Eighth Favorite Danon Kingly crushed defending champion Gran Alegria’s high hopes of a consecutive Yasuda Kinen title in a close finish at the wire to score his first and much awaited grade one victory. The son of Deep Impact kicked off his career with three back-to-back wins, in which one was the Kyodo News Hai (G3), before turning in a third in the Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas, G1, 2,000m) and a second in the Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby, G1, 2,400m) in 2019. Although adding two graded titles thereafter—the Mainichi Okan (G2, 1,800m) that year and the Nakayama Kinen (G2, 1,800m) the following season—third in the Osaka Hai (2,000m) last year was his best finish in all of the other G1 challenges that followed and the dark bay was given a long break after running a disappointing 12th in the Tenno Sho (Autumn) (G1, 2,000m) last November. Trainer Kiyoshi Hagiwara has notched his fourth JRA-G1 victory—his latest was with Normcore in the 2019 Victoria Mile. Jockey Yuga Kawada now has three Yasuda Kinen trophies on his shelf—the first two were with Maurice (2015) and Satono Aladdin (2017)—he now has a total of 18 JRA-G1 wins while his latest was the Osaka Hai on board Lei Papale.
Breaking from stall 11, five-year-old Danon Kingly traveled two-wide in mid-pack a couple of lengths in front of the favorite while Daiwa Cagney led the field in front. Still near the rear at the final bend, the son of Deep Impact took a center-lane path and unleashed a determined stretch run climbing the Tokyo course hill to finally draw even with Indy Champ and Schnell Meister at the front along with Gran Alegria who also came looming up from the inside 100 meters out. While Indy Champ and Schnell Meister weakened after a brief rally in the final strides, Danon Kingly narrowly held off the strong challenge from the defending champion by a head margin.
‟He felt a bit tense first entering the track but he had good rhythm during the trip and had plenty of horse left. He responded just as I hoped turning the last corner and ran well after that. Although he hasn’t been able to put in the best results in the past, he has definitely demonstrated his true strength today and I’m happy to have been a part of it in my first time in the saddle,” commented Yuga Kawada.
On target to notch her second Yasuda Kinen title, clear favorite Gran Alegria was reserved fourth from the rear and found herself trapped behind a wall of horses in the straight. The only mare contender finally weaved through horses with the fastest stretch speed to reach contention in the last half furlong and dug in fiercely but was too late and succumbed to second.
Three-year-old and fourth pick Schnell Meister took a wide trip down the backstretch sitting outside 2019 Yasuda Kinen champion Indy Champ while gradually making headway up to fifth before hitting the top of the stretch. With the eventual winner on his outside and runner-up behind him, this year’s NHK Mile Cup winner ran strongly to reach the front 100 meters out and joined a brief rally with three older foes but lacked the final kick and was a 1/2-length from the runner-up in third.
4th: (8) Indy Champ—settled around 5th, advanced smoothly to take command 200m out, weakened in last 100m
5th: (9) Taurus Gemini—stalked leader in 2nd, showed tenacity after overtaken by top 4 finishers in last 200m
6th: (10) Cadenas—trailed near rear, entered lane in last, showed belated charge
7th: (6) Danon Premium—chased leaders around 3rd along rails, ran gamely until 100m out
8th: (1) Salios—hugged rails around 9th inside eventual winner, met traffic 200m out, accelerated thereafter
9th: (2) Gibeon—saved ground around 5th, showed effort until 200m out, weakened
10th: (12) Cadence Call—sat 3-wide around 9th outside heavy favorite, lacked needed kick
11th: (3) Daiwa Cagney—set pace, sustained lead until 200m pole, fell back thereafter
12th: (14) Catedral—traveled 3-wide around 12th, even paced after turning home
13th: (4) Karate—took economic trip around 12th, showed little at stretch
14th: (7) Lauda Sion—tracked leaders around 3rd, checked 200m out and faded