It was a busy morning for pride of the crown and exercise rider Masa Matsuda on April 22 at Churchill Falls.
The Japanese Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve (G1) competitor dropped Matsuda and took a left turn out of the starting gate as he trained there just after 8 a.m. ET.
Matsuda said he and Crown Pride both escaped the incident unscathed, particularly through the efforts of outrider Lee Lockwood, who quickly grabbed Crown Pride and carried him back to the gate to resume his lessons. Matsuda said the sound of the starting gate bell ringing before the gates opened surprised the colt, who is used to Japanese starting gates that don’t use a bell.
“In Japan, you just open the door and we can go, but in America, first the bell, then open,” Matsuda said. “So the horse was very (surprised)…I fell (off the horse) but just checked the ground at Churchill Downs.”
Teruya Yoshida’s Crown Pride escaped the gate without incident on his second try, with rider Greg Blasi keeping him company for a few strides.
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“The second time I just (lengthened) the irons and sat (deeper) in the saddle,” Matsuda said. “Then I went straight, which was easier.”
Winners of the UAE Derby sponsored by Mubadala (G2) at Meydan for the last time, the Crown Pride formed by Koichi Shintani will revisit the starting grid for further lessons leading up to the classic on May 7.