Deep Impact Smashes Record in Tenno Sho

(from Japan Racing Association report)
Deep Impact, Japan's 2005 Horse of the Year, justified his 1-10 price with a record-smashing win in the Tenno Sho (Spring) (Jpn-I) at 3,200 meters (1.98 miles) at Kyoto racecourse Sunday.

Deep Impact, returning to action after a magnificent 3-year-old season in which he won his country's Triple Crown, was expected to win. But it was the manner in which he toyed with his rivals while taking a full second off the track record that will be remembered by the crowd of more than 90,000.

After missing the start to be a conspicuous last after going 50 meters, champion jockey Yutaka Take made certain that Deep Impact settled well in the early stages of the race. The field was led by outsider Blue Tornade, with Tokai Trick sitting outside him early. Second favorite Lincoln raced mid-pack and Deep Impact gradually made ground around the field as they entered the back straight of the course for the second time. With approximately 1,000 meters to go, Take gave Deep Impact a little bit more rein, and it was soon clear that Take was going to let the champion horse make his move very early.

As the field began their descent down the hill at the 800-meter mark, Take and Deep Impact strode up five-wide around the field. At the 600-meter point, Deep Impact was clearly in front. As he swung into the straight, Lincoln tried to give chase to the favorite, but Take shook up Deep Impact, and in a flash the race was all over as the champion came home 3 1/2 lengths in front. Lincoln battled on well for second, and Australian jockey Glenn Boss brought Stratagem down the outside to finish third.

The top three were all sired by champion stallion Sunday Silence, who had four runners in the race.

A huge roar went up as Deep Impact won in a drive, but soon after the finish another roar went up. The race time, 3:13.4, demolished the previous mark of 3:14.4 registered by Mayano Top Gun when winning this race in 1997. Not only that, but his closing fraction was :44.8 for the final 800 meters and an amazing :33.5 for the last 600 meters - unheard of in a 3,200-meter race.

Deep Impact, who earned his fourth grade I victory, is owned by Kaneko Makoto Holdings Co. Ltd., and trained by Yasuo Ikee.

Deep Impact is expected to travel to Europe, where he will likely face a rematch with Heart's Cry, the only horse to ever beat him.