Seventh choice Testa Matta left defending champion and red-hot favorite Transcend in the shade on Sunday to comfortably win the February Stakes, the opening Grade 1 race of the Japanese racing season.
The Yasunari Iwata-ridden Testa Matta accelerated on the outside to finish two lengths ahead of fourth pick Silk Fortune, posting a winning time of 1 minute, 35.4 seconds over the 1,600 meters. Second choice Wonder Acute took third.
Six-year-old Transcend, the Japan Racing Association’s dirt horse of the year in 2011 who was runnerup in the $10 million Dubai World Cup, turned out to be a huge disappointment as he started off slow and ended up seventh, his worst result since April 2010.
“He was poor,” said jockey Shinji Fujita, who had won five with four silvers in nine previous starts aboard Transcend. “I know the 1,600 meters may not be his best distance, but we need to come up with something before Dubai. It may be mental, but he wasn’t up for it at all today.”