Fourth pick Durezza conquered the 3,000-meter distance to score his first graded and fifth consecutive win in the 84th Kikuka Sho (Japanese St Leger) on Sunday, October 22. He did so by putting away the victors of the first two legs of 2023's Triple Crown in a stunning 3½-length win at Kyoto Racecourse.
The brown colt broke his maiden two months after his debut in September as a 2-year-old and had registered three allowance races this season — the Yamabuki Sho (1 Win Class, 2,200 meters) in April, the Hong Kong Jockey Club Trophy (2 Wins Class, 2,000 meters) in June and the Nihonkai Stakes (3 Wins Class, 2,200 meters) in August.
This success brought trainer Tomohito Ozeki his first Japan Racing Association Grade 1 win since the 2017 Sprinters Stakes with Red Falx and third overall title. Jockey Christophe Lemaire celebrated his third Kikuka Sho triumph following victories in 2016 and 2018 with Satono Diamond and Fierement, respectively.
Lemaire's most recent JRA-G1 success was with Equinox in the Takarazuka Kinen on June 25, and he is now the owner of a total of 46 titles.
Durezza Showcases Speed Early On
Durezza, who started from the farthest post position, rushed to the front to take the lead while Pax Ottomanica, guided by Hironobu Tanabe, sat on his tail a length behind in second.
After covering the first 1,000 meters in 1 minute, 0.4 seconds, the son of Duramente was steadied to third from the front in the backstretch, briefly giving up the lead to Pax Ottomanica and Libyan Glass.
As the field started making their bids after the third corner in the second lap, Durezza was second to enter the lane, kicked into gear catching Libyan Glass, ridden by Ryusei Sakai, before the 200-meter pole to take command once again. Then he stretched with the fastest closing speed to clear the wire 3½ lengths in front of the next contender.
Lemaire's Impressions of Durezza's Kikuka Sho Victory
“He made a flying start and was keen to go, so I decided to let him take the lead," Lemaire said of the 3-year-old colt.
The French jockey added, "He responded well between the third and last corner which made me confident that he was going to close strongly. When he accelerated in the stretch, I knew we were going to win.
"To see him beat such a strong field today over the 3,000-meter distance means we can look forward to him doing well among G1 company over 2,000 and 2,400 meters also."
Tastiera Takes 2nd, Sol Oriens Finishes 3rd
Sent off favored in second, Tastiera (Joao Moriera's ride) was settled around ninth and traveled wide in the backstretch before turning home alongside the race favorite Sol Oriens (Takeshi Yokoyama). Tastiera, winner of the Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby), the second leg of the Triple Crown on May 28, showed a good turn of foot down the center of the lane with the second-fastest late kick, but failed to threaten the winner in a 3½-length runner-up effort.
Sol Oriens was unhurried traveling wide in fifth to sixth from the rear, made headway at the third corner and made a wide sweeping bid into the straight. Winner of the Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas), the first race of the Triple Crown on April 16, Sol Oriens picked off his tired opponents and dug in fiercely for third in the final strides, finishing 1½ lengths behind his biggest rival, Tastiera.
Read the full report on the 84th Kikuka Sho, including analysis of each horse's performance, on JRA News.
Author: JRA News