KYOTO - Fenomeno finally came of age as the second choice sunk favorite Gold Ship to win the spring Tenno-sho for his first Grade 1 title on Sunday.
The 4-year-old Fenomeno, who narrowly missed out on glory last year as runnerup in both the Japanese Derby and the fall Tenno-sho, lifted the coveted Emperor’s Cup after finishing 1¼ lengths in front of third pick Tosen Ra ridden by the race’s six-time winner Yutaka Take.
Dubai World Cup runnerup and Hong Kong Vase champion Red Cadeaux of Britain took third in the 3,200-meter challenge on firm going at Kyoto Racecourse, where Fenomeno cut a winning time of 3 minutes, 14.2 seconds — 0.8 seconds off the race record held by Deep Impact.
Gold Ship, the winner of the Arima Kinen and two triple crown races as a 3-year-old last season, faded on the final straight to end up fifth.
“I just wanted to get into a good position during the trip, which I managed to do,” said Fenomeno’s jockey Masayoshi Ebina, who won the race for his second time.
“He had a good first lap which I thought was key. I wasn’t sure what the pace was like; all I was thinking about was keeping the horse in a good rhythm.”
“I was expecting (Gold Ship) to come and get us at some point but I wasn’t worrying about it. If he passes us, he passes us. My job was to get the most out of my horse.”