Meisho Samson, Japan's 3-year-old colt of the year in 2006, showed that he was back to his best with a hard fought nose victory in Sunday's Tenno Sho (Spring) (Jpn-I) contested over 3,200 meters at Kyoto racecourse.
The race was considered an open affair with Japanese punters sending Eye Popper out as favorite and Meisho Samson second choice. Delta Blues was the other horse given a major chance.
Run at an even pace, the expected front-runner Yumeno Shirushi led the field from outsider My Soul Sound. Of the favored runners, Delta Blues was closest to the lead with Yasunari Iwata ensuring he had plenty of galloping room. Meisho Samson sat midfield and leading Japanese jockey Katsumi Ando positioned Eye Popper towards the rear.
As the field began their descent down the hill from the 800-meter mark, Iwata made his move on Delta Blues and the horse ranged up to the lead. But Meisho Samson also moved up quickly and was traveling sweetly on the turn. Ando brought Eye Popper to the outside and began to make his run as well. As they came into the straight, Meisho Samson reached the lead and spurted away from the field.
Several horses came out of the pack to chase Meisho Samson, headed by the outsider Erimo Expire. He struggled to get out in the final straight, but quickly made ground on the leader. Tokai Trick came through the inside of the field and charged home. Ando’s Eye Popper was still a long way back but surging down the outside.
But Meisho Samson fought hard under vigorous urging from veteran jockey Mamoru Ishibashi and at the finish held off Erimo Expire by a nose. Tokai Trick made up plenty of ground but finished third, another neck away. Eye Popper left his run a bit too late to finish fourth another half-length away.
Yoshio Matsumoto owns Meisho Samson, who is trained by Shigetada Takahashi. Sunday's victory was Meisho Samson's third grade I win.