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.
Other Horses :
4th: (8) Win Carnelian - chased leader in 2nd, showed tenacity but overtaken by Galore
Creek in last 100m
5th: (5) Satono Flag - traveled 3-wide in 9th, made headway and turned for home in 4th,
lacked needed kick
6th: (13) Darlington Hall - took wide trip behind winner, quickened in last 200m, belatedly
7th: (3) Cortesia - ran in 10th along rails, found little room at early stretch, showed effort
8th: (17) Weltreisende - raced around 7th, ran willingly until 100m out, weakened
9th: (9) Black Hole - trailed in rear, circled wide, showed belated charge, tied 3rd fastest over
last 3 furlongs
10th: (6) Deep Bond - hugged rails around 4th, ran gamely until 100m out, outrun thereafter
11th: (2) L'Excellence - saved ground around 14th, improved position at stretch but never a
12th: (10) American Seed - keen to go rounding 1st corner, settled towards rear, passed tired
13th: (12) My Rhapsody - sat around 12th outside winner, driven after 3rd corner, failed to
14th: (18) Bitterender - tracked leaders in 3rd, showed brief effort up to 200m pole, weakened
15th: (15) Rhinebeck - raced 3-wide in 6th, advanced along backstretch, gradually fell back after
16th: (11) Crystal Black - traveled 2nd from rear, unable to reach contention
17th: (14) Chimera Verite - set pace from wide stall, widened gap at backstretch, tired at stretch
18th: (4) Tempin - broke well, took economic trip around 7th, faded after 3rd corner