Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf winner Loves Only You ended her eclectic, globetrotting career by winning the biggest race on Saturday’s Hong Kong International Races card: the HK$30 million Hong Kong Cup at Sha Tin Racecourse.

Loves Only You-HK Cup
Japanese standout Loves Only You followed up this April victory at Sha Tin with a farewell conquering of the richest race on the Sha Tin slate, the Hong Kong Cup. The Deep Impact mare retires to become a broodmare. (Image: Kenneth Chan)

Loves Only You is the daughter of standout sire Deep Impact and the granddaughter of 1989 Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Breeders’ Cup Classic champion Sunday Silence. She followed up her trailblazing Breeders’ Cup triumph with a career-ending victory in Hong Kong’s richest race.

That head victory over Japanese rival Hishi Iguazu closed the door on an 8-2-3 record in 16 races. Loves Only You rides into retirement with nearly $6.5 million in earnings and victories in Japan, Hong Kong, and the US. Along with that, trainer Yoshito Yahagi took the 5-year-old mare to Dubai in March. There, she finished third in the Group 1 Dubai Sheema Classic on the Dubai World Cup undercard.

Yahagi was back in Japan for Saturday’s race, and assistant Yusaku Oka to Hong Kong to handle Loves Only You. “She won the Breeders’ Cup very well, and in the spring, she came over here and had a good result, so we were always confident she would run well,” Oka told the Hong Kong Jockey Club.

Loves Only You knows Sha Tin

That spring win came in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup at Sha Tin, starting a three-win-in-four stretch. None more prominent than that Breeders’ Cup shocker at Del Mar, when Loves Only You beat an all-star field that included Love, Audarya, My Sister Nat, and War Like Goddess. She prevailed over My Sister Nat by a half-length at 4.30/1. That made Loves Only You the first Japanese Breeders’ Cup champion in event history.

Winning the Hong Kong Cup provided another big payday for rider Yuga Kawada, who piloted Loves Only You in that Breeders’ Cup. This was Kawada’s first Hong Kong International victory.

“She’s given me two big presents and is the best female horse I’ve ever ridden,” Kawada said. “I hope she will be a good mother.”

Hong Kong’s biggest race day marred by fatal spill

Kawada and Danon Smash avoided becoming tangled in a horrendous spill in the Group 1 Hong Kong Sprint. That spill sent three of his fellow jockeys to the hospital and caused two horses to be euthanized. According to HK Racing, Zac Purton, Lyle Hewitson, and Yuichi Fukunaga were all in stable condition at a Hong Kong hospital.

The accident happened when Amazing Star buckled and fell under Hewitson at the top of the stretch. The ensuing chain reaction took out Fukunaga on Pixie Knight, Purton on race favorite Lucky Patch, and Karis Teetan aboard Naboo Attack. Lucky Patch and Pixie Knight were not seriously injured and Teetan was uninjured. Both Amazing Star and Naboo Attack were euthanized.