Do Deuce Faces Tough Task In Takarazuka Kinen

Do Deuce | JRA photo

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Elite-level racing in Japan for the first half of the season comes to a close this weekend with the running of the G1 Takarazuka Kinen, being contested this year at Kyoto Racecourse due to ongoing renovations at its normal home at Hanshin. The 2200-metre contest will earn the winner a fees-paid berth into the GI Longines Breeders' Cup Turf at Del Mar in early November.

The Takarazuka Kinen is one of two fan-voted events on the JRA calendar annually, and its leading votegetter Do Deuce (Jpn) (Heart's Cry {Jpn}) will take a fair bit of beating. The mount of Yutaka Take, the 5-year-old–winner of the 2022 G1 Tokyo Yushun–was fourth to Equinox (Jpn) (Kitasan Black {Jpn}) in the G1 Japan Cup before powering home in the G1 Arima Kinen the following month. Near-enough favoured in the G1 Dubai Turf at Meydan Mar. 30, he sat an inside trip and was bottled up for a good portion of the run home, finally breaking free to close strongly for fifth.

“He returned to Japan without any problems, and has had a break at Northern Farm Shigaraki,” said trainer Yasuo Tomomichi. “In training at the end of last month, his times were faster than I thought. More recently, he's been moving well in his work with other horses, despite the pace not being that quick.”

 

 

 

Justin Palace (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}) also made the trip over to Dubai a few months ago, where he finished fourth in an oddly run G1 Dubai Sheema Classic. Third to Equinox in this event last season, he was second to the Horse of the Year in the G1 Tenno Sho (Autumn) over a 2000-metre trip shy of his best and fourth in the Arima Kinen.

“He's having his usual training routine, now that he's recovered from the trip to Dubai,” said trainer Haruki Sugiyama. “He's more mature mentally now, and if he stays calm, we'll be able to increase his workload a bit more from now.”

Bellagio Opera (Jpn) (Lord Kanaloa {Jpn}), second to Pradaria (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}) in the G2 Kyoto Kinen in February, sat handy to the pace in the G1 Osaka Hai and just prevailed in a three-way go. The two horses behind him had far inferior trips and are in the discussion this weekend. Rousham Park (Jpn) (Harbinger {GB}) made a sweeping move around horses down the back of the track and sat three deep into the lane while just failing to get home, while Rouge Eveil (Jpn) (Just a Way {Jpn}) was forced to pick her way through in the straight and may not have had the cleanest of passages.

The X-factor in the Takarazuka Kinen is Struve (Jpn) (King Kamehameha {Jpn}), who capped a three-race winning streak with a last-gasp success in the G2 Meguro Kinen on the Japanese Derby undercard May 26. This is easily his stiffest test to date.

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