FUNABASHI, Chiba Pref. – Captain Thule cruised to a comfortable victory to give jockey Yuga Kawada his first Grade One title on Sunday at the Satsuki-sho, the first leg of the prestigious Triple Crown classics in Japan.
The seventh favorite established an early lead at Nakayama Racecourse and pulled away down the inside lane after coming round the final bend before crossing the line two-and-a-half lengths ahead of Take Mikazuchi.
Captain Thule, whose victory was worth ¥97 million in prize money, covered the 2,000-meter turf track in 2 minutes, 1.7 seconds. Take Mikazuchi edged out top pick Meiner Charles for second place.
“I couldn’t find any horses that I thought would streak away from the pack so I decided to try and get in front early and go all out for it,” said Kawada.
“Coming down the homestretch I couldn’t hear any galloping behind me and that’s when I thought to myself ‘yes, this is it,”‘ said Kawada.
Captain Thule returned ¥1,710 on a ¥100 bet.
Joe Calzaghe leaped onto the unfamiliar ropes with more hope than confidence, punching his fists skyward but also looking over his shoulder at the judges’ table.
The Pride of Wales had just finished a messy, difficult American debut against Bernard Hopkins, the 43-year-old master who excels at making younger foes look foolish. Calzaghe couldn’t be sure he had done enough to win — until the final judge’s scorecard hailed him as the best light heavyweight in the world.
Calzaghe kept his unbeaten record intact with a split-decision victory Saturday night, tenaciously rallying in the final rounds to end his first Vegas show with a flourish.
“I knew this wouldn’t look pretty tonight,” Calzaghe said.