Contrail Goes Out On A High In Japan Cup

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Contrail | JRA

Generational leader and 2020 Japanese Triple Crown winner Contrail (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}) was bet down to heavy favouritism for his swansong in Sunday's G1 Japan Cup despite having met with defeat in his last three outings, and he justified the betting public's faith with a straightforward score on his way to the stallion barn at Shadai Stallion Station.

After losing his unbeaten record in this race last year when he found only the champion filly Almond Eye (Jpn) (Lord Kanaloa {Jpn}) too tough, Contrail was third over yielding ground coming off a winter break in the G1 Osaka Hai on Apr. 4. Put away until Oct. 31, the dark bay resurfaced with a second-place finish in the G1 Tenno Sho Autumn over 2000 metres at Tokyo.

Breaking among the leaders from gate two, Contrail was allowed to drop back through the field on the inside as they passed the stands for the first time. A rank Aristoteles (Jpn) (Epiphaneia {Jpn}) took the field around the first bend, with Contrail eventually settling right around midpack with this year's G1 Prix Jean Romanet victress Grand Glory (GB) (Olympic Glory {Ire}), one of three international raiders, tracking him with Aidan O'Brien's Broome (Ire) (Australia {GB}) and Japan (GB) (Galileo {Ire}) both keeping close tabs on her.

Midway down the backstretch the 2017 G1 Kikuka Sho winner Kiseki (Jpn) (Rulership {Jpn})-who has not won a race since-made a bold bid to pass the majority of the field on the outside to take the lead on the run into the final bend. Contrail, meanwhile, maintained his placing under Yuichi Fukunaga while working his way to the outside for running room coming off the turn. Contrail had about six lengths to make up upon straightening but was soon rolling down the middle of the course as Authority (Jpn) (Orfevre {Jpn}) grabbed a short-lived lead from the tiring Kiseki approaching the 200. Authority's quest for a first Group 1 win was soon quelled by Contrail, who blew past under minimal urging with a furlong to run and drew clear to win by a widening two lengths. This year's G1 Tokyo Yushun scorer Shahryar (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}) got up for third, with Grand Glory staying on for fifth as she bowed out ahead of a sale date at Arqana December next weekend. Japan and Broome checked in eighth and 11th, respectively, under Yutaka Take and Ryan Moore. Japan was likewise running his last race before he heads to stud at Gestut Etzean in Germany.

Contrail's trainer Yoshito Yahagi–fresh off saddling a double at the Breeders' Cup three weeks ago–said after seeing Contrail cross the wire for the final time, “All I have now is mixed feelings of relief and lonesomeness. In the colt's latest start [the Tenno Sho Autumn], he broke poorly so I told him while he was walking in the paddock earlier to stay calm at the start. It worried me a bit since the pace was slow and he wasn't in that good a position, but we had tuned him up to perfection and the colt gave us all he had in the straight. I have to admit I was under a lot of pressure during the two years he was at my stable, but I think it has helped me in becoming more mature, and I can't thank him enough. Wouldn't it be wonderful to win the Arc with an offspring of his someday?”

Fukunaga added, “All I did today was believe in him. He broke well and everything went just perfectly. He has given me every jockey's dream and I am utterly grateful. The colt shone a bright light over a gloomy year due to the pandemic last season. I'm relieved that we can send him off to his next career with this victory.”

As is customary after a major Group 1 horse retires in Japan, fans remained packed into the racecourse in the dark after racing ended to bid Contrail farewell at a retirement ceremony, with Yahagi himself jumping aboard the horse to ride him into the ceremony. Contrail was bringing to a close a distinguished career that began with victories at two in the G1 Hopeful S. and G3 Tokyo Sports Hai Nisai S. Named Japan's champion 2-year-old off an unbeaten three-start campaign, Contrail picked up where he left off at three, rolling through the Japanese Triple Crown and also taking the G2 Kobe Shimbun Hai to once again earn divisional honours.

Grand Glory's trainer Gianluca Bietolini said of his mare's fifth-place finish, “I am very satisfied with her performance and her result at fifth-place. She appeared to lose a bit of balance and lean to the inside but thankfully Cristian [Demuro] got her back on her feet by the stretch. She's mentally very strong and the experience to run in the Japan Cup was fantastic for us. It's a great race and we would love to come back with another horse.” Grand Glory's rider Cristian Demuro added, “We couldn't have asked for a better result–having finished fifth in this competition is almost like winning for us. She was in super form, almost as good as when I rode her in the Prix Jean Romanet, which we won. The pace was very fast for this mare, but she handled it remarkably.”

Aidan O'Brien was represented in Tokyo by Pat Keating, who said of Japan, “The track may have been a bit too fast for this horse. He was able to secure a good spot but wasn't able to keep up with the pace.” Of Broome, he added, “He missed his break and that cost him.”

Pedigree Notes

Shinji Maeda's Contrail is the third foal out of Rhodochrosite (Unbridled's Song), who was bought by Maeda's brother Koji of North Hills Farms for $385,000 at Keeneland September in 2011. The daughter of American champion 2-year-old filly Folklore (Tiznow) was placed four times at two, and has a 2-year-old full-brother to Contrail who has run twice this year.

Contrail's page has been further boosted this season by the exploits across the pond of GI Belmont S. and GI Travers S. winner Essential Quality (Tapit), who is out of Folklore's half-sister Delightful Quality. Essential Quality was America's champion 2-year-old of 2020 and goes to stud in 2021 as a four-time Grade I winners with the likelihood of picking up another divisional championship first.

Sunday, Tokyo, Japan
JAPAN CUP-G1, ¥575,460,000, Tokyo, 11-28, 3yo/up, 2400mT, 2:24.70, fm.
1–CONTRAIL (JPN), 126, c, 4, by Deep Impact (Jpn)
                1st Dam: Rhodochrosite, by Unbridled's Song
                2nd Dam: Folklore, by Tiznow
                3rd Dam: Contrive, by Storm Cat
O-Shinji Maeda; B-North Hills; T-Yoshito Yahagi; J-Yuichi
Fukunaga; ¥303,822,000. Lifetime Record: Ch. 2yo & 3yo Colt-
Jpn, 11-8-2-1. Werk Nick Rating: A+++ *Triple Plus*. Click for
   the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
2–Authority (Jpn), 126, c, 4, Orfevre (Jpn)–Rosalind (Jpn), by
Symboli Kris S. O-Silk Racing; B-Northern Farm; ¥121,092,000.
3–Shahryar (Jpn), 121, c, 3, Deep Impact (Jpn)–Dubai Majesty,
by Essence of Dubai. O-Sunday Racing; B-Northern Farm;
¥75,546,000.
Margins: 2, 1HF, 3/4. Odds: 0.60, 6.10, 2.70.
Also Ran: Sanrei Pocket (Jpn), Grand Glory (GB), Uberleben (Jpn), Shadow Diva (Jpn), Japan (GB), Aristoteles (Jpn), Kiseki (Jpn), Broome (Ire), You Can Smile (Jpn), Mozu Bello (Jpn), Makahiki (Jpn), Lord My Way (Jpn), Muito Obrigado (Jpn), Windjammer (Jpn), Wagnerian (Jpn).
Click for the JRA chart and video or the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree.

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