Orfevre returns to stardom in the all-star Takarazuka Kinen
25 Jun 2012 | Living up to the expectations of the fans that placed him on the top of the list of fan votes, Orfevre exerted an impressive late charge to capture the 2012 Takarazuka Kinen at Hanshin Racecourse on Sunday, his fifth G1 victory following the year-end Grand Prix race Arima Kinen (G1, 2,500m) last year.
With his full brother Dream Journey also claiming the Takarazuka Kinen and Arima Kinen in 2009, the two became the first brothers to claim the Takarazuka Kinen in JRA history.
While capturing the Triple Crown races—seventh colt to claim the title—and being named the 2011 Horse of the Year, the Stay Gold colt had been winless this year, finishing second in the Hanshin Daishoten (G2, 3,000m) and a disappointing 11th in his last race, the Tenno Sho (Spring) (G1, 3,200m).
His comeback to stardom in this race gave his jockey Kenichi Ikezoe and his trainer Yasutoshi Ikee their third and second Takarazuka Kinen victory, respectively, which includes their success with Dream Journey in 2009 (the trainer has also won the race with Sweep Tosho in 2005). The trainer refrained from commenting on Orfevre’s future schedule to challenge in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
Coming in second was Rulership partnered with Craig Williams, with whom he won this year’s Queen Elizabeth II Cup (G1, 2,000m) in Hong Kong.
The race took off with Neko Punch accelerating smoothly from the outermost post to take the front, followed by Smile Jack some 3 lengths behind and Beat Black another 3-4 lengths apart in third. Mount Shasta settled in fourth while second pick Rulership raced sixth from the front, with race favorite Orfevre and third choice Win Variation racing side by side in mid-division around 11-12th.
While the field closed in entering the homestretch, Rulership and defending champion Earnestly inherited the lead from the tiring frontrunners just briefly, as 3-year-old Mount Shasta quickened from the inner course, utilizing his weight advantage of 53kg, to overtake the front. Orfevre, slipping out from the pack at the top of the homestretch, accelerated powerfully with his usual burst of speed, caught up with Mount Shasta 100 meters out and immediately pulled away to a comfortable 2-length victory.
Pursuing the winner were Rulership partnered with Craig Williams, sixth pick Shonan Mighty who threaded through the horses from way behind in the rear and unleashed an impressive turn of speed, and Win Variation who made bid from the outer route after turning the corners wide—the three horses crossed the wire 2 lengths, 1-1/4 lengths and another 2 lengths behind in second, third and fourth, respectively.
Mount Shasta, although overtaken by four horses before the wire, raced tenaciously until the end to finish a nose behind Win Variation in fifth.
THE 53RD TAKARAZUKA KINEN (G1)
3-year-old & up, 2,200 meters (about 11 furlongs), turf, right-handed
Sunday, June 24, 2012 Hanshin Racecourse 11th Race Post time: 15:40
Total prize money: ¥ 274,960,000 (about US$ 3,437,000 < US$1 = ¥80>)
3-y-o: 53kg (about 117 lbs), 4-y-o & up: 58kg (about 128 lbs)
2kg allowance for Fillies & Mares, 1kg allowance for Southern Hemisphere-bred born in 2008,
3kg allowance for Southern Hemisphere-bred born in 2009
Safety factor: 18 runners
1. Orfevre (JPN), chestnut, colt, 4-year-old
Stay Gold / Oriental Art (Mejiro McQueen)
Breeder: Shadai Corporation Inc. Owner: Sunday Racing Co.,Ltd.
Trainer: Yasutoshi Ikee Jockey: Kenichi Ikezoe
14 Starts, 8 Wins
Added money: ¥ 135,444,000 Career earnings: ¥ 978,682,000
Principal race performances: ’11 Arima Kinen (G1, 2,500m) 1st
’11 Kikuka Sho (Japanese St. Leger, G1, 3,000m) 1st
’11 Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby, G1, 2,400m) 1st
’11 Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas, G1, 2,000m) 1st
2. Rulership (JPN), bay, horse, 5-year-old
King Kamehameha / Air Groove (Tony Bin)
Breeder: Northern Racing Owner: Sunday Racing Co.,Ltd.
Trainer: Katsuhiko Sumii Jockey: Craig Williams
3. Shonan Mighty (JPN), dark bay or brown, colt, 4-year-old
Manhattan Cafe / Luxury (Storm Cat)
Breeder: Yano Bokujo Owner: Tetsuhide Kunimoto
Trainer: Tomoyuki Umeda Jockey: Suguru Hamanaka
6th: (6) Eishin Flash—off the pace in mid-field, showed little in stretch.
7th: (8) Earnestly—ran 5th, entered stretch in 2nd but unable to maintain effort.
8th: (10) Nakayama Knight—traveled behind winner, improved position at stretch.
9th: (9) Beat Black—raced well in good position, led briefly at 4th corner but fell back soon after.
10th: (12) Federalist—sat towards rear, angled out and gained ground in homestretch.
11th: (3) Hit the Target—saved ground in mid-division, no response at stretch.
12th: (15) To the Glory—settled in front of winner, lacked needed kick in stretch.
13th: (13) Monte Kris S—trailed in rear, passed tired rivals in stretch.
14th: (14) Whale Capture—traveled wide in midfield, never a threat.
15th: (5) Smile Jack—chased leader 3-4 lengths behind, faded after 4th corner.
16th: (16) Neko Punch—set pace from widest draw, used up before final turn.
Fractional Time (sec/furlong): 12.2 - 10.9 - 11.2 - 11.9 - 12.2 - 12.1 - 12.5 - 12.6 - 11.6 - 11.6 - 12.1
Last 4 furlongs: 47.9 Last 3 furlongs: 35.3