09/16/2010 10:40AM

Japanese star arrives for Flower Bowl

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Andrew Watkins
Red Desire, shown in Dubai this spring, has the BC Filly & Mare Turf as her goal.

The Japanese Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf hopeful Red Desire arrived at Aqueduct on Thursday to prepare for the Flower Bowl Invitational at Belmont Park on Oct. 2. Trained by Mikio Matsunaga, the 4-year-old daughter of the Sunday Silence stallion Manhattan Cafe will spend two days in quarantine at the Big A before transferring to Belmont on Saturday.

Red Desire has rated as one of Japan’s leading fillies for the past two years. Narrowly beaten into second by Buena Vista in both the Japanese 1000 Guineas and the Japanese Oaks last spring, she nosed that rival out in the 1 1/4-mile, Grade 1 Shuka Sho in October prior to finishing a strong third behind Vodka and Oken Bruce Lee in the 1 1/2-mile Japan Cup on Nov. 29.

Given the winter off, Red Desire made her next start on March 4 a winning one in the 1 1/4-mile, Round 3 of the Group 2 Maktoum Challenge on the Meydan Tapeta, beating subsequent Dubai World Cup winner Gloria de Campeao by a neck. She faltered in the World Cup itself, however, coming home 11th.

Back in Japan, she next finished a length fourth to Buena Vista in the Grade 1 Victoria Mile at a distance well short of her best. After her run in the Flower Bowl, she is scheduled to move to Churchill Downs on Nov. 1.

Red Desire isn’t the only Japanese-trained horse aiming for the Breeders’ Cup. Espoir City, the best dirt horse in the country, will prep for the Classic at Morioka in northern Japan in the Mile Championship Nambu Hai, an $850,000 race he won last year by four lengths.

Trained by Akio Adachi, Espoir City is a 5-year-old son of the Sunday Silence stallion Gold Allure who has done most of his running on the National Association of Racing circuit, where he has won three Japanese Grade 1 races. He is equally adept at Japan Racing Association tracks, however, having won the 1 1/8-mile Japan Cup at Hanshin in 2009 and the one-mile February Stakes at Tokyo this past winter.

After his Oct. 12 race at Morioka, Espoir City is scheduled to arrive at Churchill Downs on Oct. 19.

Red Desire has won 4 of 10 starts for earnings of $3,550,782. Espoir City has won 11 of 19 starts for earnings of $5,837,885.