Gentildonna's tuneup for the $5 million Dubai Sheema Classic (UAE-I) next month was foiled in the starting gate as the jittery star mare was sapped before the Kyoto Kinen (Jpn-II) began Feb. 16 at Kyoto Racecourse.
In finishing sixth, about 2 1/2 lengths behind winner Desperado in the 2,200-meter (about 1 3/8-mile) turf race, Gentildonna was off the board for only the second time in her illustrious 14-race career.
"She couldn't run her race today because before the starting gates opened she dived under the barrier," jockey Yuichi Fukunaga told Racing Post about the 8-5 favorite.
"I then had to get her to relax but couldn't feel her power when we rounded the home turn. She fought well at the finish though."
Gentildonna raced in third early, under a snug hold, as Desperado grabbed a clear early lead and set the tempo. She advanced to his flank around the far turn, but lacked a finishing kick into the stretch and faded.
In her first start in four months after she won the 2012 Japan Cup (Jpn-I), Gentildonna headed to last year's Dubai Sheema Classic as the nation's Horse of the Year and finished a well-beaten second to St Nicholas Abbey
Trainer Sei Ishizaka, who trains the 5-year-old Deep Impact mare for Sunday Racing Co., believed a prep was in order ahead of this year's edition of the 2,410-meter (about 1 1/2-mile) race at Meydan after she tallied a historic second win in Japan's signature race Nov. 24 at Tokyo.
At 34-1 odds, Yoshimi Ichikawa's Desperado won the Kyoto Kinen by three-quarters of a length from Tosen Ra
while adding a second group II win to his record in a dominating performance. The son of Neo Universe was
seventh to Orfevre
in the Arima Kinen (Jpn-I) Dec. 22 at Nakayama in his previous start. He will be pointed to the Tenno Sho (Spring) (Jpn-I) May 4 at Kyoto.
Ridden by Norihiro Yokoyama for trainer Akio Adachi, Desperado was timed in 2:16 flat. He was bred in Japan by Hiroyuki Tanaka.
Group I winner Tosen Ra, last year's Kyoto Kinen victor and the 3-1 second choice, outfinished French-bred Uncoiled by 1 1/4 lengths for second in the 12-horse field.