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November 18, 2020 (Wed)

October JRA Graded Stakes Review

The final half of the 2020 G1 seasons is off to a breathtaking start this month with two history making renewals. In a year darkened by a raging pandemic, Japanese racing fans have been blessed with some truly spectacular racehorses to keep tabs on this year, and they were all on full display this month.

The 1900m G3 Sirius Stakes at Chukyo Racecourse on October 3rd was a prep for both the JPN1 JBC Classic in November and the G1 Champions Cup in December. Cafe Pharoah(USA) by American Pharoah(USA) took on older horses for the first time in his career and had no problem turning them back to win by three-quarters of a length. It was not his usual fireworks, but it was his first win after a few months off. He will have loads of options going into the winter and could face the other top Japanese dirt horse, Chrysoberyl(JPN), soon. Sakura Allure(JPN) by Gold Allure(JPN) was second, and Acorn(JPN) by Furioso(JPN) was a length and a quarter back in third.

The first graded stakes of the season was the 1200m G1 Sprinters Stakes at Nakayama Racecourse on October 4th. Gran Alegria(JPN) by Deep Impact(JPN) gave her late sire his first G1 winner over 1200m and did so in spectacular fashion by 3 lengths. A hot pace was set by second favorite Mozu Superflare(USA) by Speightstown(USA), who was pressured much of the way by a keen Bien Fait(JPN) by Kizuna(JPN). This hot pace beautifully set up several closers and none more brilliantly than Gran Alegria(JPN), who came from nearly the back of the back to the lead in the final 100m of the race. She rocketed past everyone to win by a stunning two lengths. Danon Smash(JPN) by Lord Kanaloa(JPN) was second, and A Will a Way(JPN) by Just a Way(JPN) was a half-length back in third.

The October 10th 1600m G3 Saudi Arabia Royal Cup was the first two-year-old graded stakes held at Tokyo Racecourse this year. Despite his advancing age, Bago(FR) has had a brilliant two years on the track. The 19-year-old stallion is the sire of the two time G1 winner Chrono Genesis(JPN) and now has a very promising son in Stella Veloce(JPN). The colt bided his time in the back of the pack before making his move in the stretch sprinting down the center of the track, taking the lead at the 200m pole, and drew away to win by three lengths. Infinite(JPN) by Maurice(JPN) was second, and Seiun Deimos(JPN) by Lohengrin(JPN) was another two and a half lengths back in third.

The 1800m G2 Mainichi Okan at Tokyo Racecourse on October 11th is always a fan favorite race due as it is a primary prep race for the G1 Tenno Sho Fall at the beginning of November. This year's renewal ended up being a paid workout for the very talented Salios(JPN) by Heart's Cry(JPN). Salios(JPN) has spent most of his career in the shadow of Contrail(JPN) by Deep Impact(JPN). He lost out on being Champion Two-Year-Old last year despite being an undefeated G1 winner and then this year was second in the G1 Satsuki Sho and the G1 Japanese Derby. His connections decided to bypass the 3000m G1 Kikuka Sho and aim for more middle distance races for the fall. He proved much the best over 1800m in his first race against older horses in the Mainichi Okan, setting himself up to take on Champion Almond Eye(JPN) in the 2000m G1 Tenno Sho Fall in November. Daiwa Cagney(JPN) by King Kamehameha(JPN) was second, and Sanrei Pocket(JPN) by Jungle Pocket(JPN) was a nose back in third.

The 2400m G2 Kyoto Daishoten at Kyoto Racecourse on October 11th was made up of some of Japan's strongest stayers. After a shockingly poor performance in the G1 Takarazuka Kinen this summer, Glory Vase(JPN) by Deep Impact(JPN), who had his spring campaign ruined by the Dubai World Cup Carnival getting canceled last minute, regained his form. Third favorite Glory Vase(JPN) stalked the pace throughout the mile and a half race and worked his way up to the lead around the 100m mark. Kiseki(JPN) by Rulership(JPN) was narrowly denied a long-sought out win, having returned to his come from behind running style he had as a three-year-old. He started making his move early, coming wide on the outside, but Glory Vase(JPN) hit the lead before he could catch up and finished three-quarters of a length back in second. King of Koji(JPN) by Lord Kanaloa(JPN) was a length back in third.

