By Jon Lees
After two seconds and a third at past Breeders’ Cups, Roger Varian is hoping to finally make his breakthrough at the championships for one of his most important owners.
Nazuna will go to post for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf with what her trainer believes are solid credentials, and not just because she is owned by his wife Hanako.
Varian saddled Daahyeh to finish second in the race 12 months ago while another filly, Nahrain, took him close to Breeders’ Cup honours when runner-up in the 2011 Filly & Mare Turf.
Nazuna will be making her Grade One debut on Friday at Keeneland, but showed her potential when finishing second to Isabella Giles in the Group Two Rockfel Stakes in September.
“I think she is going to run very well,” said the Newmarket trainer.
“She is thriving out there. She is very progressive. The form of her Doncaster nursery second and the Rockfel second is strong form.
“She was a bit unlucky not to win the nursery and the third horse very nearly won the Listed race at the weekend, which gave the form a bit of substance. I know Clive Cox thinks the world of Isabella Giles who she chased home at Newmarket. That was a good run when they finished well strung out.
“Our filly wouldn’t be typical of Kodiacs. She is not an up-and-at-’em two-year-old, she has more scope than that and will train on to be a lovely three-year-old.
“We had her in the Oh So Sharp and the Radley Stakes, but the ground was bottomless at Newmarket and Newbury. We were always leaning towards going to America with her.
“I think she will stay a mile. She has to improve again but she has a nice draw. I’m not sure how the ground, which they are giving as firm, will suit her, but I think she will run very well.”
Nazuna was picked up for 60,000gns as a yearling and got off the mark for Mrs Varian in a Doncaster maiden. She will be ridden by top US jockey Luis Saez.
“She is donning the home colours and she has done us proud so far,” Varian said. “Hanako is in Keeneland overseeing things. It is exciting.
“We are not in the habit of owning horses, but this is a filly Hanako was keen on as a yearling. She is a keen follower of bloodstock. A Japanese friend and colleague recommended the pedigree and she liked her as a physical specimen.
“I did my best to stop the whole thing happening, unsuccessfully! As things have turned out Nazuna is probably worth more than we paid for her now and we are getting a great bit of enjoyment.”
Varian continued: “We have knocked on the Breeders’ Cup door a few times. We were second last year in the same race. We were second with Nahrain going back a few years and Farraaj was third in the Juvenile Turf. We will keep trying.”