Asia Express, bred and sold by Ocala Stud, rose to the top of the Japanese 2-year-old division with a sensational victory in the Grade 1 Asahi Hai Futurity S. Dec. 15 at the famed Nakayama Racecourse.
Video, chart and race details of Asia Express' victory can be found here.
Ocala Stud bred Asia Express from the multiple stakes-winning mare Running Bobcats, who won black-type events in three consecutive years, earning $365,680. Asia Express comes from the family of millionaire and multiple stakes winner and millionaire Shawdowbdancing.
Ocala Stud sold the chestnut colt at the 2013 Ocala Breeders' Sales March 2-year-olds in training sale, where he was purchased by Narvick International for $230,000.
Sent to Japan, Asia Express has been brilliant since his racing debut just six weeks ago on Nov. 3, when he won a 1,400 meter dirt race at Tokyo racecourse. He followed that up three weeks later with a victory in the 1,600 meter (about 1 mile) Oxalis Sho S., also on the dirt, which qualified him for the championship-determining Futurity.
Trying the grass for the first time, the son of Henny Hughes was guided deftly by jockey Ryan Moore, settling in mid-pack along the inside before swinging out for clear running in the stretch. Showing a sudden burst of speed, Asia Express reeled in the leaders and was drawing away at the end for a length and a quarter margin on the wire.
“He surprised me—he quickened up so well,” said Moore afterward. “When I rode him before, he looked like he was a horse with lots of gears. He's a special horse, because not many do both dirt and grass. His future should be bright. He feels like he hasn't got to the bottom of it yet—like there's more to come—so it'll be interesting to see how much progress he makes.”
Asia Express was timed in 1:34.70 for the 1,600-meters on the firm turf. With three wins in as many starts for owner Yuki Baba and trainer Takahisa Tezuka, Asia Express has now earned 855,282.