Third pick World Premiere claimed the last leg of the three-year-old Triple Crown, the Kikuka Sho (Japanese St. Leger), landing his first G1 and grade-race victory. The Deep Impact colt won his debut start in October of his two-year-old season and was third in his next Kyoto Nisai Stakes (G3, 2,000m). He won his three-year-old debut and followed with a runner-up effort behind Velox in the Wakaba Stakes (Listed, 2,000m), qualifying for the Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas) but had to be sidelined with a bucked shin and did not make his comeback until September in the Kobe Shimbun Hai (G2, 2,400m) in which he was third. Trainer Yasuo Tomomichi won his 12th career JRA-G1 title with the win—his last being the NHK Mile cup with Admire Mars in May—and the Kikuka Sho victory, adding to his Satsuki Sho victory with Unrivaled (2009) and the Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby) with Makahiki (2016) and Wagnerian (2018), made him a winner of all three Triple Crown Classics. Yutaka Take made another record as the oldest jockey to win the classic title at age 50—he already holds the record of the youngest JRA jockey to win the classic when he won the same race with Super Creek in 1988 and his previous (fourth Kikuka Sho title) was with World Premier's sire, Deep Impact in 2005—other previous wins were with Dance in the Dark (1996) and Air Shakur (2000).
Third pick World Premier shot out of the gate but veteran Take was quick hold back the son of Deep Impact into his hands and raced him nicely covered along the rails and just behind race favorite Velox a little further up than mid-field behind Caudillo who dictated a slow pace and maintained a clear lead up to the last corner. As the field moved closer turning for home, Take did not miss an opening in the inside and gave the improving colt the signal as the dark bay increased speed, inherited the lead from the tiring leader at the furlong pole and held off the challenges made by Velox and Satono Lux from the outside for a neck victory.
"He came into the race in good condition and we had a good draw so I was concentrating on giving our best race. He was a bit keen at first but was in hand nicely during the race. He wasn't able to run in the first two of the Triple Crown races so I am glad that he was able to claim the last one (of the Triple Crown title). He's still got a lot to improve so I'm looking forward to his future races," commented Yutaka Take, whose last win in the Kikuka Sho, was with World Premier's sire Deep Impact.
Eighth favorite Satono Lux broke smoothly, bided his time off the pace in mid-field outside a rival, made headway three furlongs out and charged along the outside, speeding past his foes and just short of a neck margin in second.
Race favorite Velox settled nicely within striking position of the leader in sixth or seventh, moved closer with 600 meters to go, chased the eventual winner who came up from the inside but appeared somewhat used up in the final stages and was unable to cause a serious threat while overtaken by Satono Lux and just managing to squeeze out enough energy in the final stages to hold third place.
Other Horses :
4th: (6) Divine Force - settled near rear early, advanced at backstretch, turned wide, showed belated charge
5th: (8) Melody Lane - sat 2nd from rear, circled wide, showed good effort, tied fastest finishing speed over last 3 furlongs
6th: (12) Red Genial - raced around 8th, angled out into stretch, passed tired rivals
7th: (17) Tagano Diamante - traveled 4-wide around 13th, made headway after 3rd corner, weakened in last 200m
8th: (10) Caudillo - set pace, surrendered lead 200m out, fell back
9th: (2) Nishino Daisy - ran around 13th along rails, showed effort but never threatened
10th: (7) Hishi Gekko - raced in 12th, responded well, weakened in last 100m
11th: (15) Ho O Sabel - traveled 3-wide around 8th, ran willingly early stretch, showed little thereafter
12th: (18) Meisho Tengen - broke poorly, advanced to 3rd early then eased back to 6th, outrun after 3rd corner
13th: (1) Zadar - took economic trip in 10th, lacked needed kick at stretch
14th: (16) Naimama - tracked leaders in 3rd, dropped back after 3rd corner
15th: (4) Unicorn Lion - saved ground in 4th, outrun after 3rd corner
16th: (11) Sifflement - trailed in rear, no factor
17th: (9) Vin Quet Domingo - stalked leader in 2nd, used up at early stretch
18th: (3) Calibore - hugged rails 3rd from rear, faded after 3rd corner