Gran Alegria Dominates Victoria Mile in Japan and Gains Automatic Berth into Maker's Mark Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf
Edited article from Japan Racing Association
TOKYO (May 16, 2021) ― Sunday Racing’s 5-year-old mare Gran Alegria (JPN) dominated Sunday’s 1-mile, US$2.1 million Victoria Mile (G1) on turf at Tokyo Racecourse, surging to the front in the final furlong to post a 4-length win over longshot Rambling Alley (JPN). With this victory, Gran Alegria earned an automatic starting position into the US$2 million Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) through the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series.
The Breeders’ Cup Challenge is an international series of stakes races whose winners receive automatic starting positions and fees paid into a corresponding race of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, which is scheduled to be held at Del Mar racetrack in Del Mar, California on Nov. 5-6.
Trained by Kazuo Fujisawa and ridden by Christophe Lemaire, Gran Alegria, a bay daughter of Deep Impact (JPN) out of the Tapit mare Tapitsfly, won her fifth career Group 1 race. The odds-on favorite in the 18-horse field, Gran Alegria completed the mile in 1:31 over a course listed as good to firm.
As part of the benefits of the Challenge Series, Breeders’ Cup will pay the entry fees for Gran Alegria to start in the Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf. Breeders’ Cup also will provide a minimum travel allowance of US$40,000 for all starters based outside of North America to compete in the World Championships.
Breaking from stall six, Gran Alegria settled in mid-division around 10th place from the front-runner Christie (JPN). Taking an outer route turning the corners, Gran Alegria made a bid from around the 400-meter pole and promptly took the lead over 7-1 second-choice Resistencia (JPN) 200 meters from the finish. Gran Alegria further accelerated with a powerful drive to the wire.
“She was very strong as we had all expected,” commented Lemaire, who won his 38th JRA Group 1 race and his 1,400th overall victory in Japan. “She’s not a very good starter so we settled in mid-division, but she raced in good rhythm. After I took her to the outside entering the lane, she showed a remarkable response and geared up on her own. She showed that she’s at a different level than her competitors and will probably win more G1 titles going forward.”
Tenth pick Rambling Alley hugged the rail in 11th eying Gran Alegria on the outside. The 5-year-old dark bay swung to the outside entering the lane and chased the race favorite persistently until the wire, nailing Magic Castle (JPN) in her last stride for a runner-up effort. Fifth choice Magic Castle saved ground, around ninth, inside Gran Alegria, met traffic at the top of the stretch but showed sustaining speed and passed the tenacious Resistencia 100 meters out. Although overtaken by fast-closing Rambling Alley just before the wire, Magic Castle held off the rest of the field to complete a 1-2-3 finish by filly and mares sired by Deep Impact.
Gran Alegria, the 2020 Best Sprinter or Miler in Japan, became the first horse to win all three of the JRA’s G1 mile titles for 4-year-olds and up, which included her Yasuda Kinen and Mile Championship titles last year. Her other two G1 victories were the 2019 Oka Sho (Japanese 1000 Guineas, 1,600m) and last year’s Sprinters Stakes (1,200m).
Now 8 of 12 lifetime, Gran Alegria, bred by Northern Farm, came into Sunday’s race off a fourth-place finish in the 1 ¼-mile Osaka Ha (G1) at Hanshin on April 4 over a yielding course.
Lemaire won his third Victoria Mile. He captured the 2017 race on Admire Lead (JPN) and aboard the brilliant champion Almond Eye (JPN) last year.
ABOUT BREEDERS’ CUP
The Breeders’ Cup administers the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, Thoroughbred horse racing’s year-end Championships, as well as the Breeders’ Cup Challenge qualifying series, which provides automatic starting positions into the Championships races. The Breeders’ Cup is also a founding member of the Thoroughbred Safety Coalition, an organization composed of industry leaders committed to advancing safety measures in Thoroughbred racing and improving the well-being of equine and human athletes.
The 2021 Breeders’ Cup World Championships, consisting of 14 Championship races, is scheduled to be held on November 5-6 at Del Mar racetrack in Del Mar, California. The event will be televised live by the NBC Sports Group. Breeders’ Cup press releases appear on the Breeders’ Cup website, breederscup.com. You can also follow the Breeders’ Cup on social media.
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