Hopeful Stakes final Japanese Grade 1


The Japanese Grade 1 season for 2019 finished with a flourish for trainer Yoshito Yahagi when two-year-old Contrail (JPN) continued undefeated to win the Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes (2000m) at Nakayama on Saturday, December 28th, 2019, a week after his multiple Group 1 winning race mare Lys Graciuex (JPN) won the Grade 1 Arima Kinen.

The Yoshito Yahagi trained Contrail (JPN) under Yuichi Fukunaga winning the Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes, picture Japan Racing Association
The Yoshito Yahagi trained Contrail (JPN) under Yuichi Fukunaga winning the Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes, picture Japan Racing Association

While Lys Graciuex is now retired to the breeding barn Yahagi has an immediate replacement in his stable with the Deep Impact colt Contrail. The win in the Hopeful Stakes was the trainer’s ninth JRA Grade 1 victory and the colt has now won each of his three race starts.

Contrail, out of the Unbridled Song mare Rhodochrosite, bred by North Hills Co., Ltd and owned by Shinji Maeda, won his maiden in his September over 1,800m and followed that up with a 5 length victory in the Grade 3 Tokyo Sports Hai Nisai Stakes (1,800m) in November where he set a new course record.
The Hopeful Stakes win was accomplished in style with a 1 ½ lengths under jockey Yuichi Fukunaga after they had tracked the leaders and took control over the final 200m.

The win was Fukunaga’s third JRA-Grade 1 title this year after his victories in the Takamatsunomiya Kinen with Mr Melody and the Yasuda Kinen with Indy Champ and 25th overall.

“He was really strong. I did not have to do anything but just sit on him,” said Fukunaga.

“He really changed his gear effortlessly but did show that he was a little lost once up front, but the colt really showed his potentials towards his three-year-old campaign next year,” he said.

Yahagi has campaigned his runners on the international stage and Contrail might be the next contender.

The Japanese Grade 1 season commences again in late February with the February Stakes (1600m) at Toyko on the Dirt Course.