(from Japan Racing Association report)
Favored Sleepless Night scored a sharp 1 1/4-length victory in Japan's $1.76 million Sprinters Stakes (Jpn-I) at Nakayama Racecourse Oct. 5, for her fifth consecutive victory.
The race was the sixth in the Global Sprint Challenge and puts Sleepless Night, a 4-year-old filly trained by Kojiro Hashiguchi for owner Sunday Racing Co., on target for the final race of the series, the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Sprint (HK-I) on Dec. 14.
Jockey Hiroyuki Uemura earned his first grade I win as Sleepless Night held off runner-up Kinshasa no Kiseki, who went off as the second choice in the 15-horse field, and and third-place finisher B B Guldan for the victory.
Sleepless Night completed the six-furlong turf event in 1:08 flat.
“I’ve managed to come this far because of Mr. Hashiguchi and I can’t thank him enough,” said the 34-year-old Uemura, tears in his eyes. “He gave me the opportunity to ride Sleepless Night. I just tried not to worry about anything because it wouldn’t do the horse any good.”
Hashiguchi, who was celebrating his 63rd birthday, said he could not have asked for a bigger gift than for his new star to emerge in such an important race.
“There has been a lot of pressure on me in the past week, so this result is great,” he said. “I had no concerns with her, physically, but this is the Sprinters Stakes. A bad start or a single mistake can cost you.”
B B Guldan came home a neck behind the runner-up. Suzuka Phoenix, the 2007 Takamatsunomiya Kinen champion, took fourth while the winner of that race this year, Fine Grain, slipped to 10th.
Sleepless Night collected 10 points in the Global Sprint Challenge with two races remaining in the series. Former Sprinters Stakes champion Takeover Target currently leads the competition with 16 points, three points ahead of Kingsgate Native and five points ahead of Marchand d'Or. Four horses – Apache Cat, Equiano, Kanoya Zakura and now Sleepless Night – are tied on 10 points.
The seventh race of the series, the Patinack Farm Classic at Flemington, will be held on Nov. 8.
“I don’t think there is a lot left for her, domestically,” Hashiguchi said. “The Hong Kong Sprint is an option. I’m also thinking Dubai because she can handle the dirt. But there’s no question she’s a specialist at 1,200 meters.”
Under fair skies in Chiba Prefecture, the race opened with long-shot Western Venus jumping out to the lead along the backstretch, followed by M O Winner, Apollo Dolce and B B Guldan just to the outside. Sleepless Night shadowed B B Giuidan, patiently waiting for the final turn to arrive.
“The only concern I had was the start,” Uemura said. “But she broke well and everything worked out. I waited and waited until the last turn, and she just exploded on the straight."
Bred by Northern Farm, Sleepless Night is by Kurofune out of What Katy Did. She has won nine of 16 starts.