Five straight Sundays of top-level races at Tokyo Racecourse got off to an upset of a start with dark horse Jo Cappuccino topping the Mother’s Day field of 18 youngsters in the 14th running of the NHK Mile Cup, a race restricted to 3-year-olds.
Jo Cappuccino, the race 10th choice, crossed the wire 2 lengths ahead of fifth-pick Red Spada in a win that looked far too easy for a horse that had drawn little attention at the betting windows.
Following a clean start by all but Mikki Pumpkin, Get Full Marks took a wide lead, followed by Jo Cappuccino and Red Spada at the head of the pack in second and third position. Into the first bend, Jo Cappuccino gained ground, widening his lead on Red Spada.
“I was glad to see him break away from the others at that point,” said winning trainer Kazuya Nakatake afterward.
A difficult horse to find his rhythm, Nakatake said this had been his main concern Sunday, in the colt’s first mile at Tokyo.
On the summerlike afternoon at Fuchu, Jo Cappuccino and 20-year-old rider Kota Fujioka presented a tastefully smooth blend as they rounded into the straight, whereupon front-runner Get Full Marks gradually faded.
Jo Cappuccino was left to power unthreatened down the long Tokyo stretch for the win, clocked at 1 minute 32.4 seconds over the 1,600 meters of fast turf.
Longshot Grand Prix Angel finished in third place, with another dark horse, Meiner Elf, in fourth. Race favorite Break Run Out was a wash in ninth, likewise second choice Iron Look in eighth place.
It was the first win of the NHK Mile for both rider and trainer, the first win of a group 1 race period for Fujioka.
Jo Cappuccino, by Manhattan Cafe, out of the Fusaichi Concorde mare Jo Bouquet, was breeder Akihiko Nemoto’s first horse born on his Happy Nemo Farm in Hokkaido’s Urawa.