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Horse Racing

Mama Cocha Triumphs by a Nose in the 57th Sprinters Stakes

Jockey Yuga Kawada won the Sprinters Stakes for the second time. In 2018, Kawada and Fine Needle teamed up for a victory in the 1,200-meter, Grade 1 race.

With Yuga Kawada handling the reins, Mama Cocha ran exactly as fast as she needed to down the stretch in the 57th Sprinters Stakes.

Mama Cocha was clocked in 34.5 seconds over the final three furlongs (about 600 meters) and held off fast-charging Mad Cool at the wire by a nose on Sunday, October 1 at Nakayama Racecourse. 

Mad Cool, piloted by Ryusei Sakai, ran the final three furlongs in 34.4 seconds and ran out of real estate to overtake Mama Cocha. It was an entertaining finish witnessed by 28,271 in Funabashi, Chiba Prefecture.

For Mama Cocha, a younger sister of ultra-popular white filly Sodashi, it was her sixth victory in 13 career races. It was achieved in 1 minute, 8 seconds. (Watch the race on YouTube.)

Earlier in the week, assistant trainer Yuki Iwasaki's assessment of 4-year-old filly Mama Cocha's preparations and the Kurofune progeny's chances in the Japan Racing Association Grade 1 race proved to be spot-on.

"Without pushing her too hard, she's been able to get a good position in her races, and 1,200 meters looks as if it suits her," Iwasaki commented. "She looked a little heavy in her recent work, but it seems that every time she goes to the farm, she fills out a bit more and becomes stronger."

Prepared for the challenge in the 16-horse field, Mama Cocha delivered Kawada's 24th JRA G1 victory, while trainer Yasutoshi Ikee won his 22nd.

In addition, Ikee triumphed in the Sprinters Stakes for the second straight year. Seven-year-old Gendarme (Kiwamu Ogino) was Ikee's winning entry in 2022.

Sprinters Stakes
Winning jockey Yuga Kawada (left) and trainer Yasutoshi Ikee celebrate after the race. (ⒸSANKEI)

Insights from Kawada After the Sprinters Stakes

"This filly is a completely different type of horse compared to her famous sister," Kawada said in his post-race interview. "But she has a good potential in her own right to become a good sprinter. And while still winless in grade-race level coming into this race, I felt she had a good chance when I first rode her in her speedwork and at the post-race parade." 

Kawada, who is No 1 in the JRA jockeys rankings (121 wins in 377 races through October 1), also triumphed in the Sprinters Stakes in 2018 aboard Fine Needle. The 37-year-old jockey has high hopes for Mama Cocha moving forward. He was encouraged by her performance amidst high-stakes pressure.

"She still has a lot of room for improvement and there were moments where I had to be careful in keeping her in good rhythm while she was forced out slightly by pressure from the horses in the inside between the last two corners," Kawada said. 

He added, "She did respond well, though, when challenged at the straight and I am glad that she was able to sustain her bid to the wire to claim the win." 

Sprinters Stakes
Mama Cocha and Mad Cool (top, right) chase a victory in the 57th Sprinters Stakes. (ⒸSANKEI)

As the Race Unfolded

Jasper Krone (Taisei Danno) was the early leader, with T M Spada in quick pursuit.

But Mama Cocha produced a solid run over the first half of the race to position herself as a contender. A burst of speed before the final turn moved Mama Cocha into second place. Seconds later, Kawada rode Mama Cocha past Jasper Krone into the lead.

That set the stage for what lasted just a few seconds: the race within the race between Mama Cocha and Mad Cool.

Trailing Mama Cocha and Mad Cool on the final stretch, race favorite Namura Clair (Suguru Hamanaka) finished one length behind the runner-up.

Jasper Krone was another length back to secure a fourth-place finish. Two-time Sprinters Stakes winner Kenichi Ikezoe was fifth aboard Meikei Yell.

Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe winner Ace Impact with jockey Cristian Demuro at Longchamp Racecourse on October 1. (ⒸSANKEI/Katsumi Saito)

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Demuro, Ace Impact Win the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe

Italian jockey Cristian Demuro, winner of the JRA's Queen Elizabeth II Cup in 2022, teamed up with Cracksman-sired Ace Impact, the race favorite, to win the prestigious Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp Racecourse in Paris on Sunday, October 1.

Ace Impact, a 3-year-old bay colt, now has six victories in his six career starts.

Demuro also won the 2,400-meter race in 2020 with Sottsass.

"He sprinted down the final straight like he wanted to go home!” Demuro said of Ace Impact, according to Agence France-Prese. “It is extraordinary to ride crack horses like this, it is just amazing."

JRA mainstay Christophe Lemaire rode Japanese 5-year-old mare Through Seven Seas, who is trained by Tomohito Ozeki, to a fourth-place finish among 15 participants.

Christophe Lemaire rides Through Seven Seas in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. (KYODO)

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Author: Ed Odeven

Find Ed on JAPAN Forward's dedicated website, SportsLook. Follow his [Japan Sports Notebook] on Sundays, [Odds and Evens] during the week, and on X (formerly Twitter) @ed_odeven.

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