Epiphaneia takes Kikka-sho honors

Kyodo

Third time was the charm for Epiphaneia as the favorite won the Kikka-sho to snatch the last jewel of the Japanese triple crown on Sunday.

Back in the spring, the Yuichi Fukunaga-ridden colt was a narrow runnerup in the first two triple crown races — the Satsuki-sho and the Japanese Derby — but crushed the field on this cloudy afternoon, storming to victory by a whopping five lengths ahead of fifth choice Satono Noblesse. The Irish-bred Bande came in third.

Despite yielding turf conditions at Kyoto Racecourse, Epiphaneia, trained by Dubai World Cup and Melbourne Cup winner Katsuhiko Sumii, clocked an impressive 3 minutes, 5.2 seconds over the 3,000 meters to finally reach the Grade 1 winner’s circle.

It was Fukunaga’s first victory in a male Classic race.

“He ran a perfect race,” Fukunaga said. “He was so calm prior to the start that I was worried he might not leave the gate on time. But he started well, and we knew which two horses were going to set the pace so all I had to do was focus on settling him.”