Daiwa Major beat the jinx and the field Sunday at Tokyo Racecourse as he nudged out Kongo Rikishi O by a neck for the win at the Yasuda Memorial’s 57th running.
The 6-year-old Daiwa Major became the first Sunday Silence progeny to win the Yasuda, one of only three top-level races from Japan’s 20 that offspring of the late American champion, keystone of recent Japanese racing, have failed to capture.
Silence ruled postrace among the foreign press as well, with Japanese horses sweeping the top six spots and laying waste to the hype surrounding the four runners from Hong Kong. Good Ba Ba turned in the best result for Hong Kong in seventh place, with Joyful Winner in ninth, Able One in 12th and The Duke in 15th place. Japan’s Jolly Dance and Admire Kiss followed Kongo Rikishi O over the line in third and fourth, respectively.
Winning jockey Katsumi Ando made good following his crushing loss last week in the Derby aboard the favorite.
“It’s a relief,” Ando said of the Yasuda win. Daiwa Major, who picked off three consecutive grade I races last year, was back on the track for the first time in two months after returning from a third-place finish in Dubai. “He was in good shape and I wasn’t worried,” claimed Ando, “but I was a little concerned about the inside draw.”
Daiwa Major broke handily from the No. 2 gate and stayed just off the rail in fourth position, as Kongo Rikishi O led the field of 18 over the first 1,600 meters at a slow pace.
“I didn’t want to take the lead too soon,” Ando explained.
The 47-year-old veteran looked for an opening just before the top of the stretch slope and moved out and forward with 400 meters to go. With only the front-running Kongo Rikishi O ahead, Ando moved Daiwa Major over to run side by side and the race was his.
“He’s incredibly competitive when he goes neck and neck,” Ando said. “I knew we’d have it if we could line up.”
The Hiroyuki Uehara-trained Daiwa Major was bred in Hokkaido at Shadai Farm. The chestnut out of Scarlet Bouquet is owned by Keizo Oshiro and is now 8 for 23, with close to 897 million yen in earnings. Winning time was 1 minute 32.3 seconds. Daiwa Major returned 440 yen on a 100 yen wager. The trifecta 2-5-18 returned 63,140 yen.
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