Transcend snares first title of year

Kyodo News

Japan Cup Dirt winner Transcend kicked off the Grade 1 season with victory in the February Stakes on Sunday at Tokyo Racecourse.

The 5-year-old Transcend, who is set to run in the Godolphin Mile at next month’s Dubai World Cup meet, finished 1 1/2 lengths ahead of third pick Furioso for his second Grade 1 win in his first start since the Dec. 5 Japan Cup Dirt.

Birdie Birdie took third a further neck behind before a crowd of 53,584 as Transcend led from wire to wire to net the first-place check of ¥94 million.

The Wild Rush son, ridden by Shinji Fujita and trained by Takayuki Yasuda, cut a winning time of 1 minute, 36.4 seconds over the 1,600 meters on dirt — 1.8 seconds off the race record set by Success Brocken in 2009.

“They were all over us from start to finish, but he toughed it out,” said Fujita, a first-time February Stakes winner. “He was the No. 1 pick and I felt like we had to win. I couldn’t let up until we crossed the line.”