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Yutaka Take, Jack d'Or Team Up for Narrow Victory in 67th Osaka Hai

Second favorite Jack d'Or held off Stars on Earth by a nose to win the 2,000-meter Osaka Hai, giving Take his eighth win in the race.

Jack d'Or, ridden by legendary jockey Yutaka Take, won the Osaka Hai by a nose on Sunday, April 2.

Race favorite Stars on Earth, steered by 2015 Osaka Hai winner Christophe Lemaire, made a spectacular surge toward the front of the pack in the 2,000-meter turf race, but finished just short at Hanshin Racecourse. 

Jack d'Or, the wire-to-wire winner, completed the Japan Racing Association Grade 1 event in 1 minute, 57.4 seconds, a race record, in Takarazuka, Hyogo Prefecture.

For Take, Sunday's triumph was his 80th JRA G1 win. The Kyoto native, who celebrated his 54th birthday on March 15, is the oldest jockey to win a G1 race in Japan. Trainer Kenichi Fujioka earned his third G1 triumph. (Watch the full race on the JRA's YouTube channel.)

Take has had extraordinary success in this race over the years. Established in 1957, it was previously known as the Sankei Osaka Hai through 2016 and contested as a G2 race from 1984-2016. Take collected race victories in 1988 (Fresh Voice), 1990 (Super Creek), 1993 (Mejiro McQueen), 1997 (Marvelous Sunday), 1998 (Air Groove), 2014 (Kizuna) and 2017 (Kitasan Black).

Jack d'Or unwinds after his first race of 2023. (ⒸSANKEI)

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Osaka Hai Results

On Sunday, veteran poise and decades of racing experience were on display as Take surveyed his surroundings and handled the rapid test of speed with aplomb.

Finishing a neck's length behind Stars on Earth was Danon the Kid, who was piloted by Kazuo Yokoyama. His father, Norihiro Yokoyama, rode Matenro Leon to a fourth-place finish. Maria Elena (Suguru Hamanaka) placed fifth.

Third favorite Weltreisende, guided by Dubai World Cup winner Yuga Kawada, was ninth, while fourth favorite Hishi Iguazu (Kohei Matsuyama), finished seventh.

Potager (Ryusei Sakai), the 2022 Osaka Hai winner, was 10th.

Osaka Hai
Yutaka Take rides Jack d'Or to an Osaka Hai race-record time of 1 minute, 57.4 seconds. (KYODO)

Speed Sets the Tone in Osaka Hai

Take admitted that he wanted Maurice-sired Jack d'Or to produce a quick tempo from the get-go. He also noted that he thought it would be a big factor for his horse in this race. 

As it turned out, Take was correct. 

Running on the inside, Jack d'Or showed impressive speed out of the gate from his assigned (ninth) post position.

Jack d'Or moved past early co-leader North the World less than 30 seconds into the race.

From that point on, Jack d'Or was in command, though he had formidable challengers later.

"I was hoping to take the front if we could get a good start," he told reporters after the race. "He was a bit keen to go in the first two corners but raced in good rhythm thereafter.

"I think it was tough for him because of the headwind in the straight, but I had a feeling that we were able to hold off the chasing horses when we crossed the wire."

Osaka Hai
Horses jockey for position in the 67th Osaka Hai. (ⒸSANKEI)

Jack d'Or was clocked in 58.9 seconds for the first 1,000 meters.

Stars on Earth, zooming from 12th place to second overall, raced the final three furlongs (about 600 meters) in 34.4 seconds, the fastest time among the 16 entrants. Jack d'Or completed that stretch of the race in 35.3 seconds, just fast enough to survive Stars on Earth's spirited attempt to win it.

Meanwhile, North the Wind, ridden by Yuichi Kitamura, slipped from second place after the final turn to 15th overall.

Winning jockey Yutaka Take poses for pictures after the race. (ⒸSANKEI)

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Appreciation for His Success

Indeed, satisfaction marked Take's latest G1 victory, which was his first since the 89th Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby) on May 29, 2022. And he expressed gratitude for the talented thoroughbreds his trainers have assigned him to saddle up over the years.

"I owe it to all the many great horses I was able to ride, and I will do my best to extend this record even further," Take said.

Jack d'Or was competing in his first race since the Hong Kong Cup in December 2022, where he placed seventh with Take. Including Sunday's Oaska Hai, Jack d'Or has now won seven of his last 10 races.

Up Next

The Oka Sho (Japanese 1000 Guineas) is the next G1 race on the Japanese racing calendar. It will be held on Sunday, April 9 at Hanshin Racecourse.


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 Twitter @ed_odeven.


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