The 1800m G2 Ireland Trophy Fuchu Himba Stakes at Tokyo Racecourse on October 17th had an unusually small field of just eight fillies and mares. Five-year-old Salacia(JPN) by Deep Impact(JPN) posted an upset as the seventh favorite, sitting mid-pack before making her move in the turn for home, going on to win by a comfortable three lengths. Shadow Diva(JPN) by Heart's Cry(JPN) was second, and Something Just(JPN) by Victoire Pisa(JPN) was a further length and a quarter back in third.

There was a lot of hype going into the 2020 renewal of the 1800m G1 Shuka Sho on October 18th, with the undefeated Daring Tact(JPN) by Epiphaneia(JPN) looking to make history. No filly had ever won the Filly Triple Crown undefeated before in the JRA, until now. Daring Tact(JPN) handily won Shuka Sho on by a length and a half after working her way up from near the back of the pack, never in any danger of losing. It was a significant achievement not just for all those involved with the filly but for fans of racing who had finally been allowed back into the track for the first time since the pandemic started. While attendance was capped to a minimum, the cheer of those in attendance made it feel all the more special. Magic Castle(JPN) by Deep Impact(JPN) was second, and it was three-quarters of a length back Soft Fruit(JPN) by Deep Impact(JPN) in third.

In the G2 1600m Fuji Stakes at Tokyo Racecourse on October 24th, Vin de Garde(JPN) by Deep Impact(JPN) posted a mild upset earning his first graded stakes win. He sat mid-pack before launching into a furious stretch drive, picking off rivals one by one before hitting the lead to win by a length and a quarter. Lauda Sion(JPN) by Real Impact(JPN) was second, and Keiai Nautique(JPN) by Deep Impact(JPN) was third by another length and a quarter.

The G1 3000m Kikuka Sho (Japanese St. Leger) at Kyoto Racecourse on October 25th has been on everyone's mind since Contrail(JPN) crossed the finish line in the G1 Japanese Derby back in May. There had not been an undefeated Triple Crown winner since his sire Deep Impact(JPN) completed the trio in 2005. Deep Impact(JPN), in all his years at stud and with all of his G1 winners, had yet to sire a horse who was able to achieve the same success he had had on the track himself. All eyes were on Contrail, and he did not disappoint. The race was not a walk in the park for the nearly black colt. He had to fight got it and hold off a persistent Aristoteles(JPN) by Epiphaneia(JPN), who had stalked him the entire way. A champion wins no matter what, even when conditions are not perfect, and 3000m is a very long way to go. Contrail (JPN) did his job and kept his neck in front to claim the Triple Crown title by a neck. Satono Flag(JPN) by Deep Impact(JPN) was three and a half lengths back in third.

The G3 1600m Artemis Stakes at Tokyo Racecourse on October 31st was exciting in its own way as the solid white filly Sodashi(JPN) by Kurofune(USA) got up to snag her second graded stakes race with ease. No white thoroughbred has ever won two internationally recognized graded stakes races anywhere in the world. The win puts the rare filly in the perfect position to run in the G1 Hanshin Juvenile Fillies in mid December. Winning a G1 would be a significant achievement on the world's stage. Kukuna(JPN) by King Kamehameha(JPN) was a length and three quarters back in second, and it was another half of a length back to Ten Happy Rose(JPN)by Epiphaneia(JPN).

The G2 1400m Swan Stakes at Kyoto Racecourse on October 31st saw a massive upset when 11th favorite Katsuji(JPN) by Deep Impact(JPN) ran away with the race. The five-year-old broke fast and took the lead, and never looked back to win by a length. This was his first graded stakes win since he was a three-year-old. G1 winner Stelvio(JPN) by Lord Kanaloa(JPN) was second, and multiple G1 winner Admire Mars(JPN) by Daiwa Major(JPN) was a half-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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