Dubai In Play For Godolphin’s Lemon Pop Following February S.

Stepping up to the top level for the first time in what has already been a productive career, Godolphin’s Lemon Pop (Lemon Drop Kid) ran a strong 1600 metres and comfortably held a final-furlong rally from the classy Red le Zele (Jpn) (Lord Kanaloa {Jpn}) to land Sunday’s February S. at Tokyo Racecourse. A fourth consecutive American-bred winner of the ‘Win and You’re In’ qualifier for the GI Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic, Lemon Pop will remain over shorter trips and holds an invitation to the G1 Dubai Golden Shaheen in five weeks’ time. Despite the obvious appeal of such a journey, connections were playing it close to the vest post-race.

“Lemon Pop has been invited to Dubai, but we won’t be making a decision on this for some time yet,” said Godolphin Japan President Harry Sweeney, who purchased the chestnut in the name of Paca Paca Farm for $70,000 as a weanling at the 2018 Keeneland November Sale. “Thrilled that Lemon Pop has won a Group 1 race at his first attempt and won in good style. We are relieved that he now has a JRA Group 1 on his curriculum vitae which will be very important for his next career whenever he finishes racing.”

Handed a good draw in gate seven, Lemon Pop was in the vanguard early, but was content to drift back a few spots as the mare Shonan Nadeshiko (Jpn) (Orfevre {Jpn}) took the 16-strong field through an opening half-mile in a solid :46.60. Tipped out into the four path with about 600 metres to travel, Lemon Pop traveled strongly into the race and was under a long hold–having yet to be asked for his best–as the field hit the quarter pole. Finally given a dig by Ryusei Sakai approaching the final furlong, Lemon Pop pinched a break as Red le Zele flashed and loomed a momentary danger, but the favourite had the race well and truly in safe keeping and proved a clear-cut winner. Meisho Hario (Jpn) (Pyro) nearly unseated jockey Suguru Hamanaka at the break and was a long last down the backstretch, but rallied strongly to finish third.

The other US-bred winners of the race include Mozu Ascot (Frankel {GB}) in 2020 and Cafe Pharoah (American Pharoah) the last two years.

The victory was the second at group level for Lemon Pop, who rebounded from a tough loss in the G3 Musashino S. over course and distance Nov. 12 to reverse form with Gilded Mirror (Jpn) (Orfevre {Jpn}) in the G3 Negishi S. over seven panels Jan. 29. Jockey Keita Tosaki had ridden Lemon Pop to each of his seven previous wins, but opted for fourth-placed Dry Stout (Jpn) (Sinister Minister) Sunday, much to Sweeney’s surprise.

“[We] were shocked to read in the sports papers just two weeks ago that Keita Tosaki had decided to get off Lemon Pop to ride another horse,” said Sweeney. “We then had to scramble to find a replacement and we are delighted with Sakai-san’s performance today. It was a pressure ride for him too as he was riding Lemon Pop, the favourite, for the first time and in a Group 1 race.”

Added the winning jockey: “I am grateful to be given the chance to ride such a strong and favored horse and am happy we won. He responded well and pulled away strongly all the way to the wire.”

TDN Rising Star Shirl’s Speight (Speightstown) sat an inside trip from a disadvantageous low draw and was beaten about 10 lengths into ninth.

“From what the jockey was telling me, he wasn’t enjoying the kickback that much, but I think he ran an OK race,” said trainer Roger Attfield. “I just think he’s a superiour turf horse, but we gave it a try.”

Pedigree Notes:

On behalf of former Darley executive Olly Tait and his wife, Blandford Bloodstock went to 165,000gns for Unreachable from the Juddmonte draft at the 2012 Tattersalls December Mares Sale. Unreachable is a daughter of Harpia, a full-sister to the highly influential Danehill as well as Eagle Eyed and Shibboleth, etc., and is a half-sister to the stakes-placed First Word (Chester House) and the young American regional stallion Redesdale (Speightstown). This is also the family of Dundonnell (First Defence), a Group 3 winner in England, a listed winner in Hong Kong and Group 3-placed in Dubai.

The Taits offered Unreachable in foal to Good Magic at the 2020 Keeneland January but elected to retain her when bidding stalled out at $55,000. The colt she was carrying at the time–now named Equivoque–would go on to fetch $325,000 from China Horse Club/Gandharvi at the 2021 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Sale. Unreachable is also the dam of a 2-year-old colt by Good Magic and a yearling colt by Maclean’s Music. A Maximum Security colt out of Lemon Pop’s half-sister Regal Rags (Union Rags) was sold for $110,000 at Keeneland November last fall. Unreachable, now 14 years of age, was entered for, but was unsurprisingly withdrawn from this year’s Keeneland January Sale when again in foal to Maclean’s Music.

Lemon Pop is the 10th worldwide Grade I/Group 1 winner for his sire, who was pensioned from stud duties at Lane’s End in 2021 and is his second top-level winner out of a Giant’s Causeway dam. The late ‘Iron Horse’ is now the broodmare sire of 32 G1SW/GISW.

Sunday, Tokyo, Japan
FEBRUARY S.-G1, ¥232,860,000, Tokyo, 2-19, 4yo/up, 1600m, 1:35.60, gd.
1–LEMON POP, 128, h, 5, by Lemon Drop Kid
1st Dam: Unreachable, by Giant’s Causeway
2nd Dam: Harpia, by Danzig
3rd Dam: Razyana, by His Majesty
1ST GROUP 1 WIN. ($70,000 Wlg ’18 KEENOV). O-Godolphin; B-Mr & Mrs Oliver S Tait (KY); T-Hiroyasu Tanaka; J-Ryusei Sakai; ¥123,403,000. Lifetime Record: 11-8-3-0, ¥288,439,000. Werk Nick Rating: A. Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree. Click for the free catalogue-style pedigree.
2–Red le Zele (Jpn), 128, h, 7, Lord Kanaloa (Jpn)–French Noir (Jpn), by French Deputy. O-Tokyo Horse Racing; B-Shadai Farm; ¥48,972,000.
3–Meisho Hario (Jpn), 128, h, 6, Pyro–Meisho Ohi (Jpn), by Manhattan Cafe (Jpn). O-Yoshio Matsumoto; B-Mishima Bokujo; ¥30,486,000.
Margins: 1HF, 2HF, 1. Odds: 1.20, 8.00, 9.70.
Also Ran: Dry Stout (Jpn), Admire Lupus (Jpn), Speedy Kick (Jpn), Helios (Jpn), Soliste Thunder (Jpn), Shirl’s Speight, Kenshinko (Jpn), Sekifu (Jpn), Auvergne (Jpn), Keiai Turquoise (Jpn), T M South Dan (Jpn), Shonan Nadeshiko (Jpn), Jasper Prince.
Click for the JRA chart.


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