• Kyodo


Jockey Yasunari Iwata saw his patience pay off in driving rain as third pick Admire Moon edged Meisho Samson with a strong homestretch run to win the Takarazuka Kinen on Sunday.

Iwata kept Admire Moon in the middle of the pack before the 4-year-old colt surged into contention coming out of the final corner and went on to win the duel with Meisho Samson for a half-length victory at Hanshin Racecourse.

The winning time was 2 minutes, 12.4 seconds in the 2,200-meter race. Pop Rock finished third, two lengths further back, while top favorite and Japanese Derby winner Vodka slumped to eighth.

“I had him cruise along trying to save some energy in the first half of the race, believing in the strength of this horse, who tends to slow down quickly when he hits the front early,” Iwata said.

Iwata claimed his first Grade One title since becoming a Japan Racing Association jockey in a shift from a regional racing circle in Hyogo Prefecture. Trainer Hiroyoshi Matsuda also earned his first Takarazuka Kinen crown.

Admire Moon paid out 670 yen on a 100-yen wager with his victory over the rest of the field of 18 horses, who were selected through fan balloting.

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