Deep Impact colt Ask Victor More captures the G1 Kikuka Sho (Japanese St. Leger)
Second favorite Ask Victor More set a track record of 3:02.4 for about 1 7/8 miles in winning the final jewel in Japan’s Triple Crown, the $2.8 million Kikuka Sho (G1) (Japanese St. Leger), Sunday at Hanshin Racecourse
Trainer Yasuhito Tamura and jockey Hironobu Tanabe each picked up their first classic victory with Ask Victor More, who was fifth in the Satsuki Sho (G1) (Japanese 2000 Guineas) and a close third in the Tokyo Yushun (G1) (Japanese Derby) earlier this year.
Ask Victor More broke sharply from stall 14 in the Kikuka Sho, and while a good five lengths behind pacesetter Seiun Hades maintained his position in second while without pressure and cruising in good rhythm.
As the field gradually made headway passing the 800-meter pole, the Deep Impact colt easily pinned the leader and drew away, leading the rest by about four lengths entering the stretch. He was only threatened by Boldog Hos and Justin Palace, who came charging up down the middle in the closing stages, but he prevailed by a nose to score his first win at the highest level in record time.
“I had a lot in my mind as to how I should ride in such a way that would produce good results for the colt,” Tanabe said, “and I am relieved that it worked out well. Although he we will be facing even tougher competition in the future, I feel that he is getting stronger with every race and hope that we can continue with good results.”
Boldog Hos was reserved in mid-division early while saving ground and slowly angled out away from the rails as the horses began to make their move soon after the 800-meter marker. Picking up speed turning for home down the middle lane, he was joined by Justin Palace on his inside and the two pulled away within the last furlong with tremendous late charge, with Boldog Hos managing to extend his stride to just miss at the wire.
Justin Palace was forwardly placed outside the race favorite two wide and kept a close watch on the foe through the early stages.
While Gaia Force failed to find another gear after the final turn, Justin Palace had plenty left in the tank to follow Boldog Hos, who came flying by on his outside and kept in tandem with that rival until just before the wire where he was outrun by the first two settled for third.
Race favorite Gaia Force was a fraction slow out of the gate and was rated around seventh or eighth along the rails for most of the way. Constantly covered by horses close in front and around, the Kitasan Black colt struggled to find space as the field began to make headway and only just found a clearing after entering the stretch where the gray was unable to pick up speed and faded to eighth.
Ask Victor More is campaigned by Hirosaki Toshihiro HD Co. Ltd. Bred by Shadai Farm, his dam is the Rainbow Quest mare Kartica.