Saturnalia continues undefeated with G1 Hopeful Stakes win

Heavy favorite Saturnalia won his first Grade 1 title in the Hopeful Stakes (2000m) at Nakayama on Friday while undefeated in three career starts since debuting in June and coming off his latest victory in the Hagi Stakes in October. The son of legendary sprinter Lord Kanaloa is out of Cesario, winner of the Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks)-American Oaks double in 2005, who has also produced two previous G1 winners, Epiphaneia [2013 Kikuka Sho (Japanese St. Leger), 2014 Japan Cup] and Leontes [2015 Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes]. 

Trainer Kazuya Nakatake claimed his second career JRA-G1 title after saddling Jo Cappuccino to victory in the 2009 NHK Mile Cup. Jockey Mirco Demuro landed his fourth G1 victory of the season and 28th overall—his latest being the Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes with Admire Mars.

Saturnalia broke sharply to secure a good position among the front group, allowed Cosmo Calendula to set a considerably slow pace while settling well a length behind in second position early. Still unhurried as the field began to close in before the final turn, the Lord Kanaloa colt found another gear passing the furlong pole, instantly  dislodged Admire Justa 100 meters out and drew away easily to a 1-1/2-length victory to conclude his two-year-old debut season with three wins in as many starts.

“I feel great. I knew I was riding the strongest two-year-old of the season but it was his first time over 2,000 meters so I was a little worried. He really showed his strength though squeezing his way through the narrow opening. I am really looking forward to his three-year-old season,” commented Mirco Demuro.

Admire Justa broke smoothly and was positioned smartly outside the eventual winner in third, moved up to close in on the leader rounding the third corner, sprinted out to take command in the early stretch but was unable to sustain his bid as the winner flew past his outside while holding well for second.

Nishino Daisy took advantage of an inside draw and saved ground inside at the heel of the eventual winner as the three top favorites formed the front group chasing Cosmo Calendula. The Harbinger colt dropped back briefly as the runners outside began to make headway approaching the last corner but showed impressive turn of speed to come out from between horses and track the winner once again, just short of pinning Admire Justa.

2-year-old Colts & Fillies, 2,000 meters (about 10 furlongs), turf, right-handed
Friday, December 28, 2018 Nakayama Racecourse 11th Race Post time: 15:30
Total prize money: ¥ 152,200,000 (about US$ 1,384,000 <US$1=¥110>)
2-y-o: 55kg (about 121 lbs), 1 kg allowance for Fillies, 3 kg allowance for Southern Hemisphere-bred born in 2016
Safety factor: 18 runners 

1. Saturnalia (JPN), dark bay or brown, colt, 2-year-old
Lord Kanaloa / Cesario (Special Week)
Owner: U. Carrot Farm Breeder: Northern Farm
Trainer: Kazuya Nakatake Jockey: Mirco Demuro
3 Starts, 3 Wins
Added money: ¥ 70,966,000 Career earnings: ¥ 94,141,000

2. Admire Justa (JPN), bay, colt, 2-year-old
Just a Way / Admire Teresa (Helissio)
Owner: Riichi Kondo Breeder: Northern Racing
Trainer: Naosuke Sugai Jockey: Christophe Lemaire

3. Nishino Daisy (JPN), bay, colt, 2-year-old
Harbinger / Nishino Hinagiku (Agnes Tachyon)
Owner: Shigeyuki Nishiyama Breeder: Nishiyama Stud
Trainer: Noboru Takagi Jockey: Masaki Katsuura

Other Horses:
4th: (13) Cosmo Calendula—set slow pace, showed tenacity until 100m pole, weakened in final strides
5th: (2) Breaking Dawn—raced in 6th behind winner, in contention with leaders at top of stretch, weakened in last
6th: (11) Vin de Garde—sat 2nd from rear, checked at early stretch, met traffic 200m out, quickened thereafter
7th: (4) Hiruno Dakar—ran 3-wide in 7th, turned to straight in good striking position, failed to respond
8th: (3) King Listeia—was off slow, trailed in rear, advanced on outer route, passed tired rivals
9th: (7) Mikki Black—settled in 10th, made headway after 3rd corner, found little room at early stretch, even
10th: (10) Madre Voice—traveled in 11th, lacked needed kick
11th: (9) Just a Gigolo—raced 4-wide in 9th, checked at final corner, lost momentum
12th: (6) Hakusan Taiyo—hugged rails in 8th, outrun after 3rd corner
13th: (12) Tanino Drama—sat 4-wide in 5th, faded after 3rd corner
Fractional time (sec./furlong): 12.8 - 12.0 - 13.0 - 12.5 - 12.2 - 11.8 - 11.8 - 12.2 - 11.5 - 11.8
 Last 4 furlongs: 47.3 Last 3 furlongs: 35.5