Japan’s first Grade 1 race of the spring season, the Takamatsunomiya Kinen (1200m) had two notable JRA Grade 1 firsts

Japan’s first Grade 1 race of the spring season, the ¥ 281,800,000 Takamatsunomiya Kinen (1200m) at Chukyo on Sunday, March 29th, 2020, had two notable JRA Grade 1 firsts, the race was held without spectators due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic and the horse who crossed the line first was demoted.

Mozu Superflare (USA) claimed her first Grade 1 title after crossing the finish line in second, as Kurino Gaudi (JPN) was demoted to fourth place due to interference. This was the first case in JRA-Grade 1 history in which a horse who crossed the wire first was demoted since Buena Vista was demoted to second in the 2010 Japan Cup.

Mozu Superflare, a five-year-old mare by Speightstown out of the Belong To Me mare Christies Treasure, has only raced at 1200m and 1400m since her debut. She won her first graded victory in last year’s Grade 3 Ocean Stakes over 1200m and though finishing a disappointing 15th in the following Takamatsunomiya Kinen she improved to be second in the Grade 1 Sprinters Stakes over 1200m in September.

The mare commenced this season with a fourth in the Grade 3 Silk Road Stakes over 1200m on February 2. Sunday’s win was her seventh win from 20 starts.

The win marked trainer Hidetaka Otonashi’s 13th JRA-Grade 1 victory following the Champions Cup with Chrysoberyl in December last year. Jockey Fuma Matsuwaka celebrated his first JRA-Grade 1 victory and seventh graded win since debuting in 2014.

The field of 18 broke smoothly with fourth pick Diatonic dashing out but easing back to let Mozu Superflare take the front followed by sixth pick Seiun Kosei and 15th pick Kurino Gaudi.

While Mozu Superflare accelerated strongly in the main straight for a wire-to-wire victory, Kurino Gaudi, followed by Diatonic, closed in from the outside, and caught up with the leader 100 meters out.

Second choice Gran Alegria was on the outside of the field into the straight and produced an impressive burst of speed, running the tied fastest of the field in the last 600m, and caught up with the front three horses 50 meters out to unfold a four-horse rally before the wire.

After a long inquiry, Kurino Gaudi, who crossed the wire first, was demoted to fourth for interfering with Mozu Superflare and Diatonic 100m out, giving Mozu Superflare her first Grade 1 title. Gran Alegria (JPN) (Deep Impact) and Diatonic (JPN) (Lord Kanaloa) who came in third and fourth were promoted to second and third respectively.

“She broke well as I hoped she would and was able race in her own rhythm. With the sun coming out in the afternoon, the ground was not as bad as we had anticipated, which I think worked in her favour. To be honest, I thought that we had lost when we crossed the wire but I am genuinely happy that we were able to win our first Grade 1 title,” commented Matsuwaka.