International flavour to Tower Of London’s Sprinters Stakes win


Japan's Grade 1 autumn season opened at Nakayama on Sunday before a crowd of 34,347 with an international flavour as the world-wide breeding and racing stables of Godolphin were successful with Tower Of London (JPN) under Frenchman Christophe Lemaire and trained by Japan's Kazuo Fujisawa to win the 53rd renewal of the ¥ 238,600,000, Grade 1 Sprinter Stakes (1200m).

Tower Of London (JPN) and Christophe Lemaire, picture Japan Racing Association
Tower Of London (JPN) and Christophe Lemaire, picture Japan Racing Association

It was the fifth black type win for the second favorite Tower of London after the four-year-old entire registered three wins out of five starts as a two-year-old which included the Grade 2 Keio Hai Nisai Stakes (1,400m).

In his three-year-old campaign last year, the son of Raven’s Pass captured the Grade 3 Arlington Cup (1,600m). After winning the Grade 2 Keio Hai Spring Cup (1,400m) earlier this season, the bay colt was switched to races at the 1200m distance and had immediately showed potential by marking a third in the Grade 3 Hakodate Sprint Stakes in June, a second in the Grade 3 Keeneland Cup in August and dominating the Grade 2 Centaur Stakes in record-breaking time just three weeks earlier.

Tower of London has given Kazuo Fujisawa his 29th JRA-Grade 1 victor, Fujisawa’s most recent title was the Oka Sho (Japanese 1000 Guineas) with Gran Alegria this year, and his second Sprinters Stakes title following the 1997 victory with Taiki Shuttle. Jockey Christophe Lemaire’s most recent JRA-Grade 1 win was with Fierement in the Tenno Sho (Spring) this year and he has now collected a total of 26 titles.

The race broke evenly with Mozu Superflare (USA) gunning for the lead and setting the pace as expected. Sitting in mid-field stalking the favourite Danon Smash (JPN) down the backstretch, Tower of London launched his bid as he swiftly angled out after the third corner and entered the straight four wide with a clear path in front of him. Gliding up the stretch with a good turn of foot, the four-year-old bay swooped past Mr Melody 100 meters out and caught pacesetter Mozu Superflare in the final strides for a half-length win.

“I was a bit worried that we were not in a good striking position since the fast track today at Nakayama was definitely an advantage for the frontrunners.

We had our eyes on Danon Smash who was traveling on the rails so we shifted out. Tower of London has great talent and stretched strongly all the way to the wire today. I knew he was an exceptional horse but he’s getting stronger with every sprint start,” commented Christophe Lemaire after the race.

Sent off third favourite, four-year-old filly Mozu Superflare (Speightstown) dashed to the front to set the pace, and stubbornly held on well but was unable to withstand the fast-closing Tower of London and finished a good second, demonstrating a much better performance than her disappointing defeat (15th) earlier this year in the Takamatsunomiya Kinen.

Race favourite Danon Smash (Lord Kanaloa), breaking from an inner stall, saved ground on the rails in front of Tower of London in mid-division. While the eventual winner made a smooth wide turn for his stretch run, the Keeneland Cup winner was a fraction late to slide out behind a pack of horses and although ran strongly down the straight, was short in tagging Mozu Superlfare but dug in for a neck third.

The winning time was 1.07.1 on the Firm rated track.

Tower Of London, out of the Dalakhani mare Snow Pine, was bred by Godolphin's Japanese arm Darley Japan K. K. This was his seventh win from 14 starts with career earnings ¥ 397,470,000.

The next Grade 1 race is the Shuka Sho (2000m) for three-year-old fillies at Kyoto on October 13th.