No. 1 pick Espoir City stormed to victory in the final stretch in the February Stakes on Sunday, the first Grade One race of the year in Japanese horse racing.
The 5-year-old Espoir City crossed the finish line in 1 minute, 34.9 seconds, beating runnerup Testa Matta by 2 1/2 lengths at Tokyo Racecourse. Defending champion Success Brocken was third a further 3 1/2 lengths back.
“All I can say is he is getting stronger. Once he got past the turf smoothly after the start, there were really no concerns. He was a different horse from last year. I look forward to trying to race him (in a Grade One race) overseas since he is getting stronger,” said jockey Tetsuzo Sato.