OSAKA (Kyodo) Jo Cappuccino was the early favorite for Sunday’s Takamatsunomiya Kinen, the first Grade 1 race on the Japan Racing Association calendar.

Through Saturday’s betting, the 5-year-old Jo Cappuccino, who is chasing his first Grade 1 title, was narrowly ahead of 4-year-old Dasher Go Go followed by defending champion Kinshasa No Kiseki with Italian Umberto Rispoli up.

In one of the closest fields in years, the Takamatsunomiya Kinen will be run at Hanshin Racecourse in Hyogo Prefecture this year. Usually held at Chukyo in Aichi Prefecture, the race was moved out west as a precautionary measure following the March 11 earthquake in eastern Japan.

The Shadai syndicate-owned San Carlo was the fourth pick, while last year’s Mile Championship winner A Shin Forward was favored sixth in what will be his first start since the Hong Kong Mile in December.

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