• Kyodo

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Race-favorite Contrail beat third-pick Salios at the wire in the 80th running of the Satsuki-sho on Sunday to capture the first leg of this year's Japanese triple crown and remain undefeated in four career starts.

Steered by Yuichi Fukunaga, Contrail conserved his energy in the rear and blasted around the pack after the third turn at Nakayama Racecourse, with Salios giving a spirited chase in the final stretch of the 2,000-meter turf event for 3-year-olds.

Contrail crossed first in 2 minutes, 0.7 seconds to claim his second Grade 1 victory and become the 18th unbeaten horse in Satsuki-sho history to win the Japanese equivalent of the 2,000 Guineas Stakes. The colt, sired by Deep Impact, also prevailed at December's Hopeful Stakes.

Salios, who had also entered the race unbeaten, finished a half-length behind with Damian Lane aboard. Eighth-pick Galore Creek, ridden by visiting jockey Lyle Hewitson of South Africa, took third in 2:01.4.

Christophe Lemaire rode second-favorite Satono Flag, also sired by Deep Impact, to a fifth-place finish.

The Satsuki-sho record was set in 2017 by Al Ain with a time of 1:57.8. The next leg of the triple crown is the Japanese Derby in late May, followed by October's Kikka-sho.

The Japan Racing Association has been holding its races without spectators since the end of February due to the coronavirus outbreak.

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