Takaya Shimakawa bought Si Que Es Buena last year in Peru as a prospect to join his select broodmare band in Japan.
The Argentinian-bred daughter of the Candy Stripes stallion Equal Stripes then showed signs she might not be finished at the racetrack, prompting her owner to consider other options. He tasked Takashi Kodama, who works as his racing manager while training a small string of horses in Ireland, with finding a trainer for the mare in the U.S.
Enter Graham Motion, who has never met Si Que Es Buena’s owner but nonetheless celebrated with some of his team when the mare won last weekend’s Grade 3 La Prevoyante on yielding ground during the Pegasus World Cup undercard at Gulfstream Park.
“The owner likes to buy nice fillies for his breeding operation in Japan but he also loves racing,” Kodama said.
Shimakawa raced Tosen Dandy against the legendary Makybe Diva in the 2005 Cox Plate and in the 2004 Japan Cup won by Zenno Rob Roy. He also owned 2016 Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf sixth Ryans Charm.
“We were supposed to buy this filly for breeding, but her form was still good so I was looking for a good trainer in the U.S. I asked a few people, they mentioned Mr. Motion, we got in touch with him and he was good at communicating with us," Kodama said. “We know he trained Animal Kingdom, who isn’t South American but has some South American breeding (primarily through his sire Leroidesanimaux)… I just felt something and my decision was perfect.”
Si Que Es Buena – who’s name translates to Yes What Is Good – certainly looked good winning the $200,000 La Prevoyante. Ridden with patience by Chris Landeros, Si Que Es Buena made the last move after others moved first and tired in the boggy stretch of the 1 1/2-mile turf test. She won by 1 length from 2-1 favorite Santa Monica, one of those early movers, with Semper Sententiae and A. A. Azula’s Arch another 1 1/2 lengths back in third and fourth.
Si Que Es Buena added the La Prevoyante to her victory in the $75,000 Via Borghese Stakes Dec. 29 at Gulfstream under Landeros. She finished fourth, beaten only a length, in the Grade 3 Long Island in her American debut in late November at Aqueduct.
“No, I wasn’t that worried,” Motion said of the mare’s chances on the soft ground. “She handled soft-ish ground at Aqueduct. Chris rode such a patient race, that’s what won the race for us. I give him a lot of credit.
“She’s a very good filly. He said she’s a little better at this trip today. I’m probably not in a hurry to run her back; she’s had two tough races. I was a little worried about running her today (off a month’s rest), to be honest.”
Si Que Es Buena arrived at Motion’s main base at Fair Hill in Maryland last summer. She’d won five of 12 in Peru for trainer Armando Filipuzzi Espinoza, including the Group 3 Clasico Republica Argentina in late May at Hipodromo De Monterrico. Her final start in South America came in the Group 1 Classico Pamplona in late June.
Motion initially thought he’d allow the mare to adjust to her new surroundings, until being urged otherwise.
“Usually these South American fillies they want you to back off them,” he said. “But these guys were like, ‘we want to keep going. We’ve had luck (in the past), let’s keep going.’ ”