Asia Express demonstrated his exceptional power in his first test on turf and going clockwise to score a comfortable 1-1/4-length victory in this year's Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes. Having just made his debut in November 3 at Tokyo Racecourse in a 1,400-meter dirt race, the US-bred chestnut quickly earned his qualification to run in the Two-Year-Old championship G1 with his second win, also at Tokyo, in the Oxalis Sho (dirt, 1,600m). His
trainer, Takahisa Tezuka claimed his third career G1 title and his second title in this race after saddling Alfredo (JPN, by Symboli Kris S) to victory in 2011—his other Grade 1 win was with Ayusan (JPN, by Deep Impact) in this year's Oka Sho (Japanese 1000 Guineas, 1,600m). The 2013 Two-Year-Old champion became the first Japanese G1 winner for sire Henny Hughes (USA, by Hennessy) who is due to begin stud service in Japan beginning next spring.
Ryan Moore registered his fourth JRA Grade 1 win and his second title at the highest level this season after guiding Gentildonna (JPN, by Deep Impact) to victory in the Japan Cup. The British jockey, who had also partnered with the Henny Hughes colt in his last start over dirt at Tokyo on November 23, expressed his amazement over his ability to handle both dirt and turf with equal strength and change of gears—“He surprised me—he quickened up so well. When I rode him before, he looked like he was a horse with lots of gears. He's a special horse, because not many do both dirt and grass. His future should be bright. He feels like he hasn't got to the bottom of it yet—like there's more to come—so it'll be interesting to see how much progress he makes.”
Asia Express bided his time along the rails in mid-field, moved up to secure space behind the front group after the third corner, accelerated impressively to contention from angling out for a clear path at the top of the stretch, rallying with two other foes while overtaking the tiring leader 100 meters out and then drew away for a clear victory.
Shonan Achieve handled his first test over 1,600 meters with class, finishing second from sitting mid-division in front of the eventual winner, then launching his bid after going wide around the last corner outside Win Full Bloom as the two made headway to rally, and continued to show effort to prevail by a neck for second while unable to keep up with the winner.
Win Full Bloom was always prominent while racing wide throughout, and still had enough left to keep in contention for third.
Race favorite Atom saved ground along the rails around seventh for most of the trip, had to wait for room as the field crowded going around the final turn and showed good speed to join the rally while unable to reach the leaders for fifth.
4th: (4) Meiner Diavel—saved ground in 3rd, showed tenacity and held well
6th: (16) Shonan Wadachi—was off slow, showed good effort while losing ground
7th: (13) Pray and Real—keen early while racing wide in 4th, ran gamely until 150m out then weakened
8th: (5) Satono Rob Roy—settled in mid-pack, one paced
9th: (10) Gris Sage—raced near rear, showed belated charge on outer stretch
10th: (1) Bel Canto—set pace and maintained bid until last 100m but quickly faded thereafter
11th: (9) Twinkle Sword—hugged rail toward rear, unable to respond when needed
12th: (15) Higher Rate—ran outside winner, failed to respond while turning wide
13th: (12) Apollo Stars—traveled toward rear, angled out, even paced
14th: (8) Nishino Dangerous—raced in mid-division, unable to reach contention
15th: (7) El Camino Real—keen early and chased leader, used up after final turn and faded
16th: (2) T M Kyuko—trailed in rear, no factor
Fractional Time (sec./furlong): 12.7 – 11.0 – 11.4 – 11.7 – 11.8 – 12.2 – 11.8 – 12.1
Last 4 furlongs: 47.9 Last 3 furlongs: 36.1
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