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Horse Racing

Regaleira Becomes the First Filly Winner of the Hopeful Stakes in the Race's G1 Era

Guided by Christophe Lemaire, Regaleira earned her first JRA Grade 1 title in the Hopeful Stakes, completing the 2,000 meters in a race-record time of 2:00.2.

Race favorite Regaleira won the 40th Hopeful Stakes in a race-record time of 2 minutes, 0.2 seconds on Thursday, December 28 at Nakayama Racecourse.

In Funabashi, Chiba Prefecture, Regaleira became the first filly to win the race since it was elevated to Grade 1 status in 2017 and gave her sire Suave Richard his first G1 title. 

Winning in her debut race (Hakodate, 1,800 meters) in July, she came off a third among a mixed field in the Ivy Stakes (Listed, 1,800 meters) on October 21. 

This win gave Regaleira's trainer Tetsuya Kimura and jockey Christophe Lemaire their eighth and 50th Japan Racing Association G1 wins, respectively, following their Japan Cup victory with Equinox on November 26. 

It was Lemaire's fourth win in the Hopeful Stakes. He previously triumphed in 2011, 2013 and '16.

Shunsuke Yoshida, representative of Sunday Racing, which owns Regaleira, stated that Regaleira will likely race in the Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas) in the spring of 2024. 

Hopeful Stakes
Regaleira sets the pace near the end of the 2,000-meter Hopeful Stakes. (ⒸSANKEI)

Breaking slowly from an outside draw (13th post position), Regaleira settled third from the rear, edged forward traveling two wide in the backstretch and rounded the last two corners wide to make a bid. 

Though meeting traffic at an early stretch, Lemaire steered the Suave Richard filly further out for a clear path, from where she unleashed an explosive burst of speed. She then flew past her rivals with the fastest finishing drive (35.0 seconds for the final three furlongs), grabbing the lead 100 meters out to claim the win. (Watch the race on the JRA's YouTube channel.)

Hopeful Stakes
Winning jockey Christophe Lemaire (ⒸSANKEI)

The Road to Victory in the Hopeful Stakes

Looking back on the race, Lemaire commented on the challenge that Regaleira faced.

"We had to travel near the rear because the filly missed her break, but she was very calm after that," Lemaire said. 

"She responded well at the last two corners and, after I steered her to the outside, [she] displayed an incredible late charge. I look forward to her performances next year, and I think a longer distance would also suit her."

Hopeful Stakes
Regaleira (13) vies for victory in the 40th running of the Hopeful Stakes. (ⒸSANKEI)

Other Top Finishers in the Hopeful Stakes

Second pick Shin Emperor, ridden by Kazakh jockey Bauyrzhan Murzabayev, who won the 2022 Hopeful Stakes aboard Dura Erede, broke smoothly out of the gate and traveled in good position, around fourth from the front. 

Advancing position turning the final corners, the Siyouni progeny was at the top when entering the lane, further accelerated in the stretch and, though overtaken by the fast-closing winner 100 meters out, bested the rest of the field by two lengths to secure a runner-up finish. 

Thirteenth choice Sunrise Zipangu (Akira Sugawara) advanced to third after breaking sharply and eased back to around fifth in the backstretch. The Kizuna colt angled out for the final turn and closed in on Shin Emperor while drifting to the inside in the stretch. But he was overtaken by the eventual winner in the last 100 meters. Then Sunrise Zipangu found little room behind the runner-up to finish third, two lengths behind Shin Emperor.

Admiral Ship (Hollie Doyle) finished fourth, while Mr G T (Ryusei Sakai) placed fifth.

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

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