Rainbow Dahlia won the Queen Elizabeth II Commemorative Cup-Diamond Jubilee (Jpn-I) Nov. 11 at Kyoto, narrowly denying three-time Japan filly Triple Crown runner-up Verxina a breakthrough win.
Rainbow Dahlia battled 19-10 favorite Verxina down the stretch, but the 5-year-old Brian's Time mare powerfully surged in the final 100 meters to pass front-runner All That Jazz and hold back Verxina for a neck victory. Pixie Princess produced a strong rally from last to finish third, a head behind Verxina. All That Jazz faded to fifth in the 16-horse field.
Sent off the seventh wagering choice at 23-to-1 odds, Rainbow Dahlia was timed in 2:16.30 for 1 3/8 miles (2,200 meters) on yielding turf. She tallied her first group I victory in her seventh attempt, including a fifth-place finish to Snow Fairy in last year’s QE II Commemorative Cup.
Rainbow Dahlia is the first group I winner this season for elite Japanese sire Brian’s Time, a Darby Dan Farm-bred son of Roberto who at age 27 is still covering mares at Arrow Stud in Hokkaido. A multiple leading sire in Japan whose top offspring include 1993 Triple Crown winner Narita Brian, he also is represented this year by Kikuka Sho (Jpn-I Japanese St. Leger) runner-up Sky Dignity.
Ridden by Yoshitomi Shibata, Rainbow Dahlia settled near the back of the field and Verxina raced prominently early as Legend Blue, then Erin Court, led the way. All That Jazz seized the lead entering the stretch and Rainbow Dahlia made her winning move wide on the outside to engage Verxina at the top of the lane.
Verxina, facing older runners for the first time, extended her runner-up streak to five races, the four most recent to Gentildonna, who swept Japan’s classic series for fillies.
Rainbow Dahlia improved to six wins, four seconds, and seven thirds from 28 career starts for owner Yoshiko Tanaka.
Trainer Yoshitaka Ninomiya said before the QE II Commemorative Cup that Rainbow Dahlia, who is out of the winning Northern Taste mare Arome, was only getting better as she becomes older.
"She's far more relaxed than she used to be,” he said of the chestnut mare, who came into the race off a fourth-place finish after breaking widest of 17 in the Fuchu Himba Stakes (Jpn-II) Oct. 13. “She's aging really well, so to speak. When she races, she's now physically at ease but fired up mentally. She's in much better condition than she was a year ago, and what's really impressive is that she's still improving as a racehorse even at her age. There are some good ones this year, but we'll take it to them."