Yutaka Take became Japan's first jockey to win 100 grade or group I races when he guided Tosen Ra to victory in the Mile Championship (Jpn-I) Nov. 17 at Kyoto.
The Deep Impact half brother to 2005 Travers Stakes (gr. I) winner and Central Kentucky sire Flower Alley scored by one length after Take brought him from near the back of the 18-horse field in upper stretch and urged a sweeping outside rally. Tosen Ra ran down runner-up Daiwa Maggiore and favored Danon Shark 50 meters out and surged clear for a one-length victory.
Tosen Ra, second choice at odds of 9-2, completed the 1,600 meters in 1:32.40 while making his first start at distance. The 5-year-old had previously racing primarily in the 2,000 (1 1/4-mile) to 3,200-meter (two-mile) range with no start shorter than 1,800 meters (1 1/8 miles).
Daiwa Maggiore attended the early tempo set by Copano Richard and dispatched the pacesetter 100 meters out for a short-lived lead. Danon Shark, the 7-2 pick, raced between horses entering the straight and rallied behind Daiwa Maggiore before finishing third, three-quarters of a length behind the runner-up.
Tosen Ra scored his first group I victory for owner Takaya Shimakawa and trainer Hideaki Fujiwara and halted a three-race winless streak dating from his victory in the Kyoto Kinen (Jpn-III) in February. He finished second to Fenomemo in the Tenno Sho (Spring) (Jpn-I) in April and entered the Mile Championship off a third in the Kyoto Daishoten (Jpn-II) Oct. 6. He has placed second or third five other group stakes, including his third to Japanese Triple Crown winner Orfevre in the 2011 Kikuka Sho (Jpn-I, Japanese St. Leger).
"The horse was really strong and ran a great race," Take said of Tosen Ra. "He responded impressively when urged at the top of the stretch. He was in good form and everything seemed to fit in well for this victory."
Take, an 18-time champion rider, came into the race as Japan's all-time leading jockey with 3,584 wins. The Mile Championship marked his second at the group I level this season after teaming with Kizuna to capture the Tokyo Yushun (Jpn-I, Japanese Derby).
"I am very pleased to be able to achieve this milestone of 100th career group I win, but I hope to capture more titles in the future," Take said.
Tosen Ra is out of winning Lycius mare Princess Olivia. She was sold to breeder Shadai Farm for $825,000 at the 2005 Keeneland November breeding stock sale following wins that season by Flower Alley in the Travers, Jim Dandy Stakes (gr. II), and Lane's End Stakes (gr. II), and a runner-up finish in the Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I). She also is the dam of Japanese stakes winner Spielberg, by Deep Impact, and Blooming Alley, a Symboli Kris S. filly, who is group III-placed in Japan.
Flower Alley stands at Three Chimneys Farm in Midway, Kentucky. The 11-year-old son of Distorted Humor is the sire of 2012 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and Preakness Stakes (gr. I) victor and champion 3-year-old male I'll Have Another, who stood his first season this year at Big Red Farm in Japan.
Tosen Ra is from the first crop of two-time Japanese Horse of the Year Deep Impact, who has 30 group winners among 36 stakes winners from four crops racing. The 11-year-old son of Sunday Silence was Japan's leading sire last year and stands Shadai Stallion Station in Hokkaido.