Preview: Gr.1 Takamatsunomiya Kinen (Runners list, Racing Video 2019)
The Gr.1 Takamatsunomiya Kinen will go down in history as the first Japan Racing Association top-level race to be run in Japan without spectators. The event will be headlined by the top three finishers of the 2019 autumn Grade 1 Sprinters Stakes – Tower of London, Mozu Superflare and Danon Smash.
Tower of London – Miho-based Kazuo Fujisawa fields three of the Takamatsunomiya nominees and two of the likely most popular picks Tower of London and Gran Alegria. The former, a 5YO by Raven’s Pass, has seven wins and has only missed the top three spots in two of his 15 career starts. Raced exclusively over 1,200 meters in his last five starts from last summer, he scored highest in the 2019 Summer Sprint Series and captured his first Grade 1 with the Sprinters Stakes at the end of September. On March 7, he returned to finish third in the Yukan Fuji Sho Ocean Stakes (Gr.3, 1,200) at Nakayama while carrying the race’s top weight of 58 kg.
Gran Alegria – The 2019 Best 3YO Filly and 4YO daughter of Deep Impact, has captured four of her six starts, including the Gr.1 Oka Sho (Japanese 1000 Guineas) last year. Previously raced only over the mile, she was aimed for the 1,200-meter Sprinters Stakes last fall but was sidelined with hoof problems.
Danon Smash – A 5YO by champion sprinter Lord Kanaloa, Danon Smash has raced exclusively over 1,200 meters for his last 10 starts and captured five of them, including four Grade 3 competitions. Favourite in last year’s Takamatsunomiya Kinen, he finished in fourth place, only 0.2 seconds off winner Mr Melody, then in the fall ran third in the Sprinters Stakes, a mere 0.1 seconds off winner Tower of London.
A Will a Way – The 4YO daughter of Just a Way, has four wins from 10 starts, with her best performances all over six furlongs. Her only other Gr.1 bid, the 2019 Grade 1 Oka Sho, saw her finish in 10th place. Since then she has been given only sprints, with her first graded stakes victory notched last out in the Silk Road Stakes, a 1,200-meter Gr.3 at Kyoto on Feb. 2. Her only start at Chukyo, the CBC Sho last June, saw her finish in eighth over soft ground, but a first at Niigata and a second at Tokyo, indicate she is not flummoxed by a left-handed track.
Diatonic – A 5YO son of Lord Kanaloa and stablemate to Danon Smash, Diatonic turned in a gutsy performance last out in the Gr.3 Hankyu Hai over 1,400 meters. Unfortunately, it was a bit too gutsy and traffic issues resulted in his demotion to third place. Winner of the Mainichi Broadcast.