Lys Gracieux and Damien Jane win Grand-Prix Takarazuka Kinen at Hanshin

Third favourite Lys Gracieux under Australian  jockey Damien Lane claimed the 60th running of the all-star Grade 1 Takarazuka Kinen (2200m) at Hanshin on Sunday to become the fourth filly/mare to claim the spring Grand-Prix since Marialite in 2016.

Capturing her first G1 title in last year’s Queen Elizabeth II Cup (G1, 2,200m) at Kyoto in November, she was runner-up in both the following Hong Kong Vase (G1, 2,400m) in December and the Kinko Sho (G2, 2,000m) in March and came off a third in Hong Kong’s Queen Elizabeth II Cup (G1, 2,000m) in April. 

This win marked trainer Yoshito Yahagi’s seventh JRA-G1 win following his Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks) title with Loves Only You in May. For Lane, this marked his second JRA-G1 title following his win in the Victoria Mile with Normcore in May. Lane registered 37 victories including six graded titles riding in JRA races under a short-term license between the end of April and this weekend.

Quick out of the gate, Lys Gracieux rushed out from the outermost draw and settled unusually toward the front to press the pace behind Kiseki. Turning the last corner outside the frontrunner, still in second, the 5-year-old  daughter of Heart’s Cry made bid immediately after entering the lane, dueled strongly with the race favorite until overtaking the front 200 meters out and shifted into higher gear to easily pull away for a clean three-length victory.

“The horse turned out in perfect condition. I was very lucky to be able to board her today. She broke well and I thought I might as well use that to my advantage. I was very confident turning in that she had plenty left in the tank and I was worried that there were a lot of good horses chasing and I thought that they would challenge but she was just too strong,” commented Damian Lane.

Race favorite Kiseki, though breaking somewhat slowly from the innermost draw, took the front as usual to set the pace and continued to hold on well even after entering the homestretch. The son of Rulership, however, ran out of fuel in the last 200 meters while still managing to come in second.

Sixth pick Suave Richard traveled wide behind Lys Gracieux, around fourth from the front, and continued to chase the eventual winner until the wire, nailing Al Ain along the way to finish two lengths behind Kiseki in third.

3-year-olds & up, 2,200 meters (about 11 furlongs), turf, right-handed
Sunday, June 23, 2019 Hanshin Racecourse 11th Race Post time: 15:40
Total prize money: ¥ 325,000,000 (about US$ 2,826,000 <US$1=¥115>)
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 2015,
3kg allowance for Southern Hemisphere-bred born in 2016
Safety factor: 18 runners

1. Lys Gracieux (JPN), dark bay or brown, mare, 5-year-olds
Heart’s Cry / Liliside (American Post)
Owner: U. Carrot Farm Breeder: Northern Farm
Trainer: Yoshito Yahagi Jockey: Damian Lane
20 starts, 5 Wins
Added money: ¥ 152,562,000 Career earnings: ¥ 681,039,500

2. Kiseki (JPN), dark bay or brown, horse, 5-year-olds
Rulership / Blitz Finale (Deep Impact)
Owner: Tatsue Ishikawa Breeder: Shimokobe Farm
Trainer: Katsuhiko Sumii Jockey: Yuga Kawada

3. Suave Richard (JPN), chestnut, horse, 5-year-olds
Heart’s Cry / Pirramimma (Unbridled’s Song)
Owner: NICKS Co., Ltd. Breeder: Northern Racing
Trainer: Yasushi Shono Jockey: Mirco Demuro

Other Horses:
4th: (4) Al Ain—tracked leaders in 3rd, overtaken by Suave Richard 200m out, no match for top finishers
5th: (2) Rey de Oro—saved ground in 6th, entered 5th to straight, failed to close in on front runners
6th: (10) Noble Mars—ran in 8th, circled wide, passed tired rivals
7th: (6) Stiffelio—raced in 5th, entered 6-7th to lane, even paced
8th: (9) Clincher—traveled in 7th, driven after 3rd corner, failed to respond
9th: (3) Etario—settled in 10th, made headway after 3rd corner, lacked needed kick at straight
10th: (8) Shonan Bach—sat 2nd from last along rails, never fired at stretch
11th: (7) Makahiki—trailed in far rear, struggled to find clear path, unable to reach contention
12th: (5) Tatsu Gogeki—hugged rails in 9th, showed little at stretch
Fractional time (sec/furlong): 12.6 - 11.4 - 11.5 - 12.4 - 12.1 - 11.9 - 12.0 - 11.6 - 11.5 - 11.4 - 12.4
Last 4 furlongs: 46.9 Last 3 furlongs: 35.3