Epiphaneia Finally Gets Japanese Classic Win

Epiphaneia Finally Gets Japanese Classic Win
Photo: Masakazu Takahashi
Epiphaneia wins the Kikua Sho (Japanese St. Leger).
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Runner-up in the first two jewels of Japan's Triple Crown earlier this year, regally bred Epiphaneia broke through for a classic win in smashing style in the Kikuka Sho (Jpn-I, Japanese St. Leger) Oct. 20 at Kyoto.
 
The 8-5 favorite, the Symboli Kris S colt out of Japanese champion Cesario romped away to a five-length victory in the 3,000-meter (about 1 7/8-mile) stamina test that is the final jewel of the classic series.
 
Epiphaneia was second by a half-length to Logotype in the Satsuki Sho (Jpn-I, Japanese Two Thousand Guineas) in April and to Kizuna by the same margin in the Tokyo Yushun (Jpn-I, Japanese Derby) in May. In the Kikuka Sho, he tracked Irish-bred pacesetter Bande and Neko Taisho early over the rain-soaked ground before making his winning move 400 meters out, and putting daylight between himself and the rest of the field in a visually impressive triumph.
 
Satono Noblesse, the 19-1 fifth choice, rallied from midfield to run down 11-1 third favorite Bande in the final strides and outfinished him by a neck for second in the 18-horse field. 
 
Majesty Hearts, second to Epiphaneia in the Kobe Shimbun Hai St. Leger Trial (Jpn-II) Sept. 22 in the previous start for both, failed to quickened when called upon and finished 13th as the 8-1 second favorite.
 
Neither Guineas winner Logotype nor Derby winner Kizuna was entered in the Kikuka Sho. Kizuna most recently took on some of the world's best horses and finished fourth in the Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (Fr-I) earlier this month at Longchamp. Logotype is indefinitely on the sidelines to recover from a severe case of exhaustion after running in the Sapporo Kinen (Jpn-II) in August.
 
Ridden by Yuichi Fukunaga for trainer Katsuhiko Sumii, Epiphaneia finished the Kikuka Sho in 3:05.20 to improve his record to five wins and two seconds in eight career starts for owner U Carrot Farm. He was bred by Northern Farm.
 
"He ran a perfect race," Fukunaga told the Japan Times. "He was so calm prior to the start that I was worried he might not leave the gate on time. But he started well, and we knew which two horses were going to set the pace so all I had to do was focus on settling him."
 
The victory was especially memorable for all Epiphaneia's connections. Northern Farm bred and U Carrot Farm campaigned Epiphaneia's dam, 2005 Yushun Himba (Jpn-I, Japanese Oaks) winner Cesario. She is best remembered in the United States for trouncing America's best female 3-year-old turf runners the 2005 American Oaks Invitational Stakes (gr. IT) under Fukunaga at Hollywood Park.
 
The win marked an important breakthrough for Japan's breeding industry as she became the first Japanese-bred to win a grade I race in the U.S. Sumii also was the trainer of Cesario, a Special Week filly who was honored as Japan's champion 3-year-old filly that season.
 
Epiphaneia is from the sixth crop of Symboli Kris S, a two-time Horse of the Year in Japan who stands at Shadai Stallion Station in Hokkaido.  

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