Orfevre wins the Kikuka Sho to take the Japan Triple Crown.

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Orfevre wins the Kikuka Sho to take the Japan Triple Crown.
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Kate Hunter

Orfevre Completes Japanese Triple Crown

Dominating colt becomes the first to accomplish feat since Deep Impact six years ago.

Orfevre became the seventh Japanese Triple Crown winner Oct. 23 when he registered a 2 1/2-length victory as a strong favorite in the $2.7 million Kikuka Sho (Jpn-I), or Japanese St. Leger, at Kyoto Racecourse.

His convincing performance, completing the first such sweep in Japan since Deep Impact six years ago, marked his fifth consecutive graded race victory and sixth win overall out of 10 career starts.

Reserved just off the hedge in mid-division by Kenichi Ikezoe, Orfevre launched his bid with less than 1,000 meters to run, taking control as the 18-horse field made its way into the home straight. Ikezoe, who has ridden the Stay Gold colt since his 2-year-old debut last year, guided Orfevre to a five-length advantage in the lane.

Second choice Win Variation, who turned in a tremendous effort after traveling well behind the field, loomed from between horses in the last 100 meters to belatedly close the margin while finishing 1 3/4 lengths in front of Tosen Ra in third.

Final time for the 3,000-meter event (about 1 7/8 miles) was 3:02.8 over firm going, just one-tenth of a second off the race mark established by Song of Wind in 2006. The Japanese Racing Association reported attendance of 68,289 at Kyoto.

Orfevre is the first Classic winner trained by Yasutoshi Ikee. The three-time JRA award trainer has saddled Dream Journey, a full brother to Orfevre, for three grade I victories between 2006 and 2009.

Ikee also made history together with Yasuo Ikee, former trainer of Deep Impact, in becoming the first father-son tandem to produce Triple Crown winners. Ikee was also assistant trainer when his father trained Orfevre’s sire, Stay Gold, between 1996 and 2001.

“I am both delighted and relieved to have won after all the pressure that we’ve been through,” commented Yasutoshi Ikee during the post race interview. “I will have to see how he recovers from this race but if all goes well, challenges in the Japan Cup (Jpn-I) or the Arima Kinen (Jpn-I) is definitely an option.”

Orfevre earlier won the Satsuki Sho (Jpn-I), or Japanese Two Thousand Guineas, and the Tokyo Yushun (Jpn-I), or Japanese Derby. He also has a pair of grade II victories to his credit in 2011.

Owned by Sunday Racing Co., the chestnut colt was bred by Shadai Corp. He is out of Oriental Art, by Mejiro McQueen.