By Chris Lomon / @ChrisLomon
May 13, 2021 – France Go de Ina is seeking another smooth trip, this time in Saturday’s Grade 1, $1 million Preakness Stakes, at Pimlico Race Course.
Owned by Yuji Inaida and trained by Hideyuki Mori, the 3-year-old son of Will Take Charge has been a globetrotter ahead of the second jewel in the U.S. Triple Crown.
The first leg of France Go de Ina’s journey was a flight from his home base in Japan to Los Angeles. He arrived in California on Wednesday, was in quarantine there until Saturday, and then boarded a plane for a flight to Newark, New Jersey. Following a four-hour van ride, the Kentucky-bred arrived at Pimlico on Saturday evening around 7: 45 p.m.
On Monday, he took to the track in preparation for the 146th edition of the Preakness.
France Go de Ina and exercise rider Masaki Takano came on the track after regular training hours in accordance with quarantine regulations. They walked a lap around the track the opposite way and then jogged around the right way another time.
“He just stretched his legs,” said Kate Hunter, the Preakness field representative for the Japan Racing Association. “It was pretty easy because there were no other horses around. He was able to relax, check everything out and see everything really well because it was nice and sunny. He seemed very relaxed.”
Although he’ll have a tough task ahead of him in a race that includes Kentucky Derby champ Medina Spirit, and runner-up Mandaloun, France Go de Ina does have a few things going for him, including a multiple graded stakes winning rider with nearly 3,100 career victories in search of his first Preakness win.
Joel Rosario, in the irons of France Go de Ina for a sixth-place finish in the UAE Derby on the March 27 Dubai World Cup undercard, is looking forward to Saturday’s big race.
“He acted like a very nice horse,” Rosario told Woodbine Entertainment. “He just didn’t get away from the gate very well. The kickback was not easy to run into that whole night.”
Rosario, who guided Orb to 2013 Kentucky Derby glory, took the 2014 edition of the Belmont with Tonalist and the 2019 running with Sir Winston. He’s been second in the Preakness on three occasions, including in 2019 aboard 29-1 Everfast.
A $100,000 Keeneland September yearling, France Go de Ina was fourth to Lemon Pop (Godolphin) in his six-furlong debut at Tokyo on November 7, but broke his maiden in style, winning by four lengths going a mile and an eighth at Hanshin three weeks later. He then notched an allowance score over the same course and distance on December 19.
France Go de Ina will be the second Japanese-based horse to go postward in the Preakness since 2016, when Lani was fifth behind winner Exaggerator.
The most recent Triple Crown participant from Japan was Master Fencer in 2019, who finished seventh, and was placed six in the Kentucky Derby after the disqualification of Maximum Security. He was then fifth in the Belmont.
If France Go de Ina contests the Belmont Stakes (on June 5) and is victorious in the 1 ½-mile race, his connections will receive a sizable payday above the $1.5 million winner’s share. NYRA offers a $1 million bonus for any Japanese-based sophomore who wins the Belmont.
Listed at 20-1 in the morning line, France Go de Ina will leave from gate seven in the field of 10 for the Preakness.
UPDATE: On Wednesday morning at Pimlico, France Go de Ina had just completed a four-furlong breeze when exercise rider Masaki Takano fell off. France Go De Ina continued on before being caught by an outrider. Both horse and rider were fine after the incident and Takano got back on board France Go De Ina before entering the Pimlico paddock for a schooling session. A full story on the incident is available below.
— Paulick Report (@paulickreport) May 12, 2021
Fans can watch and wager on the Preakness through HPIbet.com