Five-Year-Old Mare Mozu Superflare Registers First G1 Victory in Takamatsunomiya Kinen
In this year’s Takamatsunomiya Kinen, which became the first JRA-G1 race to be held without spectators due to the outbreak of the COVID-19, ninth pick Mozu Superflare claimed her first G1 title while crossing the wire in second, as Kurino Gaudi was demoted to fourth place due to an interference. This is the first case in JRA-G1 history, in which a horse who crossed the wire first was demoted, since Buena Vista was demoted to second in the 2010 Japan Cup. Mozu Superflare, only raced in 1,200m and 1,400m races since her debut, attained her first graded victory in last year’s Ocean Stakes (G3, 1,200m) and though finishing a disappointing 15th in the following Takamatsunomiya Kinen, marked a runner-up effort in the Sprinters Stakes (G1, 1,200m) in September. She kicked off this season with a fourth in the Silk Road Stakes (G3, 1,200m) on February 2. This win marked trainer Hidetaka Otonashi’s 13th JRA-G1 victory following the Champions Cup with Chrysoberyl in December last year. Jockey Fuma Matsuwaka celebrated his first JRA-G1 victory and seventh graded win since debuting in 2014.
The field of 18 broke smoothly with fourth pick Diatonic dashing out but easing back to let Mozu Superflare take the front followed by sixth pick Seiun Kosei and 15th pick Kurino Gaudi. While Mozu Superflare, still leading the field entering the lane, accelerated strongly for a wire-to-wire victory, Kurino Gaudi, followed by Diatonic, closed in from the outside, and caught up with the leader 100 meters out. Second choice Gran Alegria, who took the outer route turning the corners after traveling 5-6th from the rear, produced an impressive burst of speed, running the tied fastest of the field in the last three furlongs, and caught up with the front three horses 50 meters out to unfold a four-horse rally before the wire.
After a long inquiry, Kurino Gaudi, who crossed the wire first, was demoted to fourth for interfering with Mozu Superflare and Diatonic 100m out, giving Mozu Superflare her first G1 title. Gran Alegria and Diatonic who came in third and fourth were promoted to second and third, respectively.
“She broke well as I hoped she would and was able race in her own rhythm. With the sun coming out in the afternoon, the ground was not as bad as we had anticipated, which I think worked in her favor. To be honest, I thought that we had lost when we crossed the wire but I’m genuinely happy that we were able to win our first G1 title,” commented Fuma Matsuwaka.Race favorite Tower of London broke well, traveled in mid-division and turned wide around the last corner to make bid but was unable to exert his usual strong late kick and finish 12th.
THE 50TH TAKAMATSUNOMIYA KINEN (G1)
FP: Final Position / BK: Bracket Number / PP: Post Position / S&A: Sex & Age / Wgt: Weight (kg) / DH: Dead Heat / L3F: Time of Last 3 Furlongs (600m)
Color: b.=bay / bl.=black / br.=brown / ch.=chestnut / d.b.=dark bay / d.ch.=dark chestnut / g.=gray / w.=white
Turnover for the Race alone: ¥ 12,701,348,200 Turnover for the Day: ¥ 20,032,214,400PAY-OFF (for ¥100)
Winner: 21 starts, 7 wins, 5 seconds / Added money: ¥ 103,402,000 / Career earnings: ¥ 411,714,000
* Takamatsunomiya Kinen (G1)
The Takamatsunomiya Kinen, one of two G1 championship events for sprinters held by the JRA together with the Sprinters Stakes (G1, 1,200m) in autumn, was formerly named Takamatsunomiya Cup in honor of Prince Takamatsunomiya who presented the trophy to the winner in 1971. The race was shortened from 2,000 meters to 1,200 meters and granted a Japanese Grade 1 status in 1996, then renamed Takamatsunomiya Kinen in 1998. The first of flat turf G1 events held annually, the race was temporarily shifted to Hanshin Racecourse in 2011 and was contested over the newly renovated track back at Chukyo in the following year with added challenges of an uphill and a longer homestretch exceeding 400 meters.
The Takamatsunomiya Kinen was designated an international race in 2001 and welcomed its first two foreign participants—Disturbingthepeace (13th) and Echo Eddie (17th)—from the U.S. in 2003 and was part of the Global Sprint Challenge, the international championship series for sprinters between 2011 and 2017. Aerovelocity (NZ, by Pins) from Hong Kong became the first foreign horse to win the race in 2015 and Blizzard (AUS, by Starcraft), also from Hong Kong, finished fifth in 2018.
Last year’s champion, Mr Melody (USA, H5, by Scat Daddy), was planning to commence the current season with his first overseas endeavor, the Al Quoz Sprint (G1, 1,200m), in the Dubai World Cup meeting but the meeting was called off due to the outbreak of the COVID-19.2019 Oka Sho (Japanese 1000 Guineas, G1, 1,600m) winner and Best Three-Year-Old Filly Gran Alegria ran her first race after winning the Hanshin Cup (G2, 1,400m; Dec.21) last year. Key contenders from the prep races were: from the Silk Road Stakes, A Will a Way (1st), last year’s Sprinters Stakes runner-up Mozu Superflare (4th) and 2017 Takamatsunomiya Kinen victor Seiun Kosei (5th); from the Hankyu Hai (G3, 1,400m; Mar.1), Diatonic (3rd) and 2018 Mile Championship (G1,1,600m) winner Stelvio (5th); and from the Ocean Stakes (G3, 1,200m; Mar.7), Danon Smash (1st), Nac Venus (2nd) and last year’s Sprinters Stakes champion Tower of London (3rd) . The field also included I Love Tailor and Mozu Ascot who came off a win in the Yodo Tankyori Stakes (L, 1,200m; Jan.11) and the February Stakes (G1, dirt, 1,600m; Feb.23), respectively, as well as last year’s Victoria Mile (G1, 1,600m) victor Normcore.