Gr.1 horseracing action returns to Japan with February Stakes. This year there have been 18 nominations for the 36th running of this race which allows for a maximum field of 16. Record time for the February Stakes is 1 minute 34.0 seconds, set by Moanin in 2016.
Some of the step races leading up to this year’s February Stakes have included the Gr.1 Tokyo Daishoten, held at Oi last December over 2,000 meters, the Gr.3 Negishi Stakes over 1,400 meters at Tokyo in January, and the Gr.2 Tokai TV Hai Tokai Stakes run over 1,800 meters at Chukyo, also last month. A number of the runners are coming off runs in these races and will be battling it out again for this Sunday’s ¥100 million winner’s check.
Secretariat's World look at some of the top horses in the field.
Inti: Something of a revelation on the dirt racing scene in Japan, Inti keeps being given stronger tests and keeps passing them with flying colors, as the 5-year-old has now won six straight races, five of them as favorite. His latest win came in the Gr.2 Tokai TV Hai Tokai Stakes over 1,800 meters at Chukyo in January.
Gold Dream: The 6-year-old needs no introduction to racing fans in Japan, taking out the Gr.1 dirt double of the February Stakes and the Champions Cup in 2017, as well as finishing second in last year’s February Stakes.
Omega Perfume: The 4-year-old colt by Swept Overboard has only been unplaced once in nine starts (which have included five wins) and that was when he was fifth in last year’s Gr.1 Champions Cup.
Copano Kicking: Nanako Fujita will make history when she rides Copano Kicking on Sunday, becoming the first ever female JRA jockey to ride in a Gr.1 race. Copano Kicking is an American bred by Spring At Last, and has won his last four races, which have included two Gr.3s, the latest the Negishi Stakes over 1,400 meters at Tokyo in January.
Sunrise Soar: The Symboli Kris S 5-year-old chased home Best Dirt Horse for 2018 Le Vent Se Leve to finish third in last year’s Gr.1 Champions Cup, and is a horse that likes to be prominent in a race and give it his all, no matter what the distance.
A couple of other horses should also be mentioned. Worthy of note is the other Sunrise runner, Sunrise Nova, and last year’s February Stakes winner, Nonkono Yume. While the former could only finish eighth last time in the Gr.3 Negishi Stakes, it shouldn’t detract from his overall good record of finishing in the first three 13 times from 20 starts, and a generally good track record at Tokyo.