Strong Return holds off challenger


Strong Return lived up to his name as last year’s runnerup edged long-shot Grand Prix Boss by a neck to win a wild Yasuda Kinen in a 1,600-meter Japan record on Sunday.

Strong Return, the second choice ridden by Yuichi Fukunaga, took care of unfinished business from a year ago to cut a winning time of 1 minute, 31.3 seconds, taking one-tenth of a second off the previous record held by Danon Chantilly.

Trainer Noriyuki Hori won the race for the second straight year, while Fukunaga won it for his first time.

“He just ran really well,” Fukunaga said. “He was perfect.”

The 6-year-old horse came from behind on the half-kilometer straight at Tokyo Racecourse to snatch victory away from 13th pick Grand Prix Boss, trained by Yoshito Yahagi, who won the Japanese Derby last week with Deep Brillante.

Checking in third another two lengths back was 15th favorite Cosmo Sensor, who helped produce a trifecta payout of ¥468,600 to the minimum ¥100 wager.

No. 1 pick Sadamu Patek, ridden by the red-hot Craig Williams, disappointed in ninth.