Suzuka Phoenix broke through for his first group I win March 25 in the Takamatsunomiya Kinen at Chukyo racecourse just outside the Japanese city of Nagoya, enabling champion jockey Yutaka Take to claim a group I triumph for the 20th consecutive season.
On a track affected by heavy overnight rain, the 1,200-meter race was led, as expected, by the outsider, 9-year-old Divine Silver, with favored runners She is Tosho, M O Winner and Orewa Matteruze close up to ensure that the pace was on throughout the race. Take had Suzuka Phoenix, a 5-year-old son of Sunday Silence, midfield in the early stages and after angling to the outside of the pack, began to make his move at the 800-meter mark.
As the field entered the straight, the leaders were feeling the pressure. Katsumi Ando pulled out one of the favored competitors, Precise Machine, for his run, but Take brought his mount around that rival and it was clear that he was traveling much better. M O Winner fought on well on the inside past of the track, but at the 200-meter mark Suzuka Phoenix shot away from the field.
Precise Machine made ground in the straight, but in the final stages was passed by outsider Peer Gynt who surprised the majority of Japanese racing fans by plugging on well in the straight and grabbing second. Both Suzuka Phoenix and Peer Gynt are by Sunday Silence, so not only did one of his offspring win this race for a third consecutive year (with three different horses), but he also provided the quinella.
The 6-year-old Fuji Kiseki mare Venus Line finished from the tail of the field for fourth, and last year’s winner Orewa Matteruze held on well for fifth.
Suzuka Phoenix (Sunday Silence--Rose of Suzuka) was bred and is owned by Keiji Nagai, and is trained by Mitsuru Hashida. The time for the race was 1:08.9.
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