Gran Alegria Defends Title In Yasuda Kinen

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Gran Alegria | JRA photo

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Gran Alegria (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}) should jump a warm favourite to become the first repeat winner of the G1 Yasuda Kinen since two-time Horse of the Year Vodka (Jpn) (Tanino Gimlet {Jpn}) when she squares off against 13 males in Japan's premier spring mile. The Yasuda Kinen serves as a 'Win and You're In' qualifying race for the GI Breeders' Cup Mile at the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club in early November.

The 5-year-old, a daughter of Breeders' Cup winner Tapitsfly (Tapit), has won six of eight over the metric mile, having easily accounted for another two-time Horse of the Year in Almond Eye (Jpn) (Lord Kanaloa {Jpn}) in this event last season. She overcame late traffic trouble to add the G1 Mile Championship at Hanshin in November and resumed with a fourth in ground easier than she prefers in the Apr. 4 G1 Osaka Hai (2000m). She most recently decimated her peers in the G1 Victoria Mile over Sunday's course and distance May 16, but reportedly missed a bit of work thereafter and atypically did her final piece of work on the uphill gallop this past Wednesday.

“This is the first time she'll have only two full weeks between races, so her fast work this week was on the hill course and just fast enough to keep her tuned up,” said trainer Kazuo Fujisawa. “I didn't need her to go too fast so, with a horse in front, I told the rider it was fine if she caught him or not. She always tries hard and I think it was a good workout.”

 

Indy Champ (Jpn) (Stay Gold {Jpn}) took this event in 2019 and ran well to be third last year before being outfinished by the favorite in defence of his title in the Mile Championship. Last seen finishing a good third to Danon Smash (Jpn) (Lord Kanaloa {Jpn}) in the G1 Takamatsunomiya Kinen over an insufficient six-furlong trip, he gets back out to his pet distance Sunday.

“It won't be easy to beat the Victoria Mile winner,” trainer Hidetaka Otonashi admitted. “I'm hoping he'll rise to the challenge. I've tried many different things, many distances and find ourselves back at the mile. I want him to go out there and win.”

Salios (Jpn) (Heart's Cry {Jpn}), winner of the G1 Asahi Hai Futurity (1600m) at two, was runner-up to Contrail (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}) in the G1 Satsuki Sho (2000m) and G1 Toyko Yushun (2400m) last season and was a sneaky good fifth from the widest berth in the Mile Championship. Impossibly wide on the turn, he leveled out beautifully in the stretch, sprinting his final 600 metres in a race-fastest :33.1. He also may not have cared for the soft in the Osaka Hai last time.

It has been 10 years since 3-year-old Real Impact (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}) stepped up to beat the older milers in the Yasuda Kinen, but Schnell Meister (Ger) (Kingman {GB}) will have support to do so this weekend. Each of his three wins have come over this specialist trip, including a narrow success from barrier 15 in the G1 NHK Mile Cup at headquarters May 9. Incidentally, Lauda Sion (Jpn) became the first Group 1 winner for Real Impact when taking out the 2020 NHK Mile Cup and lines up here on the heels of a victory in the G2 Keio Hai Spring Cup (1400m) at this venue three weeks ago.

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