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Unbeaten Justin Milano Earns a Narrow Victory in the 84th Satsuki Sho

Justin Milano beat Cosmo Kuranda to the wire by a neck's length in the 2,000-meter Satsuki Sho to win the first leg of the Japanese Triple Crown.



Satsuki Sho
Justin Milano, guided by Keita Tosaki, edges Cosmo Kuranda in the Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas) on April 14, 2024, at Nakayama Racecourse in Funabashi, Chiba Prefecture. (KYODO)

Second favorite Justin Milano claimed the first leg of the Japanese Triple Crown, winning the Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas) in a race-record time of 1 minute, 57.1 seconds on Sunday, April 14.

At Nakayama Racecourse, Justin Milano rewrote the course record by 0.7 seconds and beat runner-up Cosmo Kuranda (Brazilian Joao Moreira's ride) by a neck's length.

Justin Milano remains unbeaten in three career starts. He is the second colt to win the race in his third career start, matching the feat of the 2023 winner, Sol Oriens.

The Kizuna progeny won his debut race (Tokyo, 2,000 meters) in November 2023 and captured his first graded title in the Kyodo News Hai (G3, 1,800 meters) on February 11 under Keita Tosaki.

Satsuki Sho
Winning trainer Yasuo Tomomichi embraces jockey Keita Tosaki after the race. (©SANKEI)

Sunday's win in Funabashi, Chiba Prefecture, was trainer Yasuo Tomomichi's 19th Japan Racing Association Grade 1 title following the Arima Kinen with Do Deuce in December 2023. It was his second Satsuki Sho title, having previously won the race in 2009 with Unrivaled.

Tosaki collected his 12th career JRA G1 win ― and first since the Yasuda Kinen with Songline in June 2023. In addition, it was Tosaki's second Satsuki Sho victory. He won it for the first time in 2018 with Epoca d'Oro.

Satsuki Sho
Jantar Mantar (8), Justin Milano (13) and Cosmo Kuranda vie for victory in the 84th Satsuki Sho. (©SANKEI)

Securing Victory in the Satsuki Sho

Quick out of the gate, Justin Milano rushed out of stall 13 to settle fifth behind frontrunner Meisho Tabaru (Suguru Hamanaka), who set an extremely fast pace.

The son of Kizuna shifted slightly to the outside rounding the final corners and surged out behind Jantar Mantar (Yuga Kawada) after entering the lane. Justin Milano unleashed an explosive turn of speed to overtake the dark bay in the last two strides and cross the wire a neck in front. (Watch the race on the JRA's YouTube channel.)

Satsuki Sho
Winning jockey Keita Tosaki (KYODO)

Tosaki Analyzes the Race

"Given the condition of the track, I thought that it would be better to race toward the front," Tosaki said. "He broke well and we were able to settle in that position naturally. The pace was fast, but Justin Milano ran in his own rhythm."

According to the winning jockey, Justin Milano's response "weakened a bit at the third corner, but he regained his focus after the fourth corner and stretched well to win the race."

Tosaki added, "He's a smart horse with a lot of potential, he's easy to ride, and I think he can handle the longer distance."

After the race, Tosaki also spoke about the late jockey Kota Fujioka, who died on Wednesday, April 10, four days after sustaining head and chest injuries while competing at Hanshin Racecourse.

"Going into the race, I was told the horse was in really good condition," the 43-year-old Tosaki said. "Kota Fujioka had ridden him for consecutive weeks heading into this race, and he gave me very detailed information on the horse when we met at Hanshin last week.

"The difference between the top two finishers today [was a neck], and I think Kota was watching from above and pushed my back in the final stretches of the race. I'm just grateful for the win today."

Satsuki Sho
The 84th running of the Satsuki Sho at Nakayama Racecourse. (©SANKEI)

Falling Short In Pursuit of Victory

Seventh pick Cosmo Kuranda saved ground around 10th, angled out turning the last two corners, and launched the fourth-fastest late drive to join the rally for the lead. He overtook Jantar Mantar before the wire but failed to catch Justin Milano to finish second.

Breaking sharply, third choice Jantar Mantar eased back to third after rallying for the lead and closed in on the leader in the final corners. He inherited the lead at the top of the stretch and sustained the bid. But he weakened in the final strides and was overtaken by the eventual winner and then the runner-up before the wire.

Urban Chic (Takeshi Yokoyama) and Shin Emperor (Ryusei Sakai) finished fourth and fifth, respectively.

Race favorite Regaleira (Hiroshi Kitamura) made a spirited late rally, coming from near the rear of the pack, around 14th. And although the filly turned in the fastest speed over the last three furlongs (33.9 seconds), she was too far back to threaten the leaders and finished sixth.


Up Next on the JRA G1 Calendar

The Tenno Sho (Spring) is scheduled for April 28 at Kyoto Racecourse.

Read the full report with details on each of the Satsuki Sho entrants on JRA News.


Author: JRA News