• Kyodo

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Last year’s Japanese Triple Crown winner, Contrail, won the 41st running of the Grade 1 Japan Cup, an invitational gala for horses aged 3 years and older, on the final start of his career on Sunday.

With jockey Yuichi Fukunaga aboard, Contrail made one big late sprint down the middle of the 2,400 meters over turf at Tokyo Racecourse in the event featuring three overseas challengers and offering a prize pool of ¥648 million ($5.7 million).

Contrail finished in 2 minutes, 24.7 seconds, winning by two lengths over second-place Authority. Shahryar was a further 1½ lengths back in third.

“It makes me emotional to think that it’s his last day. He ran a superb race and I’m moved. It was most important for me to send him off to his second career (as a stud horse) on a high note. He was perfect,” said a teary-eyed Fukunaga.

“He became a Triple Crown winner during the coronavirus pandemic. His presence was a ray of light in a dark world,” he said.

Contrail, a 4-year-old colt by the late Deep Impact, had been winless since winning the Kikka-sho to become Japanese racing’s third undefeated Triple Crown winner in October 2020. He retires as a winner of eight races, five of those Grade 1 events.

Contrail, Shahryar, Makahiki and Wagnerian — four winners of the Tokyo Yushun who were all sired by Deep Impact — competed in the race.

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