• Kyodo

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Kitasan Black became just the fourth horse to defend the spring Tenno-sho title, while breaking Deep Impact’s 11-year record time to win the Emperor’s Cup on Sunday.

First choice Kitasan Black showed his class as reigning horse of the year on a sunny afternoon at Kyoto Racecourse, tearing through the 3,200 meters in 3 minutes, 12.5 seconds to shave 0.9 seconds off the previous record held by the legendary Deep Impact.

The 5-year-old Kitasan Black won his second Grade 1 title of the season following the Osaka-hai on April 3, the newest G1 race on the Japan Racing Association calendar.

Sunday’s victory was Kitasan Black’s fifth G1 win. Jockey Yutaka Take, who steered Deep Impact to the old record in 2006, won the spring Tenno-sho for a phenomenal eighth time.

“I didn’t slow the pace because I thought if any horse could withstand it, it was him,” Take said. “I was confident he could hold on. It was a tough race for everyone.

“I never thought it’d be broken,” Take said of Deep Impact’s record. “(Kitasan Black) broke it by a lot; it’s an outstanding time. He’s stronger than he was last season.”

Taking second was fourth-pick Cheval Grand, 1¼ lengths out. Second favorite Satono Diamond, who beat Kitasan Black in last year’s Arima Kinen, was third.

Yamakatsu Raiden set a blistering pace for most of the two laps before Kitasan Black took over going into the final bend and never looked back. Kitasan Black, by Black Tide out of Sugar Heart, took his earnings to more than ¥1.34 billion and will now eye the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in the fall.

“I’m glad I was able to come through,” Take said. “We got off to a good start. I was prepared to take the lead if I had to. I didn’t want to wait too long to make my move. He was maxed out in the end and I could feel the others gaining so it was tough.

“This horse has an obligation to his fans to win. The Arima Kinen was frustrating so I’m glad we were able to win today. The owner said we’re going to have to think about our plans in the fall. I hope everyone will be excited.”

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