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March 18, 2021 (Thu)

January JRA Graded Stakes Review

2021 picked up where 2020 left off but with a whole new crop of three-year-olds looking to start their classic journey. The older horse division is filled with fantastic talent for the 2021 JRA racing season.

The 2000m G3 Nakayama Kimpai at Nakayama Racecourse on January 5th was the first graded stakes race of the new year. Post favorite Hishi Iguazu(JPN) by Heart's Cry(JPN) expertly stalked the pace throughout before swinging wide as they turned for home. After the 200m mark, he launched into high gear and wore down his rivals to get his neck in front to claim his first graded stakes title. Kokorono Todai(JPN) by Eishin Flash(JPN) was second, and Win Exceed(JPN) by Manhattan Cafe(JPN) was a length and three quarters back in third.

In the 1600m G3 Kyoto Kimpai at Chukyo Racecourse on January 5th, Cadence Call(JPN) by Lord Kanaloa(JPN) posted quite the upset as the 12th post-time favorite. He sat mid-pack early on before finding himself in third position as they barreled down the stretch. At the 100m mark, the five-year-old showed an impressive turn of foot to draw clear of the field to hit the wire before he could be caught. Peace One Paradis(JPN) by Jungle Pocket(JPN) hit his stride a bit late, and though he closed quickly in the final meters, he had to settle for second by three-quarters of a length. Entscheiden(JPN) by Deep Impact(JPN) was another length back in third. This was Cadence Call(JPN) 's second graded stakes win of his career. He won the G3 Niigata Nishi Stakes in 2018 and was second in the G1 NHK Mile in 2019.

Pixie Knight(JPN) became Maurice(JPN) 's first graded stakes winner of his budding stallion career when he wired the 1600m G3 Shinzan Kinen at Chukyo Racecourse on January 10th. He broke sharp and led all the way around to win by a comfortable length and a quarter. Rooks Nest(JPN), also by Maurice(JPN), was second, and Bathrat Leon(JPN) by Kizuna(JPN) was three-quarters of a length back in third. Maurice(JPN) 's first crop showed a lot of promise last year, and he was second in the freshman sire rankings.

In the 1600m, G3 Fairy Stakes at Nakayama Racecourse on January 11th, Fine Rouge(JPN) by Kizuna(JPN) made quite an impression when she displayed a stunning turn of foot in the stretch to earn her first graded stakes title. She sat mid-pack early on and went very wide down as they turned from home. She then quickly accelerated down the stretch to draw well away from the rest of the pack to win by two and a half lengths. Ho O Ixelles(JPN) by Rulership(JPN) was second, and Bella Nova(JPN) by Epiphaneia(JPN) was a length back in third.

Magic Castle(JPN) by Deep Impact(JPN) has been a bridesmaid in several graded stakes during her brief career. The four-year-old was second in the G3 Fantasy Stakes as a two-year-old in 2019. As a three-year-old, she was second in the G3 Queen Cup before she then finished second to champion Daring Tact(JPN) in the G1 Shuka Sho last fall. On January 16th, she came from near the back of the pack to capture the 2000m G3 Aichi Hai at Chukyo Racecourse by a neck after chasing down Rambling Alley(JPN) by Deep Impact(JPN) in the final 100m. Uranus Charm(JPN) by Rulership(JPN) was three lengths back in third.

The 2000m G3 Keisei Hai at Nakayama Racecourse on January 17th has long been an essential early prep race for the Japanese Triple Crown. This year, favorite Gratias(JPN) by Heart's Cry(JPN) earned his favoritism by handily winning the trial by two and a half lengths. He rode the rail all the way around, closely tracked the pacesetters before sprinting away to the wire. Time to Heaven(JPN) by Lord Kanaloa(JPN) was second, and Ten Bagger(JPN) by Maurice(JPN) was a length and a quarter back in third.

The 2200m G2 Nikkei Shinshun Hai at Chukyo Racecourse on January 17th produced yet another graded stakes winner for Orfevre(JPN) in Shoryu Ikuzo(JPN). Orfevre(JPN) had a great year last year, seemingly having finally started to hit his stride as a stallion. Shoryu Ikuzo(JPN) was seventh in the betting, but he stalked the pace throughout before surging to the lead in the stretch, keeping enough momentum to hold off a fast closing Miss Mamma Mia(JPN) by Tanino Gimlet(JPN) by three-quarters of a length. Courageux Guerrier(JPN) by King Kamehameha(JPN) was a length and quarter back in third.

In the 1800m G2 Tokai Stakes at Chukyo Racecourse on January 24th, Auvergne(JPN) gave his sire Smart Falcon(JPN) his first graded stakes winner in the JRA. He stalked the pace early on before taking charge early in the stretch and never looked back. The five-year-old seemed to revel in the slop as he charged home to win by a strong length and three quarters. Another Truth(JPN) by I'll Have Another(USA) was second, and Memory Ko(JPN) by Espoir City(JPN) was a nose back in third.

The 2200m G2 American Jockey Club Cup at Nakayama Racecourse on January 24th saw the return of Aristoteles(JPN), the only horse that came close to denying Contrail(JPN) to his undefeated Triple Crown title last year. He sat off the pace during the first three-quarters of the race before starting to move up to hit the turn for home with only three rivals in front go him. The son of Epiphaneia(JPN) fought hard over the soft turf to gain his lead with meters to go to cross the wire in first place. Weltreisende(JPN) by Dream Journey(JPN) showed a strong closing kick to finished second by half a length, and Last Draft(JPN) by Novellist(IRE) was a neck back in third.

Red le Zele(JPN) gave Lord Kanaloa(JPN) his first JRA dirt graded stakes winner in the 1400m G3 Negishi Stakes at Tokyo Racecourse on January 31st. He fought hard up through the middle of the pack and dueled with Wonder Lider(JPN) by Statue of Liberty(USA). After a tough battle, Red le Zele(JPN) got his head in front of Wonder Lider(JPN). Time Flyer(JPN) by Heart's Cry(JPN) was a half-length back in third.

Shivaji(USA) by First Samurai(USA) got up to claim his first graded stakes title in the 1200m G3 Silk Road Stakes at Chukyo Racecourse on January 31st. He was slow away and ended up running wide for most of the six-furlong trip, but that didn't seem to affect his finish as he took the lead in the final furlong to win by an indisputable length and a quarter. Right on Cue(JPN) by Shamardal(USA) was second, and Lauda Sion(JPN) by Real Impact(JPN) was third by head.

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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