Last year's Japanese sprint champion Curren Chan returned to form March 25 when she captured the $2.47 million Takamatsunomiya Kinen (Jpn-I) at newly renovated Chukyo Racecourse by a neck over San Carlo.
Chukyo Racecourse outside of Nagoya reopened earlier this month after nearly two years of renovation. More than 43,000 were reported in attendance March 25 by the Japanese Racing Association.
Curren Chan, a 5-year-old mare who was sent off as the second choice in the field of 18, won last year's Sprinters Stakes (Jpn-I). Takashi Suzuki's daughter of Kurofune now owns victories in the nation's two most important sprint events.
Ridden by Kenichi Ikezoe for trainer Takayuki Yasuda, Curren Chan was sent off as the second choice in the Takamatsunomiya Kinen, which is the second leg of the Global Sprint Challenge. She ran fourth in her most recent start, the Ocean Stakes (Jpn-III).
Curren Chan broke well as the 1,200-meter grass event (about six furlongs) got underway to press an aggressive pace set by A Shin Duck Man. She made her move as the field swung for home, accelerating through the newly added uphill climb at Chukyo. The winner repelled challenges from race favorite Lord Kanaloa from the inside and Dasher Go Go on her outside, then dug deep in the final strides to prevail over San Carlo, who was charging late on the far outside. Final time was 1:10.3 over a firm course.
San Carlo, runner-up in last year's Takamatsunomiya Kinen, ran second again as the third pick of the public. Lord Kanaloa, whose five-race win streak came to an end, was a half-length farther back in third and a neck better than multiple graded winner Dasher Go Go.
Bred in Japan by Shadai Farm, Curren Chan is the third female to win the Takamatsunomiya Kinen (following Flower Park in 1996 and Believe in 2003) and the fifth horse to capture both the Sprinters Stakes and the Takamatsunomiya Kinen. She is out of Spring Ticket, by Tony Bin.
Her trainer, Yasuda, plans to run Transcend in the upcoming Dubai World Cup (UAE-I).
In addition to the Sprinters Stakes, Curren Chan won the Hanshin Himba Stakes (Jpn-II), the Keeneland Cup (Jpn-III), and the Hakodate Sprint Stakes (Jpn-III) last year.