Front-running Eishin Deputy held off favored Meisho Samson by a head to win the $2.4 million Takarazuka Kinen at Osaka's Hanshin Racecourse June 29 in the final grade I race on the Japanese Racing Association spring calendar.

Hiroyuki Uchida used a strong hand to guide the 11-1 upsetter to victory in the 2,200-meter turf event (about 1 3/8 miles). The 6-year-old French Deputy horse refused to give in to Meisho Samson and jockey Yutaka Take, who continued to close in on the winner all the way down the straight. For Uchida, riding Eishin Deputy, it was his first grade I win.

In wet and humid conditions before a crowd of about 55,000, Eishin Deputy jumped straight to the lead and traveled well over the soft going, maintaining at least a one-length through most of the race. Second favorite Roc de Cambes was keen to keep the leader in his sights throughout the race, sitting second through the middle stages. Take gradually angled Meisho Samson, the 2-1 choice, to the outside of the field from his inside draw and settled midfield.

When the pace picked up with about 800 meters to go, Uchida had a very good hold of his mount in front while Roc de Cambes was not traveling as well. Take brought Meisho Samson to the outside of the leading pack and gradually gained.

Eishin Deputy kept finding plenty in the straight. Although Meisho Samson kept the pressure on, he could not close the final gap as Eishin Deputy held on.

The connections for Meisho Samson, valiant in defeat, are planning to tackle the Prix de L’Arc Triomphe (Fr-I) later in the year.

Outsider Inti Raimi made plenty of ground along the inside of the field and was only a neck away in third place. The time was 2:15.3 on a course officially rated slow.

Eishin Deputy is out of the Woodman mare Eishin McAllen, and was bred by Eishin Bokujo. He is owned by Toyomitsu Hirai and trained by Akira Nomoto. Eishin Deputy, coming off a grade II win May 31, was victorious for the 10th time in 27 starts.

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