Contrail Takes Kikuka Sho, Becoming’s Japan’s Third Undefeated Triple Crown Winner

Odds-on favorite Contrail joined his sire, the Sunday Silence stallion Deep Impact, as one of three undefeated Japanese Triple Crown winners by capturing the Grade 1 Kikuka Sho (Japanese St. Leger) over 1 7/8-miles at Kyoto Race Course on Sunday in Kyoto, Japan.

Ridden by Yuichi Fukunaga and trained by Yoshito Yahagi, Contrail was all out to beat Aristoteles and Christophe Lemaire by a neck in the final leg of a series that began April 19 with the 1 1/4-mile Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas) and continued one month later with the Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby), contested at 1 1/2 miles. All three races are on turf.

Another son of Deep Impact, Satono Flag, finished third of the 18 runners, all but one of which – Godolphin’s Irish-bred Turkish Palace (14th place) – were bred in Japan.

Contrail is Japan’s eighth Triple Crown winner and the first to be sired by a previous Triple Crown winner. Deep Impact won his crown in 2005. The third horse to exit the series undefeated was Symboli Rudolf in 1984.

Contrail broke smoothly and settled between horses in mid-pack as Chimera Verite set a moderate pace. Fukunaga allowed Contrail to gradually move toward the front and took the lead after entering the stretch. But he could not shake Aristoteles, a 22-1 longshot, who raced alongside Contrail the length of the stretch, falling just a neck short at the finish.

“This may not have been his best performance, but I kept my faith in Contrail and he certainly showed how strong he is to have maintained his position up to the end of the 3,000-meter trip,” Fukunaga said.

Final time was 3:05.5 on firm turf, well off the course and race record of 3:01.0 set by Toho Jackal in 2014.

Contrail, who is now 7-for-7, paid 110 yen on a 100 yen bet for the win. Owned by Shinji Maeda and bred by North Hills Co. Ltd., he was produced from the Kentucky-bred Unbridled’s Song mare Rhodochrosite, who was bred by the Robert and Beverly Lewis Trust and sold for $385,000 at the 2011 Keeneland September Yearling Sale. The Lewises bred and raced Rhodochrosite’s dam, the Tiznow filly Folklore, Eclipse Award winner as outstanding 2-year-old filly in 2005 when she won the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies for trainer D. Wayne Lukas.

While on-track attendance was limited to just over 1,000 people, wagering on the Kikuka Sho day program from Kyoto totaled $286.9 million, a 27.3% increase from 2019 when a Triple Crown was not on the line. Wagering on the Kikuka Sho race itself was $202.8 million, up 30% from 2019.


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