Master Fencer, the Japanese-bred who is based in his native country, opened many eyes with a sixth-place effort in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby. He’ll look to improve on that solid performance in the final leg of the Triple Crown.
Trained by Koichi Tsunoda, Master Fencer earned his way into the “Run for the Roses” on the Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby by finishing fourth in the Hyacinth in Tokyo and second in the Fukuryu at Nakayama, earning 19 points, good for fourth in the standings. When the top-three finishers on the Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby standings, who were not Triple Crown nominated, denied the invitation, it opened the door for Master Fencer to compete at Churchill Downs.
Master Fencer will look to become the first horse bred, based or owned by Japanese connections to win the final leg of the Triple Crown. Koji Maeda’s Sunday Break was the first horse owned by Japanese connections to compete in the Belmont, finishing third behind longshot Sarava in 2002. Yoko Maeda’s Japan-based Lani ran third in the 2016 edition of the “Test of the Champion,” which was won by Creator.