Breeders’ Cup Turf berth for Japan’s Satono Crown

The Japan Racing Association release on Satono Crown winning the $2.86 million Takarazuka Kinen to earn an automatic berth in the $4 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf:

TAKARAZUKA, HUGO, JAPAN (June 25, 2017) Hajime Satomi’s 5-year-old Satono Crown (JPN) overtook Gold Actor (JPN) in the final yards under jockey Mirco Demuro to win Sunday’s 1 3/8-mile, $2.86 million Takarazuka Kinen (G1) by three-quarters-of-a length at Hanshin Racecourse and earned an automatic berth into the $4 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) through the international Breeders’ Cup Challenge.

The 7-5 favored Takarazuka Kinen (JPN), the 2016 Japan Cup winner and Japanese Horse of the Year, faded in the stretch and finished ninth.

The Breeders’ Cup Challenge is an international series of 81 stakes races whose winners receive free berths and fees paid into a corresponding race of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, which will be held, for the first time, at the Del Mar race track near San Diego, California, on Nov. 3-4.

As a part of the benefits of the Challenge series, the Breeders’ Cup will pay the entry fees for Satono Crown to start in the 1½-mile Longines Turf.  Breeders’ Cup will also provide a $40,000 travel allowance for all starters based outside of North America to compete in the World Championships.

Satono Crown is the third horse this season to qualify for the $4 million Longines Breeders' Cup Turf at Del Mar.
Satono Crown won Sunday’s 1 3/8-mile, $2.86 million Takarazuka Kinen (G1) by three-quarters-of-a length over Gold Actor at Hanshin Racecourse. Japan Racing Association photo

Satono Crown is the third horse to qualify for Longines Turf thus far in 2017.  The 8-year-old Ordak Dan (ARG) was the first to qualify when he won the Gran Premio 25 de Mayo (G1) at San Isidro in Buenos Aires on May 25. The 3-year-old Voador Magee (BRZ) earned a Turf bid by capturing the Grande Premio Brasil (G1) at Hipodromo Gavea in Rio de Janeiro on June 11.

Today’s win was the second major upset in the last year for Satono Crown, a dark bay or brown son of Marju (IRE), trained by Noriyuki Hori. In December, Satono Crown defeated Highland Reel (IRE), the 2016 Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf champion and last Wednesday’s Prince of Wales’s Stakes (G1) winner, in the Longines Hong Kong Vase (G1) at Sha Tin.

In the 58th Takarazuka Kinen before a crowd of 53,746, Satono Crown (9-1 third choice) broke smoothly from the outermost draw of the course, which was somewhat soft due to the rain that stopped before the race, and traveled wide in midfield, around eighth from the front, while eyeing Kitasan Black racing in front of him. Rounding the last two corners right behind the race favorite, Satono Crown accelerated powerfully in the homestretch, easily overtaking the frontrunners, and dueled strongly with Gold Actor (JPN), who surged out from the inside route. Satono Crown, however, further accelerated before the wire to pull away for his second G1 win.

“We were able to race well while eyeing the strong Kitasan Black. He felt really good turning the fourth corner and exerted a remarkable kick in the straight,” said jockey Mirco Demuro. “He’s really a G1 horse. I think this type of ground suits him. I always had confidence in him.”

Satono Crown, who finished sixth in last year’s race, completed the 1 3/8 miles in 2:11.04 over a course listed as good. Bred by Northern Farm, Satono Crown has now won six of 13 lifetime starts. In his first race of 2017, Satono Crown won the 1 3/8-mile Kyoto Kinen (G2) at Kyoto Racecourse on Feb. 12. In his next start before the Takarazuka Kinen, he finished sixth in the Osaka Hi (G1) at Hanshin on April 2.

Former Japanese Oaks (G1) winner and fourth pick Mikki Queen (JPN), the only mare in the Takarazuka Kinen field, settled third from the rear and, though briefly caught between horses at the top of the stretch, produced remarkable speed in the stretch in pursuit of the top two finishers to seize third place.

Kitasan Black raced in good striking position but failed to respond in the stretch to finish a disappointing ninth.

“It didn’t rain much so it didn’t have much influence on the ground,” said jockey Yutaka Take. “He was in good form and there was no disadvantage either. He just didn’t respond as he usually does. To be honest, I really don’t know why.”

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