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Horse Racing

11th Pick Peptide Nile Earns Stunning Upset in February Stakes

Peptide Nile accelerated with a good turn of foot to seize command in the February Stakes before the final furlong marker and held on for the victory.

Lightly regarded Peptide Nile turned in an astonishing performance in the 1,600-meter February Stakes to claim his first Japan Racing Association Grade 1 title on Sunday, February 18 at Tokyo Racecourse.

After debuting in January 2021, as a 3-year-old, the son of King Kamehameha was transferred to dirt racing from his third start and immediately showed potential with a three-race winning streak. But, in 2022, Peptide Nile was only able to claim one win in five starts in his 4-year-old campaign.

In 2023, including the Onuma Stakes (listed, dirt, 1,700 meters) and the Betelgeuse Stakes (listed, dirt, 1,800 meters), the bay landed three wins and had just come off a sixth in his latest outing, the Tokai Stakes (G2, dirt, 1,800 meters), on January 21.

The 6-year-old gave trainer Hidenori Take, who opened his yard in 2018, his seventh flat-race graded title and first G1 victory. At the same time, jockey Yusuke Fujioka celebrated his second JRA G1 win and first since his NHK Mile Cup triumph with Keiai Nautique in 2018.

February Stakes
Another view of frontrunner Peptide Nile's burst of speed en route to victory. (©SANKEI)

How the 41st February Stakes Unfolded

Don Frankie, ridden by Kenichi Ikezoe, led the 16-horse field with a fast pace all the way into the stretch while Wilson Tesoro, Igniter, Dura Erede and Peptide Nile sat in close pursuit.

Shifting slightly outside for room turning the final corners, Peptide Nile, the 11th pick, slipped into the lane in fourth in good striking position, accelerated with a good turn of foot to seize command before the furlong marker and held on well to win by a 1¼-length margin. (Watch the full race on the JRA's YouTube channel.)

"The pace was tough but he ran a great race," Fujioka said after the race. "We were able to sit in a better position than expected.

"But I didn't imagine he would take over the lead that early and that easily. The wire seemed very far today."

February Stakes
Yusuke Fujioka and Peptide Nile are seen after the Japan Racing Association's first Grade 1 race of 2024. (©SANKEI)

The winning jockey added, "His last start didn't turn out as hoped, but as long as he's able to run in good rhythm as he did today, I'm sure we can look forward to solid performances in the future."

Peptide Nile completed the race in 1 minute, 35.7 seconds.

February Stakes
The 41st running of the February Stakes at Tokyo Racecourse on February 18. (©SANKEI)

Additional Details of the Race

Fifth choice Gaia Force (jockey Yoshihito Nagaoka's ride), who ran over dirt for the first time in this G1 event, settled three-wide and in eighth before switching paths to the outside entering the straight. The 5-year-old gray gradually closed in on the leaders and although failing to threaten the eventual winner, Gaia Force showed good speed in the last 200 meters to rally with Sekifu and Tagano Beauty (Shu Ishibashi) to secure the runner-up seat by a neck. 

Thirteenth pick Sekifu, piloted by Japanese racing legend Yutaka Take, saved ground third from the rear and angled out while still having much ground to make up. But Sekifu launched the fastest late kick and dug in well to the wire in a fierce rally for a photo-finish third.

Race favorite Omega Guiness, guided by French jockey Christophe Lemaire, dropped away disappointingly to finish 14th after racing prominently in seventh and two-wide up to the early stretch.

Tagano Beauty placed fourth and King's Sword (Mirai Iwata) finished fifth.

Read about all of the race's participants in this expanded report on JRA News.

It's just a shoe!

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Author: JRA News

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