Ruggero; winner of the Cattleya Sho

by Alastair Bull

The winner of the first race in Japan’s Road to the 2018 Kentucky Derby may find his way to Churchill Downs. If he does, his stamina as well as his class may be called into question.

Having his first start on dirt after three turf runs for one victory, Ruggero came out on top in an eventful edition of the one-mile Cattleya Sho on November 25. He kept his mind on the job after pacemaking Morito Yubu crashed into the rail and dislodged his rider with about a sixteenth of a mile to run, and prevailed by a half-length from Mic Ben Hur, with the fast-finishing Meiner Yukitsubaki third.

The Blood-Horse reported that trainer Yuichiro Shikato is considering the Kentucky Derby, though Ruggero – a 39 million yen weanling (about $315,000) – would have to win the final race in the Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby series, the Hyacinth Stakes in February.

A first look at the pedigree of Ruggero’s sire, Kinshasa no Kiseki, suggests there are Kentucky Derby credentials. Both of Kinshasa no Kiseki’s grandsires won the Run for the Roses: Sunday Silence, sire of Kinshasa no Kiseki’s sire Fuji Kiseki, and Pleasant Colony, sire of his dam Keltshaan.

However, Kinshasa no Kiseki as a racehorse did his best work up to seven furlongs. He twice won the six-furlong Takamatsunomiya Kinen (Jpn-G1), and was also a dual winner of the seven-furlong Hanshin Cup (Jpn-G2). He never raced farther than a mile, and won only won two of nine races at that distance.

Retired in 2011 as a seven-year-old, Kinshasa no Kiseki has to date sired four stakes winners, all in the six-furlong to one-mile range – not especially promising for a Kentucky Derby contender.

Ruggero’s dam is Silver Cup, who won the one-mile Italian One Thousand Guineas (Ity-G2) before heading to the United States. She won all three of her four-year-old starts, each a Grade 2 race on the Santa Anita turf between a mile and 1 1/8 miles: the San Gorgonio Handicap, Buena Vista Handicap and Santa Ana Handicap.

Silver Cup wasn’t tested on dirt, but it could have been interesting if she tried, as her sire was 1999 Dubai World Cup (UAE-G1) winner Almutawakel.

It’s a good pedigree, but not one full of stamina. The Hyacinth Stakes will provide more clues.

Additional Kentucky Derby Pedigree Profiles:

Bolt d'Oro
Enticed
Firenze Fire
Free Drop Billy
Good Magic
Happily
Roaring Lion
Saxon Warrior (JPN)
The Tabulator