Gold Ship won the Satsuki Sho (Jpn-I), or Japanese Two Thousand Guineas April 15 at Nakayama Racecourse, a year after the Great East Japan Earthquake forced the race to be moved to Tokyo.
The Satsuki Sho, at 2,000 meters (about 1 1/4 miles) on turf, is the first of three Japanese Triple Crown classics. It was held for the 72nd time.
Large sections of the grandstand at Nakayama were damaged in last year's quake. The 2011 race, switched to Tokyo Racecourse, was won by Orfevre, who went on to become the nation's seventh Triple Crown winner.
Orfevre and Gold Ship share the same Japanese sire, Stay Gold, and the same broodmare sire, Mejiro McQueen.
Sent off as the fourth choice in a field of 18 3-year-olds, Gold Ship won by 2 1/2 lengths over second favorite World Ace. He completed the race in 2:01.3 over good going before a crowd of 60,613 at the repaired racetrack.
Hiroyuki Uchida rode Gold Ship to victory for trainer Naosuke Sugai and owner/breeder Eiichi Kobayashi. The gray colt is out of Point Flag.
Gold Ship settled at the rear of the pack early for Uchida, just behind World Ace and favored Grandezza. With most of the contenders taking the outer route to avoid the somewhat worn turf areas in the final two bends, Uchida steered the advancing Gold Ship through on the inside to take the lead 200 meters out. Stay Gold did the rest, unleashing a powerful burst to pull away for a clear victory.
World Ace, recovering after stumbling at the beginning of the race, displayed an impressive late kick as well while taking the widest route through the last corner. He came on in the final strides to cross the wire second, three-quarters of a length in front of Deep Brillante, who nosed Cosmo Ozora for third. Grandezza, who also took a wide route through the last corners, finished fifth, beaten by 4 1/2 lengths.
The victory was the second in a row for Gold Ship, who won the Kyodo News Service Hai (Jpn-III) in February.