Satono Aladdin landed his first G1 title by capturing this year's Yasuda Kinen as seventh favorite in a full field of 18 runners. A part of the Breeders' Cup Challenge “Win and You're In” series, the Yasuda Kinen victory earned Satono Aladdin an expenses-paid berth to the Breeders' Cup Mile this fall at Del Mar.
Following several acclaimed results at the graded level, the six-year-old bay son of Deep Impact notched his first grade-race win last year in the Keio Hai Spring Cup (G2, 1,400m). After finishing fourth in his next Yasuda Kinen start, the horse out of a daughter of Storm Cat successfully captured the Swan Stakes (G2, 1,400m) that autumn but was fifth in the G1 Mile Championship. He has been tested overseas twice, turning in an 11th and a seventh in the 2015 Hong Kong up and 2016 Hong Kong Mile, respectively.
“Being a horse with great expectation ever since his debut as a two-year-old, it's been a long way to finally prove his true ability with his first G1 victory this time and I am grateful to have been given the opportunity to train such a talented horse,” said trainer Yasutoshi Ikee. “He's had the potential all along but a G1 title was needed to justify that and I'm glad he did.
“Although his win is conditional—a good draw and a solid pace over a fast track—if given a chance he has never failed to execute his powerful finishing kick. His ninth-place finish in his last start in the Keio Hai Spring Cup had nothing to do with his condition but the slow pace and the soft going worked against him. I just prayed that the weather would be clear and the ground firm to guarantee a good race for Satono Aladdin. He showed a good late kick, and while I wasn't sure until I saw the finish replay, I was over the moon when his victory was confirmed. I hope to add to this victory with further success in his future starts—as for his possibility of overseas challenges, the options are there to be discussed with the owners.”
Lightly raced this season, Satono Aladdin finished ninth in his only start, the Keio Hai Spring Cup over a yielding track. His latest triumph being the Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas) this season with Al Ain, trainer Yasutoshi Ikee has now 18 JRA-G1 titles under his belt, while jockey Yuga Kawada claimed his ninth, his latest the Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby) last year with Makahiki. This is also Kawada's second Yasuda Kinen title following his 2015 victory with Maurice.
After the field broke with Logotype spurting to the front, Kawada kept Satono Aladdin in a rearward position traveling outside Red Falx and swung wide into the straight fourth from last. While the defending champion found another gear to expand his lead to three to four lengths climbing the Tokyo stretch hill, Satono Aladdin surged out of the rallying group at the furlong pole and showcased a spectacular and fastest stretch drive to catch Logotype at the wire for a neck victory.
“I thought he was a horse of great potential since I first rode him last season and I'm delighted to have proved that today,” jockey Yuga Kawada said. “He had a good draw today and everything went as planned—I concentrated on keeping him in a good rhythm and we had a perfect trip and I was able to take him wide for clear sailing—so I had every confidence in pinning the leader although Logotype was quite persistent—I knew that we had a good chance of winning the race.”
Sent off lightly regarded as eighth pick, Logotype was deprived of a back-to-back Yasuda Kinen title although he reenacted his powerful gate-to-wire run putting in a good runner-up effort.
Well reserved fourth from the rear on the rails, third favorite Red Falx found himself behind a wall of horses in early stretch, steered to the outside then found running room 300 meters out and furiously threatened the winner on his outside but was a neck short from Logotype for third.
After traveling in seventh and three-wide, race favorite Isla Bonita struggled to find room and was never given the chance to unleash his anticipated stretch charge finishing eighth.
Beauty Only broke well from stall 12 and rated mid-field two wide around 10th up to the last turn. Angling out slightly, he launched a mild rally between horses but was unable to sustain his bid once reaching the top of the uphill stretch while holding on well for a close sixth, about 1-3/4 length behind the winner.
“He didn't really kick home strong this time. He flattened out and leaning a bit to the left. It's his first time going left-handed and I think he needs a bit more experience to do this one, because I see at the straight he didn't change his gear, he usually changes to his near-fore kick where he's got more power but he didn't change because he was going opposite to what he's used to so, to me, he didn't kick home strong enough,” commented Anthony Cruz.
“He traveled smoothly but didn't have any left at the end. He was a bit nervous prior to the race and it was his first time out on this course so maybe that was what affected him,” said Zachary Purton.
In his second challenge, Hong Kong raider Contentment was rated close to the pace, met traffic at the top of the stretch and driven from the 400-meter marker but weakened after sustaining his bid up to the furlong pole and finished 10th.
“He put himself in a good position, in fourth or fifth where we thought or hoped he would be. He traveled nicely in the first half of the race, but on straightening up, he got a little bit of pressure from the outside, then from the inside, and what I heard from the jockey, he continued to fight but he wasn't strong enough for these horses on this track but said he could have finished a length closer. So unlike last year, at least I was able to see how he fared in the race and I'm satisfied,” commented John Size.
“He didn't disappoint me. He was trying his very best, but unfortunately he had these little issues that really could have changed the result of this race—I think he would have finished a little closer,” said Joao Moreira.
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