Meisho Doto claims Takarazuka

by Barbara Bayer

Meisho Doto at long last turned the tables on archrival T.M. Opera O as he staged a 1 1/4-length upset in Sunday’s Takarazuka Memorial.

Taking the lead shortly past the 200-meter mark in the 2,200-meter G1 race, second pick Meisho Doto successfully held off a spectacular challenge by race favorite T.M. Opera O, who had been severely checked by traffic in the final turn. Shaking free at the top of the stretch, T.M. Opera O swung wide and made a desperate bid for his eighth G1 win but was unable to make up for lost time.

Meisho Doto’s winning time of 2:11.7 was the second-fastest time in the Takarazuka yet. Finishing in third place by a nose was Hot Secret, with Stay Gold and Air Shakur following in fourth and fifth place, respectively. It was a long-anticipated, long-hoped-for victory for Meisho Doto. Race after frustrating race had seen the 5-year-old Irish-bred son of Bigstone finish a close second to T.M. Opera O. In the past year Meisho Doto lost five G1 bids to T.M. Opera O, finally tasting victory on his sixth try.

“I believed in him,” said jockey Yasuhiko Yasuda, his face flush with excitement, after the race. “Everything went to plan.” There were, however, a few moments down the stretch when Yasuda had doubts. “I was afraid we were going to be second once again,” he admitted.

The Takarazuka winner’s share was worth 132 million yen.