• Kyodo


Cheval Grand overtook race favorite Kitasan Black in a final dash to win the 37th running of the Japan Cup on Sunday at Tokyo Racecourse.

Kitasan Black, coming out of the fourth stall, maintained a clear lead for most of the 2,400-meter run but was overtaken in the home stretch when Cheval Grand, ridden by Australian Hugh Bowman, climbed away from his first stall position in a sudden burst to victory. He finished in 2 minutes, 23.7 seconds to secure the ¥300 million first prize.

“I was aided by a good draw and traveled very well throughout the race,” Bowman said. “My plan was to try to follow Kitasan Black into the straight — which I was able to do — and then the horse did the rest.”

Cheval Grand is owned by former major league baseball player Kazuhiro Sasaki, who was a relief pitcher with the Seattle Mariners and the Yokohama BayStars.

Second-pick Rey de Oro (2:23.9) finished as expected, drafting behind Cheval Grand and edging Kitasan Black (2:23.9) into third by a neck.

Jockey Yutaka Take was looking for another Grade One win with Kitasan Black after taking the autumn Tenno-sho double earlier this year, but was unable to power through.

“I have so much respect for Kitasan Black, but Cheval Grand traveled very smoothly and when I asked him to quicken, he did it comfortably,” Bowman said. “As I approached Kitasan Black, I could sense that he had no gas left and my horse had lots of power.”

Sunday’s race offers redemption for Cheval Grand in his first G1 victory, after a disappointing second place finish at the spring Tenno-sho, where he narrowly lost to Kitasan Black.

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