2015 News

October 6, 2015


Japan Racing Journal Feature Article: "Review of Japanese Horse Racing in the First Half of 2015"

Shintaro Kano
Kyodo News

The spotlight shone on Duramente during the first half of the 2015 JRA season, the latest prized colt of Sunday Racing capturing the first two titles of the Japanese Triple Crown.

The son of Grade 1 champions King Kamehameha and Admire Groove, Duramente, under Mirco Demuro, won the Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas) and Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby) in becoming the first horse since Orfevre in 2011 to sweep the first two Triple Crown races. He is the 23rd horse to accomplish the feat.

In the Derby, Duramente broke the race record held by his sire, shaving one-tenth of a second off the old mark to win in 2 minutes, 23.2 seconds over the 2,400 meters at Tokyo Racecourse.

Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas) (G1)
Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas)
Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby) (G1)
Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby)
Tenno Sho (Spring) (G1)
Tenno Sho (Spring)

"I'm absolutely thrilled to have won my first Derby as a full-time JRA jockey," said Demuro, who has been issued a season-long license from this year along with Christophe Lemaire, after the May 31 race. "There was pressure as the favorite. He was a little excited today and couldn't settle through the first two turns.

"But he eased after that and we managed to travel the rest of the way in a good position. He got knocked around a bit on the straight but once he turned his foot, he was incredible. We missed the record in the Satsuki Sho because I was too busy celebrating but today, I was able to show just how strong this horse is. I'm really looking forward to things in the fall."

Duramente, however, will have to sit out the autumn campaign - ownership was even considering the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe over a shot at completing the Triple Crown - after he was found to have fractured the radial bone in both legs. He is expected to make a full recovery by next spring.

Takarazuka Kinen (G1)
Takarazuka Kinen
Victoria Mile (G1)
Victoria Mile
Oka Sho (Japanese 1000 Guineas) (G1)
Oka Sho (Japanese 1000 Guineas)

Gold Ship may have grabbed just as many headlines but had mixed results, going from heaven with his first spring Tenno Sho victory to hell by finishing a career worst 15th in the Takarazuka Kinen.

In a renewed partnership with jockey Norihiro Yokoyama, the 6-year-old dapple grey assured himself of a place in the history books in the Emperor's Cup with his sixth career Grade 1 win, taking his earnings to almost 1.4 billion yen.

But in his following start in the Takarazuka Kinen - a race he had won the last two years - the Naosuke Sugai-trained horse stood up inside the gate and stared lengths behind the field. Gold Ship never had a chance in what turned out to be one of the biggest flops in recent memory.

"He was the same as always during warm-ups, and he was fine when he first went into his stall," Yokoyama said. "But just before we went off he started snarling and things turned out the way they did. I'm not sure why he did what he did; you'll have to ask him."

Equally wild was the Victoria Mile which produced a G1 record payout after fifth choice Straight Girl took the tape, with 12th choice Keiai Elegant in second and least favored Minaret in third. The trifecta paid out 20,705,810 yen to the minimum wager of 100 yen.

Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks) (G1)
Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks)
February Stakes (G1)
February Stakes

In the filly's Classic races, Let's Go Donki and Mikki Queen split the Oka Sho (Japanese 1000 Guineas) and Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks), respectively, and the two are on course for a rematch in the Oct. 18 Shuka Sho, the third and final leg of the ladies' Triple Crown.

The JRA's trip to Dubai proved to be barren this year as none of the seven runners could muster a win from three races - the Dubai World Cup, Dubai Duty Free and UAE Derby.

In the signature $10 million Dubai World Cup, Hokko Tarumae finished fifth while Epiphaneia, then the second highest rated horse in the world, was last in a field of nine in what turned out to be the final race of his career. The 2014 Japan Cup winner was retired in July after developing suspensory desmitis while training for his comeback run in the Takarazuka Kinen.

In the JRA's lone G1 dirt contest of the spring, Copano Rickey became the first horse to successfully defend the February Stakes title. Jockey Yutaka Take rode to his first G1 victory since 2013.

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