02/19/2017 1:38PM

Epicharis, Gold Dream take steps toward Kentucky Derby, Breeders' Classic

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Epicharis and Gold Dream won stakes at Tokyo Racecourse on Sunday that could lead to starts in the two biggest races in the United States this year – the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 6 and the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Del Mar on Nov. 4.

Epicharis won the $307,487 Hyacinth Stakes for 3-year-olds at about a mile on dirt, earning 50 qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby. The Kentucky Derby qualifying system has reserved one berth in the field of 20 for the horse qualifying through a two-race series in Japan. The Hyacinth Stakes was the second race in that series.

Epicharis, by Gold Allure, won the Hyacinth Stakes by three-quarters of a length over Adirato in 1:37.80. Christophe Lemaire rode the winner.

Epicharis is unbeaten in four starts for U Carrot Farm and trainer Kiyoshi Hagiwara. The Hyacinth Stakes was the first start of 2016 for Epicharis, the winner of a Grade 3 stakes at 1 1/8 miles last November.

The Hyacinth Stakes had a field of 15. Mont Saint Legame, who finished 10th, won the Cattleya Sho for 2-year-olds at Tokyo last November, the other Japan race in the Kentucky Derby qualifying system. Mont Saint Legame has 40 qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby, and ranks second on the list.

Gold Dream earned an automatic berth for the BC Classic with a win in the Grade 1 February Stakes at about a mile. The $1.86 million February Stakes is the first race of the year to offer an automatic berth for the BC Classic.

Ridden by Mirco Demuro, Gold Dream (4-1) closed from the middle of a field of 16 to win by a neck over Best Warrior, a 7-year-old Kentucky-bred by Majestic Warrior. Kafuji Take, the 9-2 favorite, finished third, beaten a length.

Gold Dream is a 4-year-old colt by Gold Allure who has won 5 of 9 starts. The February Stakes was his second graded stakes, preceded by the Grade 3 Unicorn Stakes in 2016. By Gold Allure, Gold Dream races for Katsumi Yoshida and trainer Osamu Hirata.