FUNABASHI – Jockey Ryan Moore captured his second Grade 1 title of the fall as Asia Express won its turf debut in the Asahihai Futurity Stakes on Sunday.
Asia Express had made his first two starts on dirt, but the Henny Hughes son made a seamless transition to grass with a strong stretch run at Nakayama Racecourse for a 1 minute, 34.7 second victory over 1,600 meters on firm going.
Fourth favorite Asia Express, now a perfect 3-for-3 in his blossoming career, is the first horse in Japanese racing history to win at the top level in its maiden race on turf.
“He surprised me he quickened so well,” said Moore, who also won last month’s Japan Cup aboard Gentildonna. “When I rode him the time before, I felt he had a lot of gears but I used him too early.
“He’s a special horse; not many can do that on grass. He may prove even better than on dirt. He’s a horse who hasn’t hit the bottom yet and there’s more to come so it’ll be interesting to see how much he improves.
“He can probably do both dirt and grass.”
Finishing second a length and a quarter back was sixth choice Shonan Achieve. Fifth pick Win Full Bloom was third a further neck behind.
Favorite Atom just managed to reach the board by finishing fifth.
Asia Express, out of the Running Stag mare Running Bobcats, picked up the winner’s check of ¥70 million. Moore won the race for his first time, trainer Takahisa Tezuka his second.
“I’m thrilled because he had been fantastic on dirt,” Tezuka said of his colt, who won his first two races by five and seven lengths, respectively. “I knew he had a high ceiling and was convinced he could run on grass.”