 to give him a quieter atmosphere in the days following his first international trip. Four days later, Master Fencer moved to Churchill Downs for the Derby.

On the Thursday after the Derby, Master Fencer returned to Keeneland, where he has trained on the 5-furlong all-weather training track and on the 1 1/16-mile main dirt track. On May 15, he breezed 4 furlongs in 52.80 seconds.

With exercise rider Yosuke Kono aboard for trainer Koichi Tsunoda, the 3-year-old colt warmed up this morning by jogging about two laps on the training track before heading to the main track to breeze.

“(Kono) did a stop and go, so he can see how (Master Fencer would) respond for the (start of the race),” said representative Mitsuoki Numamoto, who translated for Kono for “He did that twice, and he responded well. “The breeze, he did the Japanese way. We start really slowly for maybe 2 furlongs but then have a strong finish.”

Master Fencer is a member of the first crop by Japanese champion Just a Way, a grandson of Racing Hall of Famer and leading Japanese sire Sunday Silence. Yoshizawa purchased the colt’s dam, Sexy Zamurai, by Deputy Minister, for $110,000 at Keeneland’s 2005 September Yearling Sale.