It’s a somewhat bittersweet night as we see another star bid us a fond farewell as she heads to the breeding shed next year.
Gran Alegria has been a stalwart on the JRA racing scene for the past three years, winning multiple G1 events including this event last year. Can she repeat her victory last year or will one of the up and coming three-year-olds spoil the party?
Race 11 – G1 Mile Championship – Hanshin Racecourse – 3yo & Up – 1 Mile Turf – 1:40 am ET/10:40 pm PT
3 Schnell Meister – Thee year old son of Kingman comes into the race off of a win in the G2 Mainichi Okan, a race where he faced Yasuda Kinen winner Danon Kingly (beating that one by a head). He doesn’t do things easy and usually comes with a rush late to try and defeat his foes. His first venture vs. older was in the same aforementioned Yasuda Kinen where he only lost by a half length for everything in June of this year. He should improve in his second start off of layoff and certainly enjoys the Mile distance (4 for 5). I can’t fault his regular rider Christophe Lemaire with sticking with the champ (Gran Alegria), but his replacement is no slouch in Takeshi Yokoyama (5th overall – victories in Tenno Sho, Satsuki Sho, etc). He was aboard for that effort in the Yasuda Kinen so should know the colt now. He’ll have to outkick Gran Alegria and others in here but think he’s up to the task. He’ll probably be second choice on the board so will be using him in verticals and horizontal wagers.
12 Gran Alegria – What a mare. She’s danced every dance and this year has even tried her luck stretching out to longer than she’s wanted. She now returns to the distance she really wants and that is a flat mile on the turf. She loves Hanshin (three wins from five starts) and is the defending champ. I’m not going to hold her second place effort in the Yasuda Kinen against her, as that day she wasn’t herself and honestly looked done for before Lemaire urged her on to the head loss. She can stalk or sit her usual favoured mid-pack position in races and Lemaire knows when to push the button. I’ll certainly have her in savers and it would certainly be no shock for her to win this again. The fact she hasn’t felt like herself at times this year gives me hope that maybe she isn’t her usual self, leaving the door open for others. She hasn’t done that great with short rest as she’ll be doing here today. This is all me trying to find holes in her armour that aren’t really there!
11 Catedral – Has usually found this type of company too tough but willing to take a shot with him today. Jockey Tosaki was aboard for his G3 win last out and hops back on board again today as a vote of confidence. He beat Grenadier Guards in his last who he’ll face again today, so that does give me a bit more confidence in his chances. He does his best running late so like Schnell will need to get a move on in the stretch. His trainer has said that he’s only starting to really understand racing now at age five and mature mentally and physically. He likes Hanshin and the draw shouldn’t bother him at all. Is also making his second start off of layoff with an eye towards this race. Think he could add some juice to the back half of exotic wagers and if the race falls apart could have a big say in the outcome. The price is right.
7 Indy Champ – The “Old Man” still keeps getting it done and competing at the top level. While this isn’t the 2018 or 2019 version of him, he can still put in big efforts in his races. They are using this as a prep race for the HK Mile in December so he will come into this a very fresh horse. His record over a mile distance is fantastic with fourteen in the money efforts from twenty starts. While I don’t think he can win this I do think he will be a part of the mix in the stretch and make his presence felt. He’ll have first run on the late closers and again may hang around for a piece at what may be the longest odds in his career. We may still see him at age seven so don’t count the “Champ” out yet!