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Race favorite Admire Don rose to the challenge of the year’s first top-level race and, in form befitting the dirt champion of 2003, turned in a satisfying half-length win of the February Stakes on Sunday in Tokyo.

“He was a different horse from the Japan Cup Dirt,” jockey Katsumi Ando said of his impression after first mounting the 5-year-old Admire Don Sunday.

Silent Deal stole second place in the race’s final moments, with Sterling Rose finishing third.

Admire Don’s winning time over 1,600 meters of dirt was 1 minute, 36.8 seconds and was worth 94 million yen.

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