Ascoli Piceno scores Hanshin Juvenile Fillies Win

Third favorite Ascoli Piceno claimed this year’s Hanshin Juvenile Fillies, her third career win in as many starts, while renewing the race record time to 1:32.6. After breaking her maiden in her debut start (Tokyo, 1,400m) in June, she stepped up in class and immediately won her first grade-race title in the Niigata Nisai Stakes (G3, 1,600m) on August 27. 

For trainer Yoichi Kuroiwa, who opened his yard in 2012, this is his seventh graded and first G1 title, while jockey Hiroshi Kitamura, whose latest G1 victory was with Kitasan Black in the 2015 Kikuka Sho (Japanese St. Leger), has now earned his fourth G1 title.

The race got underway with Chicago Sting sent to the front followed by Nanao pressing the pace on her outside while Ascoli Piceno traveled two-wide and in mid-pack. Still behind a group of horses when entering the straight, the Daiwa Major filly switched a path out for clear running and dueled with Corazon Beat down the middle of the stretch. 

After finally pinning the pacesetter 100 meters out, Ascoli Piceno shook off the stubborn Corazon Beat and dug in strongly, holding off the late-charging Stellenbosch by a neck.

“The stable staff did a great job and she was in very good condition, so I had every confidence in her. The filly broke better than in her previous start, was relaxed during the race and responded well in the stretch. I was a bit worried for a second that we were going to get caught, but she gave her all, all the way to the line,” commented Hiroshi Kitamura.

Fifth pick Stellenbosch ridden by Christophe Lemaire was reserved around 10th right behind the eventual winner and although struggled for room in early stretch, launched the fastest late kick to catch Corazon Beat 100 meters out but was a neck short at the wire and finished second.

Second choice Corazon Beat settled in around sixth, circled wide into the lane and dueled with the winner but lacked the final kick and missed the runner-up seat while securing third by 1-1/4-length margin.

Race favorite and Heart’s Cry filly Safira, ran on the outside and beside the eventual runner-up in the early stages and lost ground when shifted out wide on the last turn, but closed strongly picking off her rivals to finish three lengths behind Corazon Beat in fourth.

2-year-olds, Fillies, 1,600 meters (about 8 furlongs), turf, right-handed
Sunday, December 10, 2023 Hanshin Racecourse 11th Race Post time: 15:40
Total prize money: ¥ 140,200,000 (about US$ 1,071,000 <US$1=¥131>)
2-y-o: 55kg (about 121 lbs), 3 kg allowance for Southern Hemisphere-bred born in 2021
Course Record: 1:32.3 Race Record: 1:32.6 [Ascoli Piceno (JPN, by Daiwa Major), 2023]
Safety factor: 18 runners Going: Good to Firm Weather: Fine

FP BK PP Horse Jockey S&A Color Wgt Odds (Fav) Margin (L3F) Sire Dam (Dam’s Sire) Owner Breeder Trainer

1 4 7 Ascoli Piceno (JPN) Hiroshi Kitamura F2 d.b. 55.0 5.9 (3) 1:32.6 (33.7) Daiwa Major Ascolti (Danehill Dancer) Sunday Racing Co., Ltd. Northern Farm Yoichi Kuroiwa

2 3 6 Stellenbosch (JPN) Christophe Lemaire F2 b. 55.0 8.7 (5) Neck (33.5) Epiphaneia Bloukrans (Rulership) Katsumi Yoshida Northern Farm Sakae Kunieda

3 5 10 Corazon Beat (JPN) Takeshi Yokoyama F2 ch. 55.0 4.8 (2) 1-1/4 (34.1) Suave Richard Le Ciel d'Or (Orfevre) Thoroughbred Club Ruffian Co., Ltd. Big Red Farm Shizuya Kato 

Other Horses:
5th: (12) Chicago Sting—set pace, showed tenacity, outrun by top finishers in last 100m
6th: (16) Lucifer—traveled wide around 13th, lacked needed kick while met brief traffic 200m out
7th: (11) Sweep Feet—was off slow, trained in rear, angled out, had too much ground to make up
8th: (18) Dona Betty—sat in 16th, showed 3rd fastest late speed while drifted inside 200m out
9th: (1) Cosmo Dinner—hugged rails around 13th, passed tired rivals
10th: (3) Catfight—broke sharply, eased back to 10th, switched to outside at early stretch, even paced
11th: (9) Teleos Lulu—ran forwardly around 3rd, weakened in last 200m
12th: (15) Nanao—stalked leader in 2nd, outrun in last 150m
13th: (2) Quick Bio—saved ground in 7th, ran gamely until 150m out
14th: (5) Spring Nova—positioned near rear, showed effort but met traffic 200m out
15th: (8) Psipsina—raced wide around 8th, never fired to reach contention
16th: (13) Culture Day—chased leaders around 3rd, remained in contention up to 200m pole
17th: (4) New General—traveled in 15-16th, no factor
18th: (17) Mirai Tailor—tracked leaders around 3rd, faded after final corner
Fractional time (sec./furlong): 12.4 - 10.7 - 11.3 - 12.0 - 11.8 - 11.3 - 11.4 - 11.7
 Last 4 furlongs: 46.2 Last 3 furlongs: 34.4