Kentucky-bred Testa Matta came from off the pace to register a two-length win in the $2.45 million February Stakes (Jpn-I) at Tokyo Racecourse Feb. 19.
The only American-bred horse in the 16-horse field, 6-year-old Testa Matta tallied at 24-1 odds with Yasunari Iwata aboard for trainer Akira Murayama and owner Kazumi Yoshida.
Waterford Farm (now Waterford-Millford Farm) of Midway, Ky., bred the bay son of Tapit who is out of the Concern mare Difficult. Testa Matta produced his first grade I score since taking the Japan Dirt Derby 2 1/2 years ago.
Testa Matta finished second in the 2010 February Stakes but missed last year's race with an illness. He returned with a victory in the March Stakes (Jpn-III) last spring. With the latest victory, Testa Matta has won six of 24 lifetime starts.
Iwata positioned Testa Matta well back early and off the rail as Sei Crimson led the 1,600-meter event (about one mile) at a brisk pace for six furlongs while tracked closely by Tosho Cousin, with Grand Prix Boss and Espoir City also close up. Transcend, the defending champion and race favorite, fell back soon after the start despite a smooth break but was rushed up to race among the leaders after a half-mile.
Rounding the turn for home, Testa Matta rallied on the outside to challenge Danon Come and Wonder Acute, who had advanced on the tiring leaders to get the advantage. Testa Motta took over with 200 meters to run and drew off to a comfortable advantage. Silk Fortune also came from far back to gain second, three-quarters of a length ahead of Wonder Acute. Transcend faded to seventh.
Final time was 1:35.4 over standard going.