• Kyodo

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Mirco Demuro won the February Stakes for the second straight year on Sunday, steering second choice Gold Dream to victory in the year’s first Grade 1 race on the Japanese calendar.

Gold Dream finished a neck in front of fifth favorite Best Warrior, cutting a time of 1 minute, 35.1 seconds in the 1,600-meter race at Tokyo Racecourse for his first career G1 win. The top pick, Kafuji Take, was third.

Demuro, who won the race last year aboard Moanin, said he was relieved to have come through after a disappointing 12th with the 4-year-old Gold Dream as the second favorite in the Champions Cup in December.

Sunday’s victory also turned out to be a fitting tribute to Gold Dream’s sire Gold Allure, who unexpectedly died of heart failure a day earlier.

Gold Allure, Japan’s dirthorse of the year in 2002, sired three different February Stakes winners including Gold Dream.

“I was very confident of his chances in the Champions Cup, but he got a little overexcited,” said Demuro, a 19-time G1 winner in Japan.

“He felt great today. He was calm positioned toward the front and was very relaxed in the gate. He was strong down the stretch even though we made our move a little early on the final turn.

“I’m just glad by the way the race turned out. He’s a brilliant racehorse, and I’m happy to have won it for the second straight year.”

It was trainer Osamu Hirata’s first February Stakes title. Gold Dream is 5-for-9 for his career with earnings of more than ¥199 million.

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