The first jewel of Japan's Triple Crown went to the fans' No. 1 choice, as Agnes Tachyon took the Satsukisho (Jpn-I) by 1 1/2 lengths April 15 at Nakayama Race Course. Agnes Tachyon (Sunday Silence--Agnes Flower, by Royal Ski) clocked 2:00.30 over the 2,000 meters of very firm turf, netting ¥97 million ($781,313 U.S.) for owner Takao Watanabe.
Dantsu Flame (Brian's Time--Inter Pyrenee, by Sanquirico) crossed the line in second place, easily holding off Jungle Pocket (Tony Bin--Dance Charmer, by Nureyev).
Odds sank to the basement days before the race as the three-for-three Agnes Tachyon emerged as the 3-year-old to beat. Almost 60% of the money placed to win went on Agnes Tachyon, another 20% on Jungle Pocket, and the rest scattered indifferently across the full-gate, all-male field of 18.
The classic got off to a smooth start, pulled along at a moderate pace by Sure Happiness. Two incidents of interference involving Born King at both turns were later to delay the final decision by over 15 minutes, but were judged to have had no affect on the race outcome.
Out of the gate, veteran rider Hiroshi Kawachi immediately moved Agnes Tachyon to an uncharacteristically forward fifth position, where he held him to the straight, rounding wide and gaining the front by the 200-meter mark.
Jungle Pocket, who had advanced confidently around the final bend on the far outside, made a brief appearance in second position at the top of the straight but was scared back by a charging Dantsu Flame. Kawachi had no need to apply the whip, as the long-striding Agnes Tachyon sped home.
"There were big expectations and a lot of pressure but somehow we did it," a subdued and tired-looking Kawachi said. "It was a bit rough though, especially at the first turn. Something about him today wasn't quite right."
With the win, the 46-year-old Kawachi, after 28 years of riding, became the fifth rider in Japanese racing history to win all five 3-year-old classics.
Kawachi won the Derby last year aboard Tachyon's older brother, Agnes Flight. He had also ridden both the dam and granddam of both colts to grade I victories.
Agnes Tachyon was bred at Shadai Farm in Hokkaido. He is trained by the Ritto-based Hiroyuki Nagahama.