TOYOAKE, AICHI PREF. – Fine Needle earned his first Grade 1 win Sunday after a photo finish confirmed victory in the 48th running of the Takamatsunomiya Kinen.
Let’s Go Donki had the lead after the final turn at Chukyo Racecourse, but Fine Needle drove through the pack on a burst of speed to beat the third favorite by a nose in 1 minute, 8.5 seconds. Nac Venus finished third a half length back.
The five-year-old thoroughbred, ridden by jockey Yuga Kawada, earned his eighth win in 24 career starts and ¥110 million ($1.05 million) in prize money for the 1200-meter race, which doubles as the second leg of the Global Sprint Challenge.
“We had a good start and a smooth first half,” Kawada said. “I couldn’t tell (who had won) because we were on the outside (and Let’s Go Donki was on the inside).”
Eight-year-old Dance Director, ridden by JRA No. 3 Yutaka Take, finished fourth, while 2017 winner Seiun Kosei was sixth.
Race-favorite Red Falx, ridden by top-ranked JRA and world No. 2 jockey Mirco Demuro, finished eighth.