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Horse Racing

HORSE RACING | Titleholder Sets Pace, Controls Tempo En Route To Victory In The 82nd Kikuka Sho

Duramente’s offspring led from start to finish, giving jockey Takeshi Yokoyama his second career Grade 1 victory.

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Takeshi Yokoyama and Titleholder complete a wire-to-wire victory in the 82nd Kikuka Sho at Hanshin Racecourse on October 24.

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Titleholder led from start to finish in an exhilarating display of speed in the 82nd Kikuka Sho (Japanese St. Leger) at Hanshin Racecourse on Sunday, October 24.

Jockey Takeshi Yokoyama guided the Duramente-sired bay colt to victory in 3 minutes, 4.6 seconds to earn his second Japan Racing Association Grade I victory. Trainer Toru Kurita collected his fourth career G1 win and first since 2011.

Storming out of the gate from the No. 3 post position, Titleholder appeared to be in a hurry to get somewhere. He reached the 1,000-meter mark in 60 seconds, and didn’t let up over the final 2,000 meters of the 18-horse race in Takarazuka, Hyogo Prefecture, before an announced crowd of 4,798.

Titleholder won the race by five lengths over Orthoclase, who was guided by jockey Christophe Lemaire.

Yuichi Fukunaga rode Divine Love to a third-place finish, a head’s length behind Orthoclase. Hayato Yoshida, who was aboard Stella Veloce, just missed earning a top-three finish, taking fourth by the length of a nose.

Deep Monster, Yutaka Take’s mount, rounded out the top five.

Race favorite Red Genesis, steered by Yuga Kawada, was a non-factor and placed 13th.

Conversely, Yokoyama was thrilled with the outcome.

“We had a terrible race last time out so I was determined to win it this time and I’m glad it panned out,” the winning jockey told reporters. “I personally thought that the distance was maybe too much to ask from this colt, but he showed otherwise and performed well above my expectations so I’m ashamed for doubting him in any way.”

Titleholder’s no-doubt-about-it performance gave Duramente, a 2015 G1 double winner (Satsuki Sho and Tokyo Yushun), his first G1 victory as a sire.

As Yokoyama’s horse entered the final stretch, he stretched his modest lead with a burst of speed and extended the margin to five lengths by the finish. (Watch a replay of the race here.)

“As far as the race, I concentrated in keeping him comfortable in a long race like this — he’s an honest horse, in a way too honest and always gives his full effort — so knowing that once in front he would settle, I let him go as he liked and didn’t try to hold him back too much,” Yokoyama said. “He has a lot to look forward to in the future but it would require a little skill as a rider to conserve his energy depending on the situations.”

RELATED: Akaitorino Musume Triumphs In 26th Shuka Sho


Author:  Ed Odeven

Follow Ed on JAPAN Forward’s [Japan Sports Notebook] here on Sundays, in [Odds and Evens] here during the week, and Twitter @ed_odeven.

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Ed Odeven is a longtime sports journalist who previously worked for The Japan Times as its chief basketball reporter for nearly 14 years. He also covered a wide range of other sports for the newspaper, including at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and 2012 London Games. A graduate of Arizona State University, Odeven worked for several newspapers in the Grand Canyon State before moving to Japan. He has freelanced for dozens of media outlets around the world.