KYOTO - Toho Jackal won the last race of the Japanese Triple Crown in astounding fashion with a record-breaking victory in the Kikka-sho on Sunday.
Third choice Toho Jackal took 1.7 seconds off the previous race record held by Song of Wind, clocking 3 minute, 1.0 seconds over 3,000 meters on firm going at Kyoto Racecourse. It was Toho Jackal’s first graded win in seven career starts.
Second place went to fourth pick Sounds of Earth half a length behind, with Gold Actor a distant third, fourth lengths back of the Manabu Sakai-ridden Toho Jackal.
Favorite and Japanese Derby winner One and Only was never in it, finishing ninth in a maximum field of 18.
“I just want to give Jackal a huge pat on the back,” Sakai said of his Special Week colt, who left from the No. 2 post. “We drew a great barrier so I had to make sure we made the most out of it.
“He was patient during the trip and when we turned for home, he was able to give it everything he had.”
With long-shot Sun Grass in front for most of the way, the Kiyoshi Tani-trained Toho Jackal, out of the Unbridled Song mare Toho Gaia, traveled on the inside slightly off the pace, waiting to strike.
As Sun Grass started to fade on the next to last turn, Sakai made his move and Toho Jackal pulled away from the rest of the pack on the straight, with Sounds of Earth gaining fast to his inside.
But Sakai’s mount held on for what turned out to be a win for the ages, a mark that will unlikely be rewritten for years to come.
“I wanted to be in front of the favorites going into the stretch,” said Sakai, who won his first Classic race. “The record is the cherry on top of the cake; it underlines just how talented Toho Jackal is.”