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Horse Racing

Blow the Horn Wins the Takarazuka Kinen with an Impressive Finish

Akira Sugawara collected his first JRA G1 victory aboard the Epiphaneia offspring, clocking 34.0 seconds over the final three furlongs in the Takarazuka Kinen.

Third favorite Blow the Horn won the 65th Takarazuka Kinen to claim his first Grade 1 victory on Sunday, June 23 at Kyoto Racecourse. 

Trainer Tatsuya Yoshioka, who opened his yard in 2020, claimed his fifth graded win and first G1 title.

Jockey Akira Sugawara, who debuted in 2019 and has partnered with this horse in recent starts, scored his 10th graded and first G1 victory. 

Initially trained by Eiji Nakano, the Epiphaneia-sired Blow the Horn debuted as a 2-year-old in November 2021. He broke his maiden in his ninth career start in June 2022 (Hakodate, 2,000 meters) at age 3. And he marked another win the same year in December (Nakayama, 2,500 meters).

In 2023, Blow the Horn captured three victories between 2,200-2,600-meter distances as a 4-year-old. But due to an atrial fibrillation he did not finish his last start of the season in the Kyoto Daishoten (G2, 2,400 meters) in October. 

He kicked off this season by registering his first graded title in the Nikkei Shinshun Hai (Kyoto, G2, 2,400 meters) in January. And after moving to the current stable with the retirement of his former trainer, he finished third in the Hanshin Daishoten (G2, 3,000 meters) in March. 

Blow the Horn was second in his previous start, the Tenno Sho (Spring) (G1, 3,200 meters), at Kyoto Racecourse on April 28. 

Takarazuka Kinen
Blow the Horn closes in on a victory in the 65th running of the Takarazuka Kinen. (©SANKEI)

The Key to Victory in the Takarazuka Kinen

Five-year-old Blow the Horn broke smoothly from stall 12 and settled second from last, right outside the race favorite. As the field entered the uphill climb in the backstretch, the Epiphaneia bay edged forward from the outside. 

Blow the Horn turned the final corners the widest and passed his rivals one by one in the lane before taking the lead 100 meters out. Despite rainy conditions, he pulled away with a powerful late kick that marked the fastest final three furlongs (34.0 seconds) for a comfortable two-length victory.

The winning time was 2 minutes, 12.0 seconds. (Watch the race on the JRA's YouTube channel.)

Takarazuka Kinen
Winning jockey Akira Sugawara reacts after the race. (©SANKEI)

"We were able to win the race because the horse ran really hard despite the heavy going," Sugawara said after winning the 13-horse competition. "Although we were positioned further back than planned and took the widest route, the horse seemed to have plenty of strength left when we turned the fourth corner.

"So I urged him to go at the stretch and he responded with a remarkable turn of speed."

Takarazuka Kinen
Bellagio Opera (3) and Sol Oriens (9) vie for a win in the Takarazuka Kinen. Blow the Horn placed first, followed by Sol Oriens and Bellagio Opera. (KYODO)

The Battle for Second Place in the Takarazuka Kinen

Seventh pick and 2023 Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas, G1, 2,000 meters) winner Sol Oriens, ridden by Takeshi Yokoyama, settled wide around seventh, dropping position turning the last corner wide to enter the stretch in 12th. And though he had too much ground to catch up with the eventual winner, he matched Blow the Horn's time for the fastest final three furlongs. 

As a result, Sol Oriens secured the runner-up seat just before the wire.

Fifth choice Bellagio Opera (Kazuo Yokoyama, Takeshi's older brother), the 2024 Osaka Hai (G1, 2,000 meters) champion, chased the pace in fourth. He rallied for the lead after the third corner and briefly took command before the 200-meter pole. But Bellagio Opera soon surrendered the lead and was denied a runner-up finish by Sol Oriens.

Bellagio Opera settled for third while holding off Deep Impact-sired Pradaria (Kenichi Ikezoe) by a neck.

Rousham Park (Keita Tosaki) finished fifth, three lengths behind Pradaria.

Race favorite Do Deuce (Yutaka Take) traveled in the very rear and took an inner path after entering the stretch to make a bid for the win. But he was unable to catch up with the leaders and finished sixth.

Second favorite Justin Palace (Christophe Lemaire) placed 10th.

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A Look Ahead

After a summer hiatus, Japan Racing Association G1 racing returns on September 29 with the Sprinters Stakes at Nakayama Racecourse in Funabashi, Chiba Prefecture.

Read the full report, including details on each of the Takarazuka Kinen entrants, on JRA News.

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Author: JRA News

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