(from Japanese Racing Association report)
Captain Thule went to the lead and never looked back, comfortably winning the US$1,606,000 Satsuki Sho (Jpn-I), or Japanese Two Thousand Guineas, in an upset before 67,401 at Nakayama Racecourse April 20.
The Hideyuki Mori-trained Captain Thule, sent off as the seventh favorite in a field of 18 3-year-old colts, reached the wire 2 1/2 lengths ahead of runner-up Take Mikazuchi at odds of 17-1. The winning time for the 2,0000-meter grass test (about 10 furlongs) was 2:01.7 on a turf course labeled firm.
Favorite Meiner Charles was nosed for second by Take Mikazuchi.
The first two finishers are owned by Shadai Race Horse and bred by Shadai Farm.
Jockey Yuga Kawada won the first Classic race of his career, while Mori picked up his second Satsuki Sho victory following his 2000 win with Air Shakur. Both jockey and trainer said a plan was always in the works to get Captain Thule to run an aggressive race.
“There wasn’t a genuine pacesetter in the field, so I had every intention of pushing him toward the front,” Kawada said. “He responded well throughout the trip, and I’m glad things turned out well.
“I just wanted to be aggressive. He trains hard during workouts, but doesn’t bring the same edge in races for some reason, so I wanted to make sure he got his work in.”
Added Mori: “I told the jockey he’d get caught if he waited for the race to come to him, so I told him to take the initiative. And he never looked back after the last turn. On heavy turf like today, it pays to be lightweight. If the conditions were good, I think the ones who like to come from behind would have come on late.
“He’s a very complete horse, capable of keeping up at any pace," Mori said.
While the turf was listed as firm, the actual conditions were not. A downpour over the weekend had cut up the track, giving the edge to front-runners.
Captain Thule, who drew the No. 6 post, broke well and was able to establish a slow first half of the race, completing the opening 1,000 meters in 1:01.4.
Heading into the final turn, Kawada said he knew he had won the race.
“I looked over to the big screen and I was kind of surprised to see myself so far ahead,” Kawada said. “I didn’t hear any footsteps from behind so it was all good. I didn’t sense anyone from the outside, and he was running well. I could tell by the reaction of the crowd that I had this one.”
Kawada said he is not concerned about the extra two furlongs Captain Thule will have to cover in the second leg of the triple crown—the Tokyo Yushun (Jpn-I), the Japanese Derby, at Tokyo Racecourse next month.
“Judging by today, he could have kept going after the finish. I don’t know what the extra two furlongs will do to this horse, but I’ll have to come up with something,” he said.
Captain Thule, by Agnes Tachyon out of Air Thule, has won three of seven races in his career.