Sunrise Bacchus, a son of Hennessy with several grade I placings over the dirt course at Tokyo, finally broke through for a well deserved win in the February Stakes (Jpn-I) held at Fuchu racecourse Sunday in front of a crowd of more than 50,000 people.
Sunrise Bacchus, a 5-year-old horse, is out of the Real Shadai mare Real Sapphire and is trained by Hidetaka Otonashi. He is owned by Takao Matsuoka and was bred by Yanagawa Bokujo. The win was the second February Stakes victory for jockey Katsumi Ando, who previously won on Admire Don in 2004, and it was the first win at grade I level in Japan for the progeny of Hennessy.
Ando, the leading Japanese jockey, placed Sunrise Bacchus midfield in the early stages of the 1,600-meter dirt event after missing the start, while outsiders Daiwa Bandit and Tosho Shana O went together to set up a very fast pace in front. The two favored runners, Seeking the Dia, with champion jockey Yutaka Take on board, and Blue Concorde sat towards the back of the field waiting to make their run in the straight.
The first two horses to challenge the leaders at the top of the long Fuchu straight were Seeking the Best and 7-year-old mare Meisho Battler with Olivier Peslier on board. However they were overwhelmed almost immediately when Ando asked Sunrise Bacchus for his effort. They stormed to the front at the 300-meter mark and put a few lengths on the field. It was enough to win it by 1 1/2 lengths in a time of 1:34.8.
The time was just one-tenth of a second off the track record set in this race by Meisho Bowler in 2005.
Blue Concorde made up a lot of ground to clearly take second place at the finish, and outsider Big Grass ran on solidly to just grab third. Seeking the Dia never threatened and eventually finished ninth.