Le Vent Se Leve; winner of the Nippon Nisai Yushun S.
by Alastair Bull
It’s been 15 years since Symboli Kris S became the last United States-bred horse to win Japanese Horse of the Year. In 2018, one of his sons may get the chance to become the first Japanese-bred to win the Kentucky Derby.
Le Vent Se Leve joined Cattleya Sho winner Ruggero (Kinshasa No Kiseki) at the head of the Japanese Road to the 2018 Kentucky Derby table after winning Japan’s most prestigious dirt race for juveniles, the one-mile Zen-Nippon Nisai Yushun (Jpn-G1) at Kawasaki on December 13.
On their respective form to date, Le Vent Se Leve is the better Derby prospect. He’s unbeaten in three races, winning his debut over 1,800 meters (about 1 1/8 furlongs) before coming back to a mile to win the Platanus Sho prior to his comfortable one-length Kawasaki triumph.
As his name suggests, Symboli Kris S is by Kris S. (Roberto), who was restricted to five races as a racehorse (three of them wins) before being retired at a $3,500 stud fee to Meadowbook Farms in Florida. There he proved a great success, enough for him to be moved to Prestonwood Farm (now WinStar Farm) in Kentucky, where his fee reached $150,000.
Kris S. sired 85 stakeswinners, including four Breeders’ Cup winners: two on turf (Prized and Soaring Softly), and two on dirt (Hollywood Wildcat and Brocco). He could also get horses with stamina, including the 1 1/2-mile Epsom Derby (Eng-G1) winner Kris Kin in 2003.
Symboli Kris S. just missed out on his Derby, finishing second in the 2002 Tokyo Yushun, but he then made a habit of repeating himself. He won Horse of the Year in 2002 and 2003, and in each of those years he won both the 2,000-meter (about 1 1/4-mile) Tenno Sho (Autumn) and 2,500-meter (about 1 9/16-mile) Arima Kinen – both now international Grade 1s – and he also twice finished third in the Japan Cup (Jpn-G1).
At stud he’s been one of Kris S.’s most successful sons, siring more than 25 stakes winners, including 2014 Japan Cup winner Epiphaneia, and the Japanese dirt track specialist Success Brocken, winner of the 1,800-meter February Stakes (Jpn-G1).
Le Vent Se Leve’s dam Maestrale won four races on dirt in Japan, all at about 1 1/8 miles. She’s one of nine winners produced by Autumn Breeze, a mare by 1995 Preakness Stakes (G1) winner Timber Country. Maestrale’s sire is 2003 Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby) winner Neo Universe (Sunday Silence), whose progeny include 1 1/4-mile Dubai World Cup (UAE-G1) winner Victoire Pisa.
Le Vent Se Leve will most likely need to win the final leg of the Japanese Road to the Kentucky Derby, the Hyacinth Stakes on February 18, to earn a Derby start, but his pedigree and his racing style suggest he won’t have any trouble staying 1 1/4 miles at Churchill Downs. The question will be whether he has enough class and his ability to travel.
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