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September 17, 2021 (Fri)

August JRA Graded Stakes Review

Summer racing in Japan was still in full swing in August. Some of the first few fall G1 prep races were also held, adding to the usual excitement of the month's calendar.

In the 1800m G3 Queen Stakes at Hakodate Racecourse on August 1st, blue blood won the day when Terzetto(JPN) by Deep Impact(JPN), who is out of a half-sister to G1 winners Loves Only You(JPN) and Real Steel(JPN) both also by Deep Impact(JPN), got up to claim her second graded stakes title. Until this year, the filly had been lightly raced but in 2021 has nearly doubled her overall career starts. In April, she won the G3 Lord Derby Challenge Trophy before falling flat when put up against the best of her sex in the G1 Victoria Mile in May. The summer off seems to have done her well, and despite a slow break, she settled in the back, biding her time. At the 400m mark, she still had a lot of ground to make up, but once they hit the straight, she was given a perfect trip to thread through her rivals and get her neck in front. Magic Castle(JPN) by Deep Impact(JPN) was second, and Satono Cecil(GB) by Frankel(GB) was another neck back in third.

The 1800m G3 Leopard Stakes over the dirt course at Niigata Racecourse on August 8th was for three-year-olds only. Winner Meisho Murakumo(JPN) made a massive statement in the race by demolishing his rivals by three lengths. He stalked the pace throughout before making his move in the stretch, but no one seemed able to catch the son of Neo Universe(JPN) as he stormed home to claim his first graded stakes title. Sweep the Board(JPN) by Swept Overboard(USA) was second, and Repun Kamuy(JPN) by Kizuna(JPN) another three-quarters of a length back in third.

The 1700m G3 Elm Stakes over the dirt course at Hakodate Racecourse on August 8th was open to three-year-olds and up. G3 winner Suave Aramis(JPN) by Heart's Cry(JPN) sat mid-pack throughout the race and weaved his way through traffic down the stretch to get up the lead and hold off challengers to win by half a length. Omega Rainbow(JPN) by I'll Have Another(USA) went wide after being positioned mid-pack early on but could not catch the winner and had to settle for second. Lord Bless(JPN) by Danon Ballade(JPN) was a length and a quarter back in third.

In the 2000m, G3 Kokura Kinen at Kokura Racecourse on August 15th, Mozu Nagareboshi(JPN) gave his sire Grand Prix Boss(JPN) his first graded stakes winner at stud. The four-year-old colt was in the back of the pack for the majority of the race before he swung super wide as they turned from home, and he launched into an intense stretch drive. As he made his way down the stretch, he met up with Humidor(JPN) by Orfevre(JPN), and for a brief while, the two engaged in a little for supremacy, but ultimately Mozu Nagareboshi(JPN) was the better on the day, finishing a confident half a length in the lead. Humidor(JPN) had to settle for second, and Super Feather(JPN) by Deep Impact(JPN) was two and a half lengths back in third.

In the 1600m, G3 Sekiya Kinen at Niigata Racecourse on August 15th Lotus Land(USA) by Point of Entry(USA) earned her first graded stakes victory. She was positioned right behind the pacesetter through the yearly stages of the race before hugging the rail and taking over the lead at the 300m mark. She held on to win by a length and a quarter over a pair of fast closing rivals. Karate(JPN) by To the Glory(JPN) and Songline(JPN) by Kizuna(JPN) were charging down the middle of the track in hopes of catching Lotus Land(JPN), but they finished second and third a neck apart.

The 1200m G3 Kitakyushu Kinen at Kokura Racecourse on August 22nd ended with a big bang when Yoka Yoka(JPN) by Squirtle Squirt(USA) became the first horse bred in Kumamoto prefecture to win a graded stakes in the JRA. Kumamoto Prefecture produces less than 30 horses a year, about half of the horses born on the island of Kyushu yearly. This small farming community has gotten a lot of press since the filly impressed as a two-year-old and seems to be getting even better. As a three-year-old filly against older horses and mares, she did have a weight allowance, but the race was run as a handicap, so many horses were running at or near her same weight as well. She stalked the pace in the first stages of the sprint before taking off to win by a comfortable length and a quarter. First Force(JPN) by Lord Kanaloa(JPN) was second and G1 winner Mozu Superflare(USA) by Speightstown(USA) was a neck back in third.

The 2000m G2 Sapporo Kinen at Sapporo Racecourse on August 22nd was one of the most anticipated races of the month. It was the first race back for superstar three-year-old all-white Sodashi(JPN) by Kurofune(USA). She had become the first all-white thoroughbred to win a G1 race last year, and then this year, she became the first all-white thoroughbred to win a classic race. The wildly popular filly took an unusual start to her fall season, taking on older horses and males for the first time when most three-year-olds of her level stick with their own age and often sex, preferring to use some of the September graded stakes races as a lead into the G1 Shuka Sho in October. To make the race even more challenging, she was up against two-time G1 winner Loves Only You(JPN) by Deep Impact(JPN) and a slew of other graded stakes and G1 winners. However, she continued to live up to the hype her coloring has given her and beat them by a solid three-quarters of a length, proving she is as good over 2000m as she is over a mile. Loves Only You(JPN) was a fast-closing second, and G1 winner Persian Knight(JPN) by Harbinger(GB) was a head back in third.

In the 1600m, G3 Niigata Nisai Stakes at Niigata Racecourse on August 29th, third favorite Serifos(JPN) by Daiwa Major(JPN) captured his first graded stakes title. He sat mid-pack and hugged the rail as he made his way up to the lead by the 100m mark and won by an easy length and a quarter. Arrival(JPN) by Harbinger(GB) went wide for most of his trip, sitting about mid-pack, and it took him some time to finally kick into high gear, but he got rolling in the late stages of the race to finish second. Otaru Ever(JPN) by Leontes(JPN) led the way for the majority of the race and managed to hang to finish only three-quarters of a length back in third.

The current trend of three-year-old fillies beating out older mares and horses continued in the 1200m G3 Keeneland Cup at Sapporo Racecourse on August 29th with a gutsy performance from Lei Halia(JPN) by Lord Kanaloa(JPN). She stalked the pace through the yearly stages of the race and had to dig deep to get her way through a slew of other older horses, taking her on to win by a head. Eighteen Girl(JPN) by Johannesburg(USA) got up in the final strides for second. G1 winner Seiun Kosei(JPN) by Admire Moon(JPN) also got up to be third by a neck.

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


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