Second Favorite Gran Alegria showed a performance of another class in this year’s Oka Sho (Japanese 1000 Guineas), the first leg of the fillies Triple Crown, to exceed Almond Eye’s accomplishment just a year ago and renew the race record by 0.4 seconds. Winning her two-year-old debut in June last year while beating Danon Fantasy by two lengths, the Deep Impact filly promptly scored her first grade-race title in her next start in the Saudi Arabia Royal Cup (G3, 1,600m) in October and finished third against boys in the Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes (G1, 1,600m) in December and hadn’t raced since until the Oka Sho which was her first start of her three-year-old campaign. Trainer Kazuo Fujisawa won his second Oka Sho title—his first being with Dance in the Mood in 2004—and 27th JRA-G1 overall while Christophe Lemaire also won his second Oka Sho title after Almond Eye last year and is now with 23 JRA-G1 titles.
Gran Alegria was allowed to settle close to the pace in fourth position, two wide, behind Pourville who set an easy going pace in the first half of the mile distance but Christophe Lemaire let the powerful filly unleash her exceptional speed after that and was already taking command before the 600-meter pole then continued to pull away uncontested to the finish line for a 2-1/2 length victory.
“She certainly won strongly today. I was a little bit worried as it was her first time out after a long break (111 days). She was unable to make use of her speed in the Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes (3rd) so I made sure this time to secure a good position early on and from there I had every confidence in her exceptional speed. The extended 2,400 meters in the Yushun Himba though is going to be a tough race for us,” commented Christophe Lemaire.
Shigeru Pink Dia missed a beat, breaking from an outside draw, and was still well behind after the first 800 meters but showed impressive turn of speed as the field rounded the final turn and squeezed her way between horses to reach contention with the fastest finish over the last three furlongs, overtaking the tired Pourville then out-rallying both Danon Fantasy and Chrono Genesis for second place.
Chrono Genesis was keen early and held back in mid-field while saving ground along the rails, met traffic before shifting to the outside in the early stretch and turned in a powerful turn of speed once out in the clearing to pin Danon Fantasy just before the wire for third.Race favorite Danon Fantasy tried to pull hard early, having to make ground from an outside draw, and finally settled once reaching a more forward position around fifth from the leader. She made her bid down the center lane but was no match for the winner while maintaining good effort to rally for second and finished fourth.
Other Horses :
5th: (14) Beach Samba - sat back in mid-division, made headway before 3rd corner, chased favorite, overtaken
by Chrono Genesis in final strides
6th: (18) Pourville - set pace from widest stall, held well, weakened in last 100m
7th: (2) Aile Voix - took economic route in mid-pack, showed effort, outrun in last 100m
8th: (13) Juranville - tracked leader in 2nd, showed tenacity, weakened in last 100m
9th: (1) Schon Glanz - hugged rails 3rd from rear, angled out, showed belated charge
10th: (7) A Will a Way - sat 3-wide in mid-group, even paced after final corner
11th: (12) No One - settled in mid-division, checked at early stretch, passed tired rivals
12th: (11) Meisho Keimei - chased leaders in 3rd, ran out of steam in last 300m
13th: (9) Aqua Mirabilis - ran 3-wide in mid-pack, showed brief effort, dropped back in last 200m
14th: (17) Red Aster - was off slow, raced 2nd from rear, showed little at stretch
15th: (10) Figlia Pura - trailed in rear, unable to reach contention
16th: (6) Ho O Catherine - saved ground around 5th, gradually fell back
17th: (3) Noble Score - hugged rails in mid-group, never fired at straight
18th: (5) Regard Calme - traveled in mid-division, checked at top of stretch, lost momentum