A remarkable display of international racing was on display before a crowd of 61,215 for the 68th running of the Grade 1 Yasuda Kinen (1600m) at Tokyo on Sunday, June 3rd, with the win by Mozu Ascot (USA) a combination American breeding, Japanese ownership and training and riding by a Frenchman.
Capital System Co. Ltd.’s four-year-old Mozu Ascot, trained by Yoshito Yahagi, and ridden by Christophe Lemaire, may now also be a representative from an Asian Racing Federation country in the Breeders’ Cup with the winner of the earning an automatic berth into the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Mile through the international Breeders’ Cup Challenge.
The Breeders’ Cup Challenge is an international series of stakes races whose winners receive automatic starting positions and fees paid into a corresponding race of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, which will be held this year at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky on November 2-3.
The chestnut son of Frankel (GB) out of the Hennessy mare India was bred in Kentucky by Summer Wind Farm. On Sunday he won his first Group 1 win after being sent off ninth favorite in a field of 16 and equalling the race record of 1:31.3 set in 2012 by Strong Return (JPN).
This was trainer Yahagi’s first Yasuda Kinen victory and fourth JRA-Grade 1 title, his latest was with 2012 Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby) winner Deep Brillante (JPN). Jockey Christophe Lemaire landed his 17th Grade 1 title after claiming the Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks) with Almond Eye (JPN) two weeks earlier.
“I didn’t have any specific plan before the race,” said Lemaire.
“The only thing I wanted to do was to have my horse relaxed and to follow a good horse in the straight. I didn’t want him to lose his balance so I waited for a clearing and a good horse to follow, once I found a gap I asked for full power from the horse and he responded very well and kept on strongly to the finish line,” he said.
“After so many misses (in second) in my previous attempts in this race, I am truly happy to have finally won this title. In a normal situation we would gallop him on a Wednesday and again on the Sunday before the Yasuda but my judgement was that he needed a stronger run (in the Azuchijo Stakes on May 27) and it ended up being the spot on decision,” said Yahagi.
Mozu Ascot improved his career record to five wins in 11 starts. Prior to his runner-up finish in the Azuchijo Stakes, Mozu Ascot was second by 1 ¼ lengths in the Yomiuri Milers Cup (G2) at Kyoto on April 22, and second by a neck in the seven furlong Hankyu Hai (G3) at Hanshin on February 25.
The Yasuda Kinen was the fifth Breeders’ Cup Challenge race to be run in the Mile Division this year. Other potential Asian Racing Federation contenders for the Breeders’ Cup Mile thus far are Legal Eagle (SAF), winner of the L’Oramins Queen’s Plate (G1) at Kenilworth in South Africa and Happy Clapper (AUS), who captured the Star Doncaster Mile (G1) at Royal Randwick in Australia.