High-class Japanese racemare Nuovo Record has been among the leaders of her division for the past couple of years. A return to her top form would make her a win threat, but that’s the rub. Winless since March 2015, the five-year-old mare hasn’t had as productive a season so far, and hopes are that the fast pace on firm going at Santa Anita will spark a revival.
Nuovo Record’s pedigree features no fewer than three Breeders’ Cup winners. Her sire, Heart’s Cry (famous for handing Deep Impact his first defeat), is by 1989 Classic (G1) legend Sunday Silence. Her broodmare sire is Spinning World, the 1997 Mile (G1) hero. And her second dam is by inaugural BC winner Chief’s Crown, who opened the championships in the 1984 Juvenile (G1).
Mixing it up with Japanese champion Harp Star as a three-year-old in 2014, Nuovo Record was third in the Oka Sho (Japanese 1000 Guineas) (G1) before turning the tables with a well-timed move in the Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks) (G1):
With Harp Star away on her fruitless Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1) expedition, Nuovo Record captured the Sho Rose (G2), a prep for the final fillies’ classic. But in the Shuka Sho (G1) itself, she was just denied by rail-skimming Shonan Pandora – who would go on to win the following year’s Japan Cup (G1):
Nuovo Record suffered another heartbreaker in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup (G1) at Kyoto, where she appeared to have made the winning move, only to be nailed by the older Lachesis:
Kicking off 2015 versus males, Nuovo Record defeated such classy veterans as Logotype and Staphanos (as well as a declining Isla Bonita) in the about nine-furlong Nakayama Kinen (G2). She was unplaced in her next two Grade 1 appearances that spring, but returned last fall with a runner-up effort, again to Shonan Pandora, in the Sankei Sho All Comers (G2).
That set her up for another tilt at Kyoto’s Queen Elizabeth II Cup, and another gallant try in defeat. Parked on the outside in post 18, she was just edged by Marialite in a blanket finish:
Nuovo Record then cut back about a furlong for the Hong Kong Cup (G1). Although she couldn’t catch compatriot A Shin Hikari in his front-running tour de force, she turned in one of her best-ever performances in a hard-charging second. Finishing in her wake were such Hong Kong standouts as Blazing Speed, Designs on Rome, and Military Attack.
We haven’t seen that version of Nuovo Record so far in only three 2016 starts, all versus males, but there have been extenuating factors. Not fighting trim when a one-paced sixth in her Sankei Osaka Hai (G2) reappearance, she’s since caught rain-affected tracks. The ground was yielding when she returned to Hong Kong for Sha Tin’s QEII Cup, and she spun her wheels in sixth. As an indicator of how this is best ignored, the eighth-place finisher was Highland Reel!
Sent to the farm afterward, Nuovo Record swerved Japan’s early summer highlight, the Takarazuka Kinen (G1). Already in mid-May, trainer Makoto Saito was talking about the Breeders’ Cup.
According to plan, Nuovo Record resurfaced in the August 21 Sapporo Kinen (G2), and raced evenly in fourth. That was decent enough, in light of the ground, and the fact that reigning Japanese Horse of the Year Maurice was only a couple of lengths ahead of her in second.
Update: Maurice regained the winning thread in the October 30 Tenno Sho Autumn (G1), showing the usefulness of the Sapporo Kinen as a prep.
On paper, Nuovo Record checks all the boxes for the Filly & Mare Turf (G1): world-class formlines, a running style that benefits from a fast pace but is still tactical, a preference for firm turf, and arguably her ideal distance.
But it may be worth wondering why she’s not pursuing her usual fall program at home in Japan. Perhaps Nuovo Record’s connections just don’t see a compelling reason to try the Queen Elizabeth II Cup at Kyoto for the third straight year. The about 1 3/8 miles may stretch her at this point, so why not try for international glory in a Breeders’ Cup race that may suit her better?
Japan’s A-listers (on turf) typically haven’t pointed for the Breeders’ Cup, however. Two who have come in recent years, Red Desire (2010 Filly & Mare Turf) and Trailblazer (2012 Turf [G1]), both finished fourth despite prepping well.
If Nuovo Record still has it in her to deliver a peak performance, she’d break new ground for her homeland. This being a tough spot to halt a losing streak, she may have more compelling place claims.
Photo copyright Japan Racing Association