Takover Target Takes Japan's Sprinters Stakes

(from Japanese Racing Association report)
Takeover Target romped to the second Global Sprint Challenge title on Sunday, the Joseph Janiak-trained gelding winning the Sprinters Stakes (Jpn-I) at Nakayama Racecourse.

Favored Takeover Target hit the wire 2 1/2 lengths ahead of Yuichi Fukunaga's runner-up Meisho Bowler to cement his Sprint Challenge victory, collecting 20 points for a total of 53 points with one race remaining.

Target can cash in a $1 million bonus if he wins the Hong Kong Sprint (HK-I) Dec. 10, which would give him three group I wins in three different countries.

"I knew he was 110 percent fit; I knew he'd give 110 percent because that's what it would take to win this race because he's up against the best," Janiak said during the post-race press conference.

"As it turned out, the jockey put in a 110 percent ride and, all in all, it turned out nice for us."

Jockey Jay Ford turned in a bold performance aboard the 7-year-old Australian entry, jousting with inaugural Sprint Challenge champion Silent Witness for the lead early on and never looking back down the straight to tip the clock at 1:08.1 for 1,200 meters.

"I'm very excited," said Ford, who handed Target his 13th victory in 23 starts. "It's good to see the horse come out, everyone seeing him at his best. The horse raced fantastic, and he showed that, at the end of the day, he was too strong."

Hong Kong hero Silent Witness came in fourth after a photo finish with third-place finisher Tagano Bastille. Benbaun, another gelding, rounded out the board in fifth.

"He's on his way back," said Witness' trainer Tony Cruz, whose horse remains without a single win in five races this year.

Target and Witness set a furious first-half pace, clocking :32.7 seconds through the first three furlongs. The winner rounded the final bend in front but showed no signs of slowing down, even on the Nakayama hill.