THE second favourite Cafe Pharoah gained his second Group 1 February Stakes success in impressive style at Tokyo last Sunday.
The son of American Pharoah bounced back after failing to win in his three starts since last season’s win.
The win marked trainer Noriