Satono Tiger snares Ohi's Interaction Cup; Cheon Gu's fourth best for Korea three
"Twinkle" action at Ohi Racecourse saw the money stay at home for the second year running as Japanese runners, all from Urawa Racecourse, swept the top three spots of the Oct. 13 Interaction Cup with its international field of 15. Seven was the lucky number and bettors had it on the nose, as the No. 7 Satono Tiger, a 7-year-old son of King Kamehameha, answered expectations in besting the field. Satono Tiger, running under 57 kg, won by 1 length in a time of 1 minute 12.7 seconds over slightly heavy ground. His time was 0.4 seconds slower than last year's winner Satono Daytona and 2.6 seconds off the course record.
Surprising in second and third place were Major Athlete, a 6-year-old also based at Urawa who swept up the outside in the final stages to nab second as ninth pick of the race, and the eighth choice Fire Prince in third. Major Athlete was at the distance for the first time and it was his first appearance at Ohi Racecourse. Fire Prince, a stablemate of the winner, also came from behind but maneuvered deftly onto the rail in the stretch to run up on the inside of Korea's Cheon Gu and cross the line 2 lengths behind the runnerup.
The pace picked up sharply from the second furlong with race second pick Cheon Gu vying for the lead with Coreles Puma and Taisei Legend. Satono Tiger shadowed the frontrunners until the turn home and, hugging the rail, slipped past the 3-year-old Cheon Gu as he started to tire. With Major Athlete making his move on the far outside, Cheon Gu continued to battle gallantly but lost momentum when Fire Prince passed her on the inside to claim third.
Jockey Yoo Seungwan said he was beaten by the difference in pace from what he's used to in Korea. "In Korea, we push them fast from the start, give them a breather later on and then come from behind in the stretch. In Japan, they make their move from the top of the bend or the top of the stretch and I couldn't keep up with that." Yoo said he found the track surface to be superior to what he was used to in Korea and "easy to ride." He said, "Next time I have a chance to ride in Japan, I'd like to be able to handle the trip better."
Cheon Gu's trainer Seo Inseok said his colt was a bit too much on edge. "Normally, if he's not settled in the gate, the jockey will be able to calm his down, but this evening he wasn't to be calmed and so he didn't start as well as usual." Seo said he had "aimed to win, so fourth place is a bit of a disappointment but, still, he gave it his best and since he's still only 3, I have my hopes up for the future."
Cowboy Son's rider Oh Kyunghwan said things had gone as expected from the gate until about midrace, but "the pace was high and he couldn't keep up and wasn't able to give it his best race," Oh said of Cowboy Son. Trainer Lee Sang Young said the jockey has ridden as instructed in fifth or sixth position and that "training went as planned in Korea." However, Lee felt that once in Japan, he wasn't able to give his colt as much work as he would have liked due to the transport. "I couldn't give him the fast work I wanted to."
Ikuyasu Kurakane was paired with Dynamic Jilju and the Japanese rider expressed his disappointment at the poor showing. "I thought he'd do a bit better but 1,200 meters was short for him and he couldn't keep up with the pace." Trainer Kwon Seungju felt the clockwise track was a problem for Dynamic Jilju. "In Korea, racing is to the left and he couldn't handle the righthanded track in Japan. He hung wide and that was a factor in the loss. And, he wasn't able to get the work he needed once in Japan due to transport issues."
Nonetheless, for Korean hopefuls, Cheon Gu's fourth was a big improvement on last year's Cup, which saw Japan-based runners take the top eight spots and the three from Korea finish ninth, 11th and 13th in a field of 13.
This year, the field of the third running of the Interaction Cup was reduced to 15 when likely popular pick Gorski was scratched due to a bruised hoof. This left Satono Tiger as the home team standout having had a number of starts this year at the graded level, including in JRA-sponsored races. Maruka Bakken, the race third choice, was running for the first time since concluding his JRA career. The 8-year-old finished in sixth place a neck behind longshot Tre Bone.
Satono Tiger, out of the Sunday Silence mare Fabulous Turn, was ridden by the Funabashi-based 40-year-old Seiji Sakai and trained by Satoshi Kokubo. Bred at Shadai Farm in Chitose, Hokkaido, Satono Tiger, who won for the first time in over a year, now has eight wins and six seconds from 42 starts. He is owned by Hajime Satomi, CEO and chairman of Sega Sammy Holdings.
Japan-Korea Interaction Cup
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