Transcend in the Japan Cup Dirt.

Transcend in the Japan Cup Dirt.

Kate Hunter

No Catching Transcend in Japan Cup Dirt

Favored 4-year-old son of Wild Rush handles pressure for a neck victory at Hanshin.

Favored Transcend went gate to wire in spite of pressure to win the $3 million Japan Cup Dirt (Jpn-I) by a neck at Hanshin Racecourse Dec. 5.

The 4-year-old Japanese-bred son of Wild Rush defeated 15 rivals with Shinji Fujita aboard for 57-year-old trainer Takayuki Yasuda, who collected his first grade I win. It was also the initial grade I win for Transcend, who is owned by Koji Maeda.

Glorious Noah finished second, 1 1/4 lengths in front of Admire Subaru. Filly La Verita, the only American-bred horse in the field, finished seventh. There were no foreign competitors in this year's Japan Cup Dirt.

Transcend broke in stride and stepped a lively fast pace, taking pressure in the straight without ever giving up the lead. He was dogged from the start by 3-year-old colt Birdie Birdie, who gamely held his position before he was overtaken deep in the stretch drive by Glorious Noah. Admire Subaru, also rallying late, nosed Birdie Birdie for third.

“He was the favorite and I’m glad to have been able to live up to the expectations,” Fujita said of Transcend.

Transcend clocked 1:48.9 over the 1,800 meters (about nine furlongs) on a dirt track rated "good."

The race’s first 1,000 meters were covered in one minute flat, but Transcend refused to cave in. “Yes, there was some pressure, but he has the speed and handled it well,” Fujita said. “He has a huge stride and it didn’t feel fast for him. I thought the pace was a bit fast, but knew he could handle it.”

The winning bay colt is out of the Tony Bin mare Cinema Scope and was bred by North Hills Management in Hokkaido. Transcend is now seven for 13 in his career, having won a grade III event earlier this year.