Sound True hits a high note in Champions Cup
Edited Press Release
Hiroshi Yamada’s Sound True avenged a third-place finish in last year’s Champions Cup (Jpn-G1) when stealing away the 2016 title from race favorite Awardee in the last two strides.
Breaking smoothly from stall 8, Sound True was eased back to second from the rear by jockey Takuya Ono and maintained the rearward position while taking an economic route by the rails. The French Deputy gelding, still hugging the rails turning for home, angled out to find space outside the front horses that spread wide to make bid in the homestretch.
Switching his gear on from the outside route, Sound True unleashed his usual late charge that timed the fastest last three furlong and flew passed all his rivals to pin the leader right before the wire for a neck victory. The chestnut’s powerful late drive renewed the 2015 race record by 0.3 second to 1:50.1 for 1800 meters.
“We had to race toward the rear as the pace was fast, but I concentrated on keeping good rhythm,” Ono explained. “I raced him along the rails through the last two corners as planned and was able to find space entering the homestretch. It seemed that the horses in front tired somewhat in the last 100 meters.
“I was unable to race him smoothly in the stretch last year but the ride was perfect this year. The horse seems to be in good form during this time of the year so I am looking forward to defending the title in the year-end Tokyo Daishoten.”
Sound True captured his third graded victory and his second Grade 1 title in this spot following his win in the Tokyo Daishoten last December. This was also his first win of this season, though he had been consistent with a second and three thirds out of five starts prior to this race. The six-year-old is the second gelding to capture the Champions Cup, formerly the Japan Cup Dirt, following Fleetstreet Dancer in 2003.
Sound True’s victory marked the second JRA-Grade 1 score for both trainer Noboru Takagi and Ono following the 2014 Sprinters Stakes with Snow Dragon.
Favored Awardee, ridden by Yutaka Take who had just claimed his 71st JRA-Grade 1 victory when winning the Japan Cup with Kitasan Black a week ago, hugged the rails in midpack, around sixth from the front. The Jungle Pocket six-year-old took a wide route rounding the corners and steadily advanced forward to assume command 100 meters out. Just when the crowds were convinced of his seven-race winning streak, the bay was overtaken and succumbed to second.
“I knew that the horse tends to lose his concentration when taking the front but he was more so today than usual. He also seemed a bit difficult during the race,” Take remarked.
Longshot Asukano Roman broke sharply and rallied to take command but settled behind Monde Classe to press the pace in second. Entering the lane in second, the son of Agnes Digital persistently closed in and, although overtaken first by Awardee and then by Sound True in the last 100 meters, passed the tiring front runner and fended off the strong late charge by Kafuji Take to cross the wire a neck in front in third.
“He lost his concentration at the first corner, which disrupted his rhythm. He held on really well despite the difficult race development (fast pace),” jockey Ryuji Wada said. “I think he was in his best condition coming into the race so I am really disappointed in this result.”
Kafuji Take, who trailed in the rear and showed an impressive late kick after turning widest, timed the second fastest over the last three furlongs but came up a neck short of third.
“He exerted a powerful late kick but he had to cover extra distance compared to the winner,” jockey Akihide Tsumura stated. “He was really calm and showed great performance today.”
Lani, winner of the U.A.E. Derby (UAE-G2) and third in the Belmont Stakes (G1), sat toward the rear, traveled wide and met traffic at stretch. The Tapit sophomore lost momentum and finished ninth under jockey Hiroyuki Uchida.
“We were interrupted when entering the homestretch,” Mikio Matsunaga said.
Sound True photos courtesy of Tomoya Moriuchi/Horsephotos.com