The Sunday Silence-sired filly Believe extended her winning streak to four and notched her first grade I win with a victory in the Sprinters Stakes at Niigata Racecourse Sept. 29.
Yutaka Take, just back from riding in France, guided the 4-year-old race favorite to the win by half a length over this spring's Yasuda Memorial champ Admire Cozzene (Cozzene--Admiral McArdy, by Northern Taste) in a time of 1:07.7 over 1,200 meters of fast turf.
Believe's win was a posthumous feather in the cap to her sire, whose progeny had captured all the top-level Japanese races except for the two sprints, the Takamatsunomiya Memorial and the Sprinters Stakes. The latter, moved this year to the Niigata venue from Nakayama near Tokyo, gave the Japan Sea coastal city its first grade I race ever and helped draw its second-largest crowd.
Third pick Shonan Kampf, winner of the spring's top sprint, took the lead from the gate as expected, followed by race second choice Admire Cozzene, back on the track for the first time in nearly four months. Take, well aware the frontrunners were no faders, took Believe to the fore, keeping pace in third position. Into the stretch, the three broke away from the rest of the 11-strong field by a good four lengths.
The Niigata crowd of over 34,000 thrilled to the three-way show of strength as the trio battled down the stretch with Shonan Kampf and Admire Cozzene neck-and-neck. Take, about to bring Believe up to split the two, abruptly changed course when he saw the gap closing, moved to the rail and into the lead with less than 100 meters to go. Admire Cozzene edged Shonan Kampf out of second five strides out. Divine Light finished in fourth place four lengths behind Shonan Kampf. Golden Rodrigo followed in fifth.
Believe (Sunday Silence--Great Christine, by Danzig) is trained by Ritto-based Shigeki Matsumoto and was bred at Uemizu Bokujo in Mukawa, Hokkaido. Her eight wins in 20 starts has brought owner Koji Maeda over ¥262 million in prize money. No foreign-based entrants took part in this year's Sprinters Stakes.