(From a Japanese Racing Association report)
Favored Danon Chantilly proved himself Japan’s top 3-year-old miler with an impressive win in the 15th running of the NHK Mile Cup (Jpn-I), shaving a full second off the stakes mark at Tokyo Racecourse May 9.
A fast pace helped Danon Chantilly cover the 1,600 meters (about one mile) of turf in 1:31.4, eclipsing the previous record of 1:32.4 set only last year by Jo Cappuccino.
A Shin Duck Man set a blistering pace for the field of 18 over fast turf, and the runners spread out unusually long for a mile event. Veteran rider Katsumi Ando refused to let either the heated pace or summerlike temperatures affect his cool. He managed to keep the rather hot-headed Danon Chantilly, breaking from the No. 13 slot and running with his tongue tied down, moving relaxed only three from the rear. There he waited for the final turn to make his move.
Keeping to the far outside, Ando straightened Danon Chantilly into the stretch and with 400 meters to go let the dark bay fly. Gaining steadily on second pick Sunrise Prince, now in the lead and followed closely by Daiwa Barbarian and L’Ile d’Aval, Danon Chantilly charged. But with 200 meters left, Danon Chantilly was still four from the front; with 100 to go Sunrise Prince lost the lead to Daiwa Barbarian. Danon Chantilly, who is trained by Kunihide Matsuda, took over with eight strides to go and drew away.
Ando admitted the fast pace had given him some concern.
“I knew that he had the ability to come from any position and win, but the high pace with us quite far off the lead had me a little worried," the jockey said. “The draw being what it was, however, I had planned on going wide. If there was no interference I knew he had the kind of finishing power to win."
With the win, Danon Chantilly will be among the favorites for the Tokyo Yushun, or Japanese Derby (Jpn-I), May 30. His come-from-behind effort pushed expectations sky-high for a replay of the NHK Mile Cup-to-Tokyo Yushun landed by the King Kamehameha-Ando combo in 2004. King Kamehameha also was trained by Matsuda.
With an eye to doing it again, Ando said, “It’s 2,400 meters next and he is an excitable horse, best suited to the mile, but with today’s strong showing, I think we can take on the challenge with confidence.”
It was the second career win of the NHK Mile Cup for the 50-year-old Ando.
For Matsuda, 59, it was the 12th win of a grade I race and his third in the NHK Mile Cup. Danox Co. owns Danon Chantilly, who previously captured the Mainichi Hai (Jpn-III) this year and has won three of five races in his career.
The Fuji Kiseki- sired Danon Chantilly, out of the Mark of Esteem mare Chansonnette, was bred at Darley Japan Farm in Hokkaido. It was the Darley operation’s first win of a JRA top-level race.