Gran Alegria Leads Sunday’s Yasuda Kinen in Japan for Automatic Berth into FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Mile
Photo courtesy of the Japan Racing Association
TOKYO (June 4, 2021) ― Sunday Racing Co.’s 5-year-old mare Gran Alegria (JPN), who captured the “Win and You’re In” Victoria Mile (G1) three weeks ago, will try to win her second consecutive Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series race this year on Sunday, June 6, as she defends her title against 13 runners in the 1-mile, US$2.68 million Yasuda Kinen (G1) on turf at Tokyo Racecourse. The Yasuda Kinen winner will receive an automatic berth and fees paid into the US$2 million FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1).
The Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series 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 will be held at the Del Mar racetrack in Del Mar, California, on Nov. 5-6.
As part of the benefits of the Challenge Series, Breeders’ Cup will pay the entry fees for the Yasuda Kinen winner to start in the FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Mile, which will be run at 1 mile over the Del Mar turf course. Breeders’ Cup also will provide a travel allowance of US$40,000 for all starters based outside of North America to compete in the World Championships.
The 71st Yasuda Kinen, for 3-year-olds and up, will be run counterclockwise over the Tokyo course. The race will be televisedlive on TVG.
Gran Alegria, a bay daughter of Deep Impact (JPN) out of 2009 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf winner Tapitsfly, by Tapit, has developed into one of the world’s top turf milers. A winner eight times in 12 starts, Gran Alegria has captured four Group 1 races at the 1-mile distance at Tokyo, including a dominating 4-length win in the Victoria Mile on May 16 when she earned an automatic berth into the $2 million Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1). Trained by Kazuo Fujisawa, Gran Alegria’s three other Group 1 wins at a mile came in the 2019 Oka Sho (Japanese 1000 Guineas), in last year’s Yasuda Kinen, and in November’s Mile Championship. In the 2020 Yasuda Kinen, Gran Alegria defeated the brilliant champion Almond Eye (JPN) by 2 ½ lengths, three weeks after Almond Eye had won the Victoria Mile. Christophe Lemaire has the mount, breaking from post five.
“I was very happy about the Victoria Mile win,” said Fujisawa to JRA.com. “Due to the lack of time between races, we’ve just focused on getting her recovered and tuned up. She hasn’t had that many races overall but has come along well nonetheless. Last year in this race, the jockey (Kenichi Ikezoe) said she’d run into trouble (getting hit with turf under way) and it had been a tough race. This year, she’s had a 2,000-meter race before this and was calm and able to wait for instructions, so that’s reassuring.”
Among the challengers slated to face Gran Alegria is Silk Racing Co.’s 4-year-old colt Salios (JPN), a winner of four of eight starts for trainer Noriyuki Hori, who has saddled three winners of the Yasuda Kinen. A chestnut son of Heart’s Cry (JPN), Salios finished second last year in both the Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas) (G1) at Nakayama, and in the 1 ½-mile Tokyo Yushin (Japanese Derby) (G1).
In October, Salios got back in the win column by taking the 1 1/8-mile Mainichi Okan by 3 lengths. On Nov. 22, Salios faced Gran Alegria in the Mile Championship. He started poorly and raced wide throughout. However, he closed from 13th to fifth, and was beaten just a little more than 2 lengths at the finish. In his lone start this year, Salios finished fifth in the 1 ¼-mile Osaka Hai (G1) at Hanshin over a yielding course. Salios will be ridden by Kohei Matsuyama from post five.
Sunday Racing’s 3-year-old Schnell Meister (GER) has won three of four starts, but will be stepping up to face older horses for the first time. Trained by Takahisa Tezuka and ridden by Takeshi Yokoyama from post 13, Schnell Meister comes into the race with a dramatic win in the NHK Mile Cup (G1) at Tokyo on May 9. Back in ninth place and 2 furlongs from home, Schnell Meister wore down his opponents and just nipped stablemate Songline (JPN) at the wire to win by a nose. A bay son on Kingman (GB), Schnell Meister’s lone defeat came when he finished second by 1 ¼ lengths in the 1 ¼-mile Hochi Hai Yayoi Sho Deep Impact Kinen (G2) at Nakayama on March 7.
Silk Racing’s 6-year-old Indy Champ (JPN) won the 2019 Yasuda Kinen and finished 3 lengths behind Gran Alegria in last year’s race. A bay son of Stay Gold (JPN), trained by Hidetaka Otanashi, Indy Champ has won eight times in 20 starts, and has finished in the money on 15 occasions. “Gran Alegria is strong, but this horse is proven at the mile,” said Otanashi. “He’s in good shape and with one final workout this week, he’ll be ready to go.” Yuichi Fukunaga has the mount, breaking from post eight.
Silk Racing has another consistent starter in the 4-year-old Group 1-winner Lauda Sion (JPN), a bay son of Real Impact (JPN). Trained by Takashi Saito, Lauda Sion has five victories and has hit the board nine times in 12 starts. His most recent win came on May 15 over the Tokyo course when he won the 7-furlong Keio Hai Spring Cup (G2) by a neck as the 4-1 favorite. He made his biggest career score last May when he shocked in the HNK Mile Cup (G1), winning the by 1 1/2 lengths at 29-1. He was also second in the 1-mile Fuji Stakes (G2) at Tokyo in October. Mirco Demuro rides Lauda Sion from post seven.
Cadence Call (JPN), for Sunday Racing, has two wins at the mile distance in his last three starts. Trained by Takayuki Yasuda and ridden by Yasunari Iwata from post 12, the 5-year-old by Lord Kanaloa (JPN) won the Sports Nippon Sho Kyoto Kimpai (G3) at Chukyo on Jan. 5. After finishing second by a neck in the 1 1/8-mile Nakayama Kinen (G3) on Feb. 28, Cadence Call returned to the winner’s circle on April 25, taking the Yomiuri Milers Cup at Hanshin by 1 ¼ lengths.
Danox Co. has entered the two sons of Deep Impact — Danon Kingly (JPN) and Danon Premium (JPN) — making their first starts of the year. The 5-year-old Danon Kingly, trained by Kiyoshi Hagiwara, has won five of 11 starts, including last year’s Nakayama Kinen (G2). Danon Premium, trained by Mitsumasa Nakauchida, closed out 2020 with a fourth-place finish in the 1 ¼-mile Longines Hong Kong Gold Cup (G1) at Sha Tin on Dec. 13. Danon Premium, a winner of six of 14 races, has won three times over the Tokyo course at the mile distance. Danon Kingly will be ridden by Yuga Kawada from post 11 and Danon Premium will be ridden by Kenichi Ikezoe from post six.
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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