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February 6, 2020 (Thu)

January JRA Graded Stakes Review

A new year brings with it a renewal of the graded stakes calendar.

The 2000m G3 Nakayama Kimpai at Nakayama Racecourse on January 5th was the first graded stakes of the year, with a lot of older horses in the field, ranging from a few four-year-olds to 10-year-olds. It was multiple graded stakes winner Triomphe(JPN) by Turtle Bowl(IRE), who took home the country's first title of 2020. He stalked the pace in second position before hitting the lead at the top of the stretch. He gamely fought off two contenders on either side of him and was able to keep his head in front as they crossed the finish line. On the outside of Triomphe(JPN) was Win Exceed(JPN) by Manhattan Cafe(JPN), who finished second by a head. Territorial(JPN) by Teofilo(IRE) inched his way forward to claim third, by three-fourths of a length. Unfortunately, after the race, Triomphe(JPN) pulled up with a minor injury. The Six-year-old gelding will be retrained as a riding horse in Hokkaido.

Also, on January 5th, the 1600m G3 Kyoto Kimpai at Kyoto Racecourse went off as the JRA's second graded stakes of the year. Despite a slightly younger average, the race went to five-year-old Sound Chiara(JPN) by Deep Impact(JPN). This was the mare's first graded stakes win of her career, which had been remarkably consistent. She sat a few lengths off the pace in the early goings and got into high gear as they got into the stretch. She overtook the pacesetter at the 200m mark and confidently beat out those trying to challenge her in the final few meters to win by a length and a quarter over Diatonic(JPN) by Lord Kanaloa(JPN). Bom Servico(JPN) by Daiwa Major(JPN) was a length back in third.

On January 12th, the 1600m G3 Shinzan Kinen at Kyoto Racecourse was the first of the three-year-old only races as we gear into the classic season. Sanctuaire(JPN) by Deep Impact(JPN) a half-sister to dual American G1 winner Yoshida(JPN) by Heart's Cry(JPN). She sat off the pace throughout the first few portions of the race before chasing down Price Return(JPN) by Strong Return(JPN) to get her neck in front for the win. The stretch duel was quite impressive with Cortesia(JPN) by Symboli Kris S(USA) finishing four lengths back in third.

On January 13th, the 1600m G3 Fairy Stakes at Nakayama Racecourse was the first of the three-year-old fillies only classic preps of the year. Third favorite Smile Kana(JPN) by Deep Impact(JPN), out of a half-sister to dual G1 winner A Shin Hikari(JPN) by Deep Impact(JPN), went wire to wire in the mile-long race. She easily beat the competition, finishing two and a half lengths in front of second-place finisher Chain of Love(JPN) by Heart's Cry(JPN). It was another length and a quarter back to third-place finisher Pollentia(JPN) by Heart's Cry(JPN).

On January 18th, the 2000m G3 Aichi Hai at Kokura Racecourse was for fillies and mares only. Veteran racemare Denko Ange(JPN) by Meisho Samson(JPN), who already had two graded stakes titles and a G1 runner up effort in her long resume under her belt, got up for the win. She was in the back of the pack and had to weave through the pack in the stretch but got her neck in front of the fellow seven-year-old Reiho Romance(JPN) by Harbinger(GB). Armeria Bloom(JPN) by Dream Journey(JPN) put up a last-minute effort to get up there, but Denko Ange(JPN) held on as they hit the wire. Armeria Bloom(JPN) was second by a neck with Reiho Romance(JPN) was another neck back in third.

On January 19th, the 2000m G3 Keisei Hai at Nakayama Racecourse is a top-class G1 Satsuki Sho(Japanese 2000 Guineas) prep race. Seventh betting favorite Crystal Black(JPN) by Kizuna(JPN) upset the event coming from far behind, swinging wide in the turn for home to storm down the stretch to catch favorite Sky Groove(JPN) by Epiphaneia(JPN) just before the wire to win by half a length. Diastima(JPN) by Deep Impact(JPN) was two and a half lengths back in third.

Also, on January 19th, the 2400m G2 Nikkei Shinshun Hai at Kyoto Racecourse saw A T Lassen(JPN) by Summer Bird(USA) jump to the lead to set the early pace throughout the majority of the mile and a half long race. The six-year-old's attempt to wire the race was thwarted by two younger horses. Just before the 200m mark, Mozu Bello(JPN) by Deep Brillante(JPN) surged past the pacesetter to take the lead and win by two and a half lengths. Red Leon(JPN) by Deep Impact(JPN) rallied to beat A T Lassen(JPN) by three-quarters of a length to finish second. A T Lassen(JPN) was third.

On January 26th, the 1800m G2 Tokai Stakes at Kyoto Racecourse is a key prep race for the G1 February Stakes. Favorite Inti(JPN) by Came Home(USA) didn't go to the lead as has been his typical running style for the past year, instead settling mid-back. Air Almas(USA) by Majestic Warrior(USA) was second favorite in the betting stalked the pace early on before hitting the lead in the turn for home, holding off rallies by Inti(JPN) and Vengeance(JPN) by Casino Drive(USA). Vengeance(JPN) was second by half a length and Inti(JPN) was a further half-length back in third.

Also, on January 26th, the 2200m G2 American Jockey Club Cup at Nakayama Racecourse saw the triumphant return of G1 winner Blast Onepiece(JPN) by Harbinger(GB) after taking off the fall off after a disappointing run in the G1 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe last October. He broke well, setting mid-pack early on in the race. As they turned for home, he was just behind Stay Foolish(JPN) by Stay Gold(JPN), who was stalking the pace. Stay Foolish(JPN) made a massive effort taking control of the race, but G1 winner Blast Onepiece(JPN) wore him down to win by a length and a quarter. Last Draft(JPN) by Novellist(IRE) was forced wide in the turn for home, putting him at a massive disadvantage, but he made up tremendous ground as he neared the finish to come in third by only a length and three quarters more.

All JRA graded stakes results and race replays are available on Japan Association for International Racing, and Stud Book (JAIRS)'s website:

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