Four-year-old Gold Dream won this year's Champions Cup in record-tying speed of 1:50.1, which was set by Sound True last year, to claim his second G1 title following this year's February Stakes. He is the third horse to capture JRA's two dirt G1 races in the same year following Wing Arrow in 2000 and Transcend in 2011.
Gold Dream debuted in December of his juvenile season, starting his career with a three-race winning streak. He registered his first graded victory in his fifth career start in the Unicorn Stakes. Posted second favorite but finishing a disappointing 12th in last year's Champions Cup, he promptly regained his form to score his first G1 title in the February Stakes, his first start of 2017. However, the son of Gold Allure was below form thereafter, finishing 14th in his first overseas attempt in the Dubai World Cup in March, seventh in the Teio Sho and fifth in the previous Mile Championship Nambu Hai in October.
This win marked trainer Osamu Hirata's third JRA-G1 title following the February Stakes with Gold Dream and the 2012 NHK Mile Cup with Curren Black Hill. Ryan Moore, who is here on a short-term license, registered his seventh JRA-G1 title following the 2016 Tenno Sho (Autumn) with Maurice. Gold Dream is the second sibling of Gold Allure (JPN, by Sunday Silence) to capture this race following Espoir City who won the race (Japan Cup Dirt) in 2009—the sire has also produced three February Stakes winners. The breeder Northern Farm, who has the record of the most annual JRA-G1 wins of nine which was set in 2005, 2008 and 2015, renewed the number to 10 with this win.
Breaking smoothly from stall nine, Gold Dream settled in the rearward position, around fifth from last, and made bid after rounding the last two corners two wide and taking the outer route entering the lane. The son of Gold Allure responded readily to Ryan Moore's urging and produced an impressive late charge, breezing past tiring rivals and eventually the dueling two frontrunners nearing the wire before claiming a neck victory.
“It was a pleasure to ride the horse. He was a G1 winner already and he showed his class. He's won both the two main G1 races on dirt in Japan so he's rightly a champion. He had a lovely run. He was a little bit upset in the stall but he landed in a good spot, the race was very smooth for him and he showed good acceleration at the end. He's a very talented horse. It's a hard thing to do (to win both G1 dirt races in the same year) and hopefully, he can improve and win some more,” commented Ryan Moore.
Odds-on-favorite T M Jinsoku, who surged out from stall 13 to press the pace behind Copano Rickey in second, dueled strongly with the frontrunner in the stretch and, though managing to nail the front 50 meters out, was overtaken by Gold Dream in the last stride. “It was his first G1 attempt but he ran really well to the end and I thought we had won. He was able to show his best against G1 horses so I'm looking forward to his performances going forward,” commented Yoshihiro Furukawa.
Ninth pick Copano Rickey, rushing out from the innermost draw to set the pace, continued to hold on well in the lane and dueled strongly with the race favorite in the stretch but fell back in the last strides while also being overtaken by Gold Dream before the wire to finish a neck behind the runner-up in third. “We were able to set the pace in good rhythm and race in an ideal style,” said Hironobu Tanabe.
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