JRA Weekend Wrap: Feb. 20-21

TOKYO (TR) – Highlighting Japan Racing Association action over the weekend was USA-bred Moanin’s victory at the G1 February Stakes in 1:34.0, a track record, on Sunday at Tokyo Racecourse.

Just over 53,000 fans filled the stands to catch Japan’s best dirt runners in the first G1 race of the year. On Saturday the track was hit with heavy rain, and its condition was on everyone’s mind. But by the 11th the track, still muddy, was fast.

Mirco Demuro settled the 4-year-old colt by Henny Hughes wide and stalked the four to five non-contenders running defense for him on his left.

At the start of the stretch Demuro maneuvered around Tagano Tonnerre and began to accelerate, taking the lead at the 200-meter pole, punching it, and winning by a length and a quarter.

After the race, Demuro said he was waiting for the stretch running favorite, Nonkono Yume, and leading jockey Christophe Lemaire to show up and press him, but when asked, Moanin gave more than expected.

Lemaire said that it took him longer than expected to get Nonkono Yume wound up and in top gear, but when he did, the pair put on a belated show passing 11 and finishing the last three furlongs in 34.7 for second place.

Owner Yukio Baba picked up just over 100 million yen of the 189.6-million-yen purse. The win paid 510 yen, and the 7-14 quinella paid 680 yen. (Video: Moanin wins the 11th race at the February Stakes at Tokyo Racecourse on Feb. 20)

Kokura Daishoten G3

Deep Impact offsprings finished first, second, and fourth in the 1,800-meter G3 Kokura Daishoten with 4-year-old colt Albert Dock beating 8-year-old D’accord by a head on Sunday in Kokura Racecourse’s main event.

At the second turn Yuga Kawada kept the younger horse to the rail, while Futoshi Komaki steered the elder wide. At the start of the stretch they were parallel and miles apart. Favorite Meiner Frost began to fade with 400 meters to go while Albert Dock and D’accord made it a contest to the end.

The G1 Racing Co. Ltd. collected just over half of the 78.1-million yen purse. The win paid 570 yen.

Diamond Stakes G3

Twinkle stole the show on Saturday in the pouring rain by outracing Fame Game and Tanta Algeria in the 3,400-meter G3 Diamond Stakes. Rain and anything less than a firm track had punters wondering if Fame Game would repeat his disapponting Melbourne Cup performance.

But no excuses, Fame Game ran well, but Twinkle ran four lengths better. The 5-year-old by Stay Gold ran mid-pack just behind Tanta Algeria with Fame Game holding back. Late in the backstretch Twinkle swapped positions with Tanta Algeria and emerged out of the turn in the lead. Just as Tanta Algeria started to fade, Fame Game began to pick up speed but was unbable to close the long gap.

Twinkle earned his crew 41.5 million yen and paid 680 yen.

Kyoto Himba Stakes G3

Favorite Queens Ring by Manhattan Cafe won the 1,400-meter G3 Kyoto Himba Stakes at Kyoto Racecourse on Saturday. The 4-year-old under Mirco Demuro ran just off the pace, stalking the leaders up to the 200-meter pole. Fifth ranked Snatch Mind made an intimidating but brief play for the race, but appeared spent as Demuro tapped Queens Ring reserves and charged in to win by a neck ahead of Magic Time, who offered up an impressive come-from-behind stretch performance.

Queens Ring earned 36.6 million yen and the win paid 470 yen.