02/18/2015 1:01PM

Hot prospect Japan makes debut Saturday


Look for first-time starter Japan to take a significant amount of action in Saturday’s third race at Gulfstream Park, a 6 1/2-furlong maiden race for 3-year-olds that has lured a number of well-bred newcomers from top barns. Japan, a colt by Medaglia d’Oro, has trained strongly at Palm Meadows for trainer Mike Hushion and owner Barry Schwartz.

:: GULFSTREAM PARK: Get PPs, watch Saturday’s card live

“Oh, you mean the secret weapon?” Hushion said when asked about Japan on Wednesday at Palm Meadows. “He trains like a serious horse. If he runs like he’s training, it’ll be fun.”

Japan was purchased as a yearling for $300,000. He was in training last summer at Saratoga, “but we pulled the plug,” Hushion said.

“It was clear he wasn’t going to be an early 2-year-old,” Hushion said.

Japan drew post 12 in a field of 14. Of the 14 runners, 11 are making their first starts, including two trained by Todd Pletcher and one each from Chad Brown, Kiaran McLaughlin, and George Weaver, trainers whose debut runners often attract serious attention.

McLaughlin sends out Rediscover, a Bernardini colt who, he said, is “going to need one.”

“It looks like a tough race,” McLaughlin said.