Mozu Ascot dominates Toyko's Grade 1 February Stakes to set up Sydney trip

Before a crowd of 50,985 at Tokyo on Sunday race favorite Mozu Ascot under Christophe Lemaire captured his second Grade 1 victory in this year’s February Stakes (1600m) and has become the fifth horse to claim Grade 1 titles both on turf and dirt following Kurofune, Agnes Digital, Eagle Cafe and Admire Don.

Mozu Ascot and Christophe Lemaire winning the Grade 1 February Stakes at Tokyo, picture Japan Racing Association
Mozu Ascot and Christophe Lemaire winning the Grade 1 February Stakes at Tokyo, picture Japan Racing Association
The win sets up a challenge between Asian Racing Federation countries with trainer Yoshito Yahagi ready to plunder Australia again after his famous Lys Gracieux victory in the Group 1 WS Cox Plate at The Valley in Melbourne last October. This time Yahagi is looking at Randwick, Sydney, with Mozu Ascot to take on the Group 1 Doncaster Mile (1600m) on April 4th.

With last year’s Arima Kinen victory (Lys Graciuex) and the Hopeful Stakes win (Contrail) that followed, Yahagi has now become the first trainer since Kunihide Matsuda in 2004 and second overall to capture three JRA-Grade 1 titles consecutively. Lemaire has now 28 JRA-Grade 1 wins—his latest was in last season’s Tenno Sho (Autumn) with Almond Eye.

The full gate of 16 opened with Wide Pharaoh and Arctos sprinting to the front to lead the field while Mozu Ascot was settled behind last year’s winner and second favorite, Inti in mid-division. After entering the straight in sixth to seventh, the race favorite came looming up from the inside, took over the lead from Time Flyer before the furlong marker and galloped strongly and unthreatened to the wire for a 2-1/2-length victory.

“He broke well and we were able to settle right behind Inti as planned. His acceleration was extraordinary. Although he is a newcomer in dirt racing, he adapted immediately to the surface and gave his best today. After a couple of seconds in the past, I myself, am happy to have won the February Stakes at last,” commented Christophe Lemaire.

Seven-year-old K T Brave broke well from a wide stall and sat a length or two behind the eventual winner in mid-pack. The longest shot on the board angled out sharply at early stretch and while displaying a tremendous burst of speed, tagged the tiring Time Flyer first before shaking off a stubborn Wonder Lider 50 meters out for second.

Sunrise Nova traveled outside Wonder Lider two to three lengths behind K T Brave and was late in making his bid entering the lane second from last, but with the fastest last three-furlong speed, the third-pick showed a strong stretch charge pinning Wonder Lider at the wire for third.

Mozu Ascot is a six-year-old entire by Frankel out of the Hennessy mare India. Bred by Summer Wind Farm he is owned by Capital System Co. Ltd.