Unbeaten Race Favorite Contrail Claims This Year's Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas) Title
Contrail validated his G1 victory last year in his three-year-old debut, the Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas) and remained unbeaten in all four career starts. He will be aiming for his third G1 title in the coming Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby, G1, 2,400m) in the hope of following the footsteps of his sire Deep Impact. Following his victory in his September debut as a two-year-old, the brown colt scored his first graded victory in the Tokyo Sports Hai Nisai Stakes (G3, 1,800m) in November, concluded the season with a G1 victory in the Hopeful Stakes (G1, 2,000m) and named JRA’s 2019 Best Two-Year-Old Colt. Trainer Yoshito Yahagi claimed his second G1 of this season after the February Stakes with Mozu Ascot and 11th JRA-G1 overall. Jockey Yuichi Fukunaga won his 26th JRA-G1 title, the first since the Hopeful Stakes with the same colt last year, and became the 11th JRA jockey to have won all five classic titles for three-year-old colts and fillies.
Breaking from the innermost stall, Contrail stayed along the rails and sat off the pace in mid-field behind a brisk pace set by Chimera Verite. As the field closed up approaching the third corner, Fukunaga shifted the Deep Impact colt to the outside and almost came out of nowhere then immediately into contention with the front runners after circling wide into the stretch. The last furlong was a duel match with Salios who didn’t give way easily but Contrail outran the Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes victor by half a length to claim the first leg of the Triple Crown.
“He won strongly today. The race itself wasn’t the way as I had expected—I actually had the idea of him racing further up in front as usual—but as it turned out, he wasn’t keen to go up front early and I didn’t push him so we were positioned much farther behind going around the second corner, so I had no choice but to change lanes to the outside after that, but with the way he was moving in the post parade and the response once I took him to the outside, I had every confidence in him entering the stretch. His power was so that I thought we might pull away but Salios didn’t let us win so easily. Winning the way he did today, I am confident that he has every reason to handle the extended distance in the coming Derby,” commented Yuichi Fukunaga.
Third choice Salios, who came into the race unbeaten in three starts as a two-year-old, two of them graded titles including the G1 Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes, broke well from stall seven and tracked the pace around fifth position just off the rails for most of the trip. The Heart’s Cry colt maintained good speed as the field started to close up from behind and assumed command at the furlong pole while immediately joined by the winner from the outside but held well to the wire although beaten in the last strides.Eighth pick Galore Creek under Lyle Hewitson broke from an outside draw and watched the early front runners pass before edging closer and outside the eventual winner in mid-field. The Kinshasa no Kiseki colt made gradual headway approaching the third corner, had to shift to the outside again as the horses in front closed his path soon into the stretch but showed impressive speed in the last stages while having to cover ground for third.
THE 80TH SATSUKI SHO (JAPANESE 2000 GUINEAS, 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: ¥ 15,371,814,700 Turnover for the Day: ¥ 24,589,711,400PAY-OFF (for ¥100)
Winner= 4 starts, 4 wins / Added money: ¥ 134,633,000 / Career earnings: ¥ 245,900,000
* Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas) (G1)
The Satsuki Sho, which is the first of the three legs of JRA’s Triple Crown Classics for three-year-olds including the Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby, G1, 2,400m) and the Kikuka Sho (Japanese St. Leger, G1, 3,000m), is comparable to British Two Thousand Guineas. The “Yokohama Norinsho Shoten Yonsai Yobiuma”, the precursor of the Satsuki Sho, was first run over 1,850 meters at Yokohama Racecourse in 1939 then moved its venue to Tokyo Racecourse four years later before given its current name and shifted again to Nakayama Racecourse in 1949—the distance was also altered to 2,000 meters in the following year.
Seven of the past Satsuki Sho champions since 2005 subsequently received the JRA Best Three-Year-Old Colt Award, in recognition of their outstanding performances throughout the year—Deep Impact (JPN, Sunday Silence) in 2005, Meisho Samson (JPN, by Opera House) in 2006, Victoire Pisa (JPN, by Neo Universe) in 2010, Orfevre (JPN, by Stay Gold) in 2011, Gold Ship (JPN, by Stay Gold) in 2012, Isla Bonita (JPN, by Fuji Kiseki) in 2014, Duramente (JPN, by King Kamehameha) in 2015, and Saturnalia (JPN, by Lord Kanaloa) last year. Triple Crown winners Deep Impact and Orfevre were also named the Horse of the Year.
The Satsuki Sho of this year became their three-year-old debut for 2019 Best Two-Year-Old Colt and Hopeful Stakes (G1, 2,000m) victor Contrail and Salios, winner of the Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes (G1, 1,600m), while those coming off trial races included Satono Flag and 2019 Sapporo Nisai Stakes (G3, 1,800m) victor Black Hole who were first and fourth, respectively, in the Yayoi Sho (Deep Impact Kinen) (G2, 2,000m; Mar.8), Chimera Verite, runner-up in the Wakaba Stakes (L, 2,000m; Mar.21) and the two top finishers of the Spring Stakes (G2, 1,800m; Mar.22), winner Galore Creek and Weltreisende, runner-up in this the race and also runner-up in the Hopeful Stakes.This year’s Satsuki Sho field also included My Rhapsody, Crystal Black, Cortesia, Darlington Hall and L’Excellence, respective winners of the Kyoto Nisai Stakes (G3, 2,000m; Nov.23), the Keisei Hai (G3, 2,000m; Jan.19), the Kisaragi Sho (G3, 1,800m; Feb.9), the Kyodo News Hai (G3, 1,800m; Feb.16) and the Sumire Stakes (L, 2,000m).