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October 6, 2020 (Tue)

August JRA Graded Stakes Review

There had been hopes to open up the Niigata racecourse to spectators in the month of August, but due to another spike of COVID-19 in Japan, those plans were scrapped, and refunds were issued. Racing continued, uninterrupted.

In the 1800m G3 Queen Stakes at Sapporo Racecourse on August 2nd, Red Anemos(JPN) posted a major upset as the eleventh favorite. The daughter of Victoire Pisa(JPN) sat mid-pack early on and after taking cover on the rail, weaved her way through the pack in the stretch to hit the lead around the 100m mark and was able to hold off a rush of the majority of the field to win by three-quarters of a length. Beach Samba(JPN) by Kurofune(USA) was second and Scarlet Color(JPN) also by Victoire Pisa(JPN) was a neck back in third. The next few horses were also only separated by the narrowest of margins.

The 1800m G3 Leopard Stakes at Niigata Racecourse on August 9th is a dirt graded stakes for three-year-olds. In it, the flashy Pyro(USA) colt Kenshinko(JPN) improved off of his third-place finish in the G3 Unicorn Stakes back in June by demolishing his 14 other rivals by two and a half lengths and in record time. He broke sharply before taking the lead and never looking back, making sure he didn't get stuck behind horses like last time, keeping his nearly all-white head pristine for winners' circle photos. Miyaji Kokuo(JPN) by Victoire Pisa(JPN) was second, and three-quarters of a length back in third was Blank Cheque(JPN) by Pyro(USA).

The 1700m G3 Elm Stakes at Sapporo Racecourse on also on August 9th was another dirt graded stakes race held over the weekend but for older horses. Time Flyer(JPN) by Heart's Cry(JPN), a G1 winner at two over turf, finally attainted another graded stakes victory in this race. The now five-year-old had not been in the winners' circle since winning the G1 Hopeful Stakes back in 2017, but over the summer, he finally recovered his form and won a dirt stakes in Hakodate in July. With this newfound form, he was able to handily defeat several other dirt graded stakes winner by a comfortable two lengths. Westerlund(JPN) by Neo Universe(JPN) was second, and Another Truth(JPN) by I'll Have Another(USA) was three-quarters of a length back in third.

In the 2000m G3 Kokura Kinen at Kokura Racecourse on August 16th, R Star(JPN) by Lord Kanaloa(JPN) posted a major upset as the tenth betting favorite. In a bold move, after having spent the majority of the race mid-pack, he skimmed the inside rail to snatch the lead by the 100m mark and hold off a fast closing Satono Garnet(JPN) by Deep Impact(JPN) by one length. Outliers(JPN) by Victoire Pisa(JPN) was a further length and a quarter back in third.

In the 1600m G3 Sekiya Kinen at Niigata Racecourse on August 16th, Satono Arthur(JPN) by Deep Impact(JPN) finally made his way back to the winners circle two years after winning the G3 Epsom Cup in 2018. It wasn't for lack of trying and placings over the past two years, but there was something different about the now six-year-old on the 16th that allowed him to give an awe-inspiring performance. Breaking slowly, he was stuck in the back of the pack for most of the mile-long race; luckily, since Niigata's stretch is nearly 660m long, the pack fanned out a bit, and he was able to make an almost straight shot in-between horses to get to the lead and win by a solid length and a quarter. Trois Etoiles(JPN) by Lord Kanaloa(JPN) was second, and Andraste(JPN) by Orfevre(JPN) was another length and a quarter back in third.

The 1200m G3 Kitakyushu Kinen at Kokura Racecourse on August 23rd was the first run for G1 winner Mozu Superflare(USA) by Speightstown(USA) get back into the swing of things as the G1 Sprinters Stakes approaches, but she needed the run. The five-year-old mare lead the whole way around but was upset down the stretch by eighth favorite Red en Ciel(JPN) by Manhattan Cafe(JPN) by a length and three quarters. A Will a Way(JPN) by Just a Way(JPN) was a head back in third.

The 2000m G2 Sapporo Kinen at Sapporo Racecourse, also on August 23rd, is one of the summer marquee races where many of the big named horses make their first run back from their summer break. Though a bit light this year, the three G1 winners in the race finished in the top three. The post time favorite Lucky Lilac(JPN) by Orfevre(JPN) stalked the pace throughout but ultimately was passed by the second favorite Normcore(JPN) by Harbinger(GB) in the stretch. Normcore(JPN) flashed her typical brilliant turn of foot and was uncatchable as she crossed the line. Persian Knight(JPN), also by Harbinger(GB), was further back in the pack as they rounded for home, and while he was unable to close the length between him and Normcore(JPN) before she crossed the wire, he did finish a length and a half in front of Lucky Lilac(JPN).

The 1600m G3 Niigata Nisai Stakes at Niigata Racecourse on August 30th was another highly anticipated two-year-old stakes race. The accolades went to the foreign bred Shock Action(IRE) by young European stallion Gleneagles(IRE) who broke well before settling mid-pack before making an impressive move in the stretch to win by a length and three quarters. Screen Hero(JPN) 's Blue Symphony(JPN) was second, and Phrase d'Armes (JPN) by Kizuna(JPN) was a further half a length back in third.

The 1200m G3 Keeneland Cup at Sapporo Racecourse, also on August 30th, is one of the main prep races for the G1 Sprinters Stakes in early October. Eighteen Girl(JPN) by Johannesburg(USA) posted a slight upset, coming from the back of the pack to impressively win by a length and a quarter. Right on Cue(JPN) by Shamardal(USA) was second and Deep Impact(JPN) 's Dimension(JPN) was a half a length back in third.

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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