KYOTO - Shonan Pandora heisted the last jewel in the Japanese filly’s triple crown from heavy favorite Nuovo Record with victory in the Shuka-sho on Sunday.
Third choice Shonan Pandora edged Japanese Oaks winner Nuovo Record by a neck, cutting a winning time of 1 minute, 57.0 seconds on firm going at Kyoto Racecourse.
Fourth pick Tagano Etoile took third another length and a quarter back. Second choice Red Reveur finished sixth in a field reduced to 17 runners after Pacific Gal became a last-minute scratch.
It was the first career graded win in nine starts for the Tomokazu Takano-trained and Deep Impact-sired Shonan Pandora, who did not run in the spring Classic races.
“We got off to a very smooth start and I couldn’t have asked for a better position during the trip,” Shonan Pandora’s jockey Suguru Hamanaka said.
“We were able to turn for home without hitting a single bump. The turf on the inside was clearly faster so I was set on taking that route.”
The Yasunari Iwata-ridden Nuovo Record, who also placed third behind Harp Star in the first race of the series, the Oka-sho, went off as the overwhelming favorite after comfortably winning the Sept. 21 Rose Stakes to kick off her autumn campaign.
But Nuovo Record was slow to break and ended up traveling deep in midfield on the tight Kyoto oval, which forced Iwata to navigate through traffic as Shonan Pandora found a free lane on the homestretch.
Nuovo Record fought back hard from the outside but with too much ground to make up, Shonan Pandora, out of the French Deputy dam Cutie Gold, held on for the ¥89 million victory.
“We’ve always thought the world of her, but she matured a lot both mentally and physically over the summer,” said Hamanaka, the leading jockey in Japan two seasons ago. “You can notice it right away in the workouts, in the races.
“She’s a G1 winner now so I hope she keeps racing well and lives up to that title from here on.”