Kitasan Black reinforces Arc claims in Tenno Sho
Report: Japan, Sunday
Kyoto: Tenno Sho (Spring) (Grade 1) 2m | turf | 4yo+
Talk of the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe was in the air after Japan Cup winner Kitasan Black (Hisashi Shimizu/Yutaka Take) added to his laurels by completing back-to-back successes in the Tenno Sho - and he captured the 291 million yen (about £2m) highlight in course record time.
Having scored by only a nose to take the spring edition of the 'Emperor's Cup' in 2016, it was all a bit easier this time for the reigning Japanese horse of the year.
The five-year-old held on by a length and a quarter from Cheval Grand, with Arima Kinen victor Satono Diamond also finishing strongly a neck further away in third.
Both the winner and the third are set to travel to Europe in a bid to break the Japanese hoodoo in the Qatar-sponsored Arc.
Winning jockey Yutaka Take said: "It was a really tough race – the pace never slowed down. Although the horse had little left, he showed amazing stamina and tenacity up to the end which only he can do. This horse is just so much stronger than he was a year ago - I never believed Deep Impact's track record would be broken."
Sent off 6-5 favourite, Kitasan Black sat at the head of the main body of the field, about ten lengths adrift of runaway leader, the 130-1 shot Yamakatzu Raiden, who was overwhelmed as they turned into the final straight.
Kitasan Black got first run to an extent and put a break on the remainder of the 17-runner field, and his pursuers down the middle of the track were never going to catch him.
Take added: "The owner told to me that now we have to think about our plan for the autumn and the Arc."
Also in Japan
Tokyo (Saturday): Aoba Sho (Japanese Derby Trial) (Grade 2) 1m4f | turf | 3yo
Japan's premier Derby trial went to the 1-2 favourite Admirable (Hidetaka Otonashi/Mirco Demuro), a son of the great Deep Impact who overcame a slow break to score by two and a half lengths after overhauling his rivals in the home straight.
“He's still immature but he's a very good horse and he'll be stronger still on Derby day,” said Mirco Demuro.