May opened with Gold Ship (JPN) claiming the 151st Group 1 Tenno Sho (Spring) (3200m) in Kyoto at his third attempt.
It was the sixth Group 1 win for the six-year-old grey entire by Stay Gold which followed his third consecutive victory in the Hanshin Daishoten last March.
The win raised hopes towards his next target, to become the first horse in JRA history to claim three consecutive Group 1 victories in flat racing in the coming Takarazuka Kinen in June.
Trainer Naosuke Sugai reached a milestone of 10 JRA-Group 1 victories with the win while jockey Norihiro Yokoyama won his 24th title—the latest being in last year’s Takarazuka Kinen for both.
Yokoyama added one more to his tally when he made it two Group 1 wins in succession when he rode Clarity Sky (JPN) to victory in the NHK Mile Cup (1600m) the following week at Tokyo.
The win was remarkable as it marked a father-son victory as Carlity Sky’s sire Kurofune (USA, by French Deputy) claimed the race in 2001.
Last December Straight Girl (JPN) was third to Aerovelocity (NZ) in the Group 1 Longines Hong Kong Sprint over 1200m at Sha Tin. Mid-May the Hideaki Fujiwara trained Fuji Kiseki mare won her own Group 1 title in the Victoria Mile Challenge (1600m) at Tokyo.
Mikki Queen (JPN) made the Group 1 Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks) (2400m) at Tokyo her own with the Deep Impact filly overpowering the favourite Rouge Buck (JPN) in the final 100m to win with a 3/4l margin.
The Group 1 Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby) (2400m) at Tokyo at the end of May saw fully-fledged JRA jockey Mirco Demuro take Duramente (JPN) to a dominant win in the 82nd running of the three-year-old classic.
The Nobuyuki Hori trained colt was the 23rd colt to claim the first two legs of the Triple Crown and breaking the race record, previously held by his sire King Kamehameha in 2004, by 0.1 seconds.
The win has set up expectations for Duramente (JPN) to race on the world stage later in the year.
Early June saw the 65th renewal of the Group 1 Yasuda Kinen (1600m) at Toyko and once again it was Noriyuki Hori to the forefront when his four-year-old entire Maurice (JPN) made it four wins in succession and his first Group 1 win to become the best miler of the spring season.
Hori registered his eighth JRA-Group 1 win following the victory in the Tokyo Yushun with Duramente, and it was his third Yasuda Kinen title. He won the race with Real Impact in 2011 and Strong Return in 2012.
The winner’s sire, Screen Hero (JPN) (Grass Wonder) was the winner of the Japan Cup in 2008, and Maurice is the first of his offspring to capture a Group 1 title.