Swords out for Fearless Samurai
FEARLESS SAMURAI faces an acid test in the 10-furlong Lotto Classic Governor's Cup, giving weight to 12 rivals, including MARKET FORCE, who he only beat by a half-length at a mile in April's 2000 Guineas.
Most Guineas winners, unless far better than the opposition, normally bypass the Governor's Cup, a race conceptualised with weight allotments intended to deter the top three-year-olds. The event is skewed in favour of providing second-tier horses the opportunity to win a major purse, which stands at $3m this year.
Trainers with horses such as FEARLESS SAMURAI often shun the event, opting instead for opportunities to race at a lighter weight in overnight or open allowance ahead of the Jamaica Derby in a month's time.
However, for Wayne DaCosta to have entered FEARLESS SAMURAI with the weight and, seemingly, distance, stacked against the gelding, the champion trainer could have a Derringer up his sleeve.
After clocking 1:40.2 and barely getting home from fast-finishing and purposeful-looking MARKET FORCE at level weight of 126lb in the Guineas on April 8, FEARLESS SAMURAI returned seven pounds lighter, three weeks later, in open allowance, taking on grade one stablemate PERFECT NEIGHBOUR and ANOTHER BULLET, who had won in 1:37.0 at a mile in March.
A sceptical betting public made FEARLESS SAMURAI third choice in the betting at 5-2, only to watch in awe as DaCosta's runner allowed ANOTHER BULLET nine pounds and gave him a length-and-a-half lesson in pace, stopping the clock in 1:37.4, an improvement of 2.3 seconds on his Guineas performance.
After the race, DaCosta explained that FEARLESS SAMURAI had been idling after going clear in previous races, a veiled reference to the Guineas in which he was three lengths in front a furlong out, though winning by only a half-length.
If there were any doubts about FEARLESS SAMURAI's victory, ANOTHER BULLET returned a week-and-a-half later to stun established sprinters CHACE THE GREAT, CRUCIAL APPEAL and POKER STAR, albeit his problems at the start, with a cracking 1:05.2 at five-and-a-half furlongs, winning by a length-and-three-quarter.
Were the Governor's Cup a mile, FEARLESS SAMURAI could possibly defy topweight 57.0 kilos. However, with the additional two furlongs thrown in, the likes of MARKET FORCE (53.5), SOTOMAYOR (55.0), HENRY THE SECOND (50.0) and another of DaCosta's three runners, RADICAL (50.0), are automatic dangers.
There is, however, a quiet air of confidence, especially from jockey Omar Walker, who has actually been torn between the flying 1000 Guineas winner, SHE'S A MANEATER, and FEARLRESS SAMURAI as his Derby ride.
Similar to DaCosta, Walker believes FEARLESS SAMURAI responds best with company to keep him honest throughout, as he did when quickening on ANOTHER BULLET in a six-furlong split of 1:10.3, and is confident the gelding will get the distance.
What is key to note in FEARLESS SAMURAI's preparations is that after blazing 1:12.3 for six furlongs last week Tuesday, DaCosta eased off the throttle on Monday, an easy 1:15.3, saving gas for the big day.