Triple Crown Winner Returns In Loaded Osaka Hai

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Contrail | JRA

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A field of 13–including a half-dozen by the legendary Deep Impact (Jpn)–will face the starter for a cracking renewal of the G1 Osaka Hai (2000m) Sunday at Hanshin Racecourse, led by the late stallion's 2020 Triple Crown hero Contrail (Jpn).

Raced by Shinji Maeda and bred by the family's North Hills Co. Ltd., the son of Rhodochrosite (Unbridled's Song) built on an undefeated 2-year-old season with four on the bounce last term, defeating Salios (Jpn) (Heart's Cry {Jpn}) in the G1 Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas) (2000m) in April and more soundly in the G1 Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby) (2400m) the following month. The hasslefree winner of the G2 Kobe Shimbun Hai fresh up in September, he completed a sweep of the Triple Crown in the G1 Kikuka Sho (Japanese St Leger)–albeit narrowly–over a 3000-metre trip that surely stretched him and tasted defeat for the first time when a clear runner-up to Almond Eye (Jpn) (Lord Kanaloa {Jpn}) in November's G1 Japan Cup (2400m).

“His workload has been good and things have gone as expected with him,” assistant trainer Shigeki Miyauchi commented. “There has been nothing to worry about, and the race distance of 2,000 metres will be just right for him. I'm sure if he gets to run his true race, he'll get a good result.”

Salios, runner-up to Contrail for champion 2-year-old honours in 2019, bounced back from his Derby defeat to easily win the G2 Mainichi Okan in October and was last seen running fifth in the G1 Mile Championship at Kyoto in November.

The winner of the latter event was Gran Alegria (Jpn), a Deep Impact daughter of American multiple Grade I winner Tapitsfly (Tapit), who was adding that event to her barnstorming tally in the G1 Sprinters' S. the month prior. An easy choice for champion sprinter/miler, she stretches out to 10 furlongs for the first time and Christophe Lemaire will try to make best use of her stinging turn of foot in the final stages.

“She's an easy horse to ride, can settle well in a race, and I know what I have to do with her,” the French ex-pat said. “Even though it's her first time at 2,000 meters, I'm sure she'll put in a big run. Speed is also needed over the inner turf course.”

Lei Papale (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}) is perfect and untested from her five career starts and gets the litmus test Sunday. The Carrot Farm runner made her most recent appearance over this track and distance, accounting for the re-opposing Bravas (Jpn) (King Kamehameha {Jpn}) in the G3 Challenge Cup in December.

Persian Knight (Jpn) (Harbinger {GB}) is winless in over three years, but was runner-up in this event in 2018, is drawn well and can outrun longshot odds if he gets his preferred quick conditions underfoot.

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