FUNABASHI, Chiba Pref. — The Satsukisho, Japan’s equivalent of the 2,000 Guineas, the Triple Crown’s first leg, went off without a hitch Sunday as more than 85,000 fans made their way to Nakayama Racecourse, lured in large part by the rise of a new star.

News photoDeep Impact and jockey Yutaka Take (14) finish in first place to win the Satsukisho on Sunday at Nakayama Racecourse in Chiba Prefecture.

That star, the unbeaten Deep Impact, answered the support — and rock-bottom odds — with an impressive win, as he cruised over the wire 2 1/2 lengths ahead of the rest of the field. Longshot Six Sense finished in second place.

The Sunday Silence-sired Deep Impact made winning look easy despite a stumbling start that sent him lurching sideways. Ace jockey Yutaka Take remained unshaken, however, keeping his mount to the rear of the classic lineup until the backstretch. Halfway down the far straight, Take began to inch Deep Impact forward, their every move accompanied by a roar from the stands as all eyes stalked the favorite.

Just before the final bend, with Take and Deep Impact on an outside course, Take let fly with a slap of the whip.

“He seemed to be losing interest and I needed to shake him up,” Take said later.

Deep Impact responded by shooting forward and lept into the lead with 200 meters to go. From there it was clear sailing, as the colt crossed the finish line without a hint of a challenge. His winning time over the 2,000 meters of fast turf was 1 minute, 59.2 seconds.

Third choice Admire Japan, whose refusal to load, Take said, had unsettled Deep Impact in the gate, finished third, with second pick Meiner Recolte in fourth place.

The Northern Farm-bred Deep Impact, owned by Masato Kaneko and trained by Yasuo Ikee, is now four for four. The win was worth 97 million yen.

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