The Sunday Silence-sired filly Believe extended her winning streak to four and notched her first grade I win with a victory in the $1,464,131 Sprinters Stakes at Niigata Racecourse Sept. 29. Yutaka Take, just back from riding in France, guided the 4-year-old favorite to the win over this spring's Yasuda Kinen (Jpn-I) winner Admire Cozzene (by Cozzene) in 1:07.7 over 1,200 meters of firm turf. Believe's win was a posthumous feather in the cap of her sire, whose progeny had captured all the top-level Japanese races except for the two sprints, the Takamatsunomiya Kinen (Jpn-I) and Sprinters Stakes. The latter, moved this year to the Niigata venue from Nakayama near Tokyo, gave the Japan Sea coastal city its first grade I race ever and helped draw its second-largest crowd.
Third pick Shonan Kampf, winner of the spring's top sprint, took the lead from the gate as expected, followed by Admire Cozzene, back on the track for the first time in nearly four months. Take, well aware the frontrunners were no faders, took Believe to the fore, keeping pace in third. Into the stretch, the three broke away from the rest of the 11-strong field by a good four lengths. The Niigata crowd of over 34,000 thrilled to the three-way show of strength as the trio battled down the stretch with Shonan Kampf and Admire Cozzene neck-and-neck. Take, about to bring Believe up to split the two, abruptly changed course, moved to the rail and into the lead with less than 100 meters to go. Admire Cozzene edged Shonan Kampf out of second five strides out. Believe's dam, Great Christine, is a half-sister to Lady's Secret. She is trained by Ritto-based Shigeki Matsumoto and was bred at Uemizu Bokujo in Mukawa, Hokkaido. No foreign-based entrants took part in this year's Sprinters Stakes.