Hiruno d'Amour wins the Emporer's Cup Spring.

Hiruno d'Amour wins the Emporer's Cup Spring.

Kate Hunter

Hiruno d'Amour Prevails in Tenno Sho Spring

Upset winner matches sire Manhattan Cafe, who captured the 3,200-meter event in 2002.

Hiruno d'Amour completed a father-son double in the $3.2 million Tenno Sho Spring (Jpn-I) May 1 at Kyoto Racecourse, matching his sire Manhattan Cafe while landing his first grade I by a half-length over Eishin Flash.

Manhattan Cafe won the 3,200-meter grass race (about two miles) in 2002.

Racing a distance exceeding 3,000 meters for the second time since the Japanese St. Leger (Jpn-I) last year, Hiruno d’Amour had plenty left for the homestretch after saving ground most of the way. The bay colt exploded into gear along a clear path, pulling away in the final strides to defeat 2010 Japan Derby (Jpn-I) winner Eishin Flash.

The final time was 3:20.6 over good going, more than seven seconds off the race mark set by Deep Impact in 2006.

Shinji Fujita guided Hiruno d’Amour to victory for owner Masafumi Hirukawa and trainer Mitsugu Kon. Hashimoto Bokujo bred the winner, who is out of the Lammtarra mare Share Elegance.

The winning colt, sent off as the seventh choice in the field of 18, has shown improved form in his 4-year-old campaign, winning two of four graded races so far this season and finishing in the money in the other two.

Hiruno d’Amour saved ground in fifth as Gestalt broke sharply to set the pace three wide. Race favorite To the Glory was close up in fourth while 2010 Japan Cup (Jpn-I) winner Rose Kingdom raced in mid-division along with Eishin Flash.

Gestalt led the first time around but was overtaken by Cosmo Helenos who accelerated for the lead from the outside. To the Glory continued to press the pace and was in command before the backstretch on the second lap.

Nearing the third corner, Namura Crescent rallied along the outside at a flying pace to hit the front with 1,200 meters to go, securing the inside route coming into the homestretch. He maintained the lead until Hiruno d’Amour unleashed a powerful charge from between rivals with Eishin Flash close at his heels from the outside. Both horses overtook the leader 100 meters out with Hiruno d’Amour prevailing in a spirited drive.

Namura Crescent finished third, 1 1/2 lengths behind third choice Eishin Flash. Rose Kingdom and To the Glory both faded, finishing 11th and 13th, respectively. There were two European-bred horses in the race: France's Gentoo was ninth and Ireland's Cosmo Meadow was injured and did not finish.

Hiruno d’Amour won for the fourth time in 14 lifetime races.