By Jon Lees
Japan: Japanese sprinter Matera Sky is set to head to Kentucky for a second tilt at the Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland on November 7.
The six-year-old dirt specialist will be aimed at the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, a race won by his sire Speightstown and in which he finished last of eight at Santa Anita last year, his trainer Hideyuki Mori has announced.
Matera Sky showed blistering speed in the Saudia Sprint in February, streaking into a six-length lead, only to tire in the closing stages and lose out by a head to local challenger New York Central.
He has since won a local G3 in Japan for pioneering trainer Mori, who favours another international trip with a horse who, on another overseas venture, finished second to XY Jet in the 2019 Golden Shaheen.
Mori, 61, saddled Agnes World to become the first Japanese-trained horse to win a G1 in Britain with victory in the 2000 July Cup. The sprinter had won the Prix de l’Abbaye in 1999 and finished eighth in the 2000 Breeders’ Cup Sprint.
Full Flat was Mori’s other previous Breeders’ Cup runner, finishing fifth in the Juvenile a year ago under Yutaka Take. He subsequently won on the same card in Riyadh where Matera Sky was second.
Take, who has won four times on Matera Sky, may not ride the horse at Keeneland, with Mori indicating there would be a change of jockey.
Take travelled to Paris to ride Japan in the Arc but it proved all in vain when the colt was withdrawn along with all the Aidan O’Brien runners over a feed contamination issue.
Japan, who could have his next start in the Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot on Saturday, is also to be nominated for the Japan Cup.