Red Falx Defends his Title in Sprinters Stakes

From Horse Racing in Japan

Top favorite Red Falx demonstrated an extraordinary closing kick and successfully defended his Sprinters Stakes title, becoming the third horse in history since Sakura Bakushin O (1992-93) and Lord Kanaloa (2012-13) to do so. After claiming the title last year, the Swept Overboard horse made his first overseas challenge in the Hong Kong Sprint where he was 12th, and was sent off as race favorite in his first seasonal start, the Takamatsunomiya Kinen, in which he finished third. Testing his strength over longer distances proved fruitful as he immediately claimed the 1,400m G2 Keio Hai Spring Cup and turned in a good third in the G1 mile race, the Yasuda Kinen. For trainer Tomohito Ozeki, this is his second JRA-G1 title following last year’s victory, while jockey Mirco Demuro, who has guided Red Falx in his last seven starts, celebrates his 21st title, his latest on board Satono Crown in this year’s Takarazuka Kinen.

The field broke with Once in a Moon taking the lead and Diana Halo in second while Red Falx was unhurried sitting way off the pace in mid-division outside Let’s Go Donki making the initial turn. With still a significant amount of ground to cover at the top of the straight, the defending champion squeezed through a gap between Fine Needle and Nero at the furlong pole, unleashed a monstrous stretch drive down the middle of the lane, sweeping past his rivals before finally pinning Let’s Go Donki just before the wire for a neck win.

Five-year-old mare Let’s Go Donki took an economic route, sitting in mid-field before gaining ground while climbing the stretch hill on the rails, finally tagging Once in a Moon 50 meters out to briefly notch the lead, but was immediately caught by the fast-closing winner to finish second.

Red Falx wins Japan’s 2017 Sprinters Stakes © Naoji Inada

Seventh favorite Once in a Moon sprinted well to take the front early, maintaining a two-length lead all the way to the furlong marker but grudgingly gave way in the final 50 meters first to Let’s Go Donki and then Red Falx in the final strides for third.

Blizzard was pinched back soon after the break, regained his balance, advanced to mid-division between horses and back into rhythm approaching the last turn. He was unable to keep with the pace of the winner passing on his outside but held well for fifth.

“The horse jumped a little bit slow, and straight away I got pressured so I needed to check. I gave him a chance to make sure he finds his balance and once I put him back in the race I had a lovely run. Traveling well between horses in the first half, really picked up well but then as the others really quickened at the last corner, I had to give him pressure to be there, then he picked up,” commented Gerald Mosse.

“He stayed on strongly but the winner was too good—there was no way we could beat him today. He’s a horse that always tries his best to please you and give a good run,” said trainer Poon-fai Yiu.

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