Star colt Saturnalia set himself up for a possible clash with the mighty Almond Eye in next month's Tenno Sho after getting back to winning ways in the Grade 2 Kobe Shimbun Hai at Hanshin on Sunday.
Winner of the Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2,000 Guineas), Saturnalia disappointed in the Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby) on his previous start in May but won comfortably on his return over the 1m4f trip.
Trained by Katsuhiko Sumii, Saturnalia made no mistake as the 2-5 favourite won by three lengths from Velox under Christophe Lemaire.
The jockey said: "He showed his strength today. He needed a horse in front of him and he relaxed in the back straight. His start was no good in the Derby but it was good today. Looking forward to the future, I'm sure he's a super horse."
After the race, Sumii said he would discuss Saturnalia's next target with owners U Carrot Farm, who are thought to be considering the Tenno Sho Autumn or Japan Cup.
Should Saturnalia take on Dubai Turf winner Almond Eye in the Tenno Sho, he would need a new jockey as Lemaire has struck up a great rapport with the Japanese superstar.
Christophe Soumillon will be at the front of the queue as he is set to partner Sumii's Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe contender Kiseki and is due to go to Japan on a short-term licence in the autumn.
Last year's Tenno Sho winner Rey De Oro could manage only fourth behind winner Stiffelio (Hidetaka Otonashi/Genki Maruyama) in the big-race trial, the Grade 2 Sankei Sho All Comers at Nakayama on Sunday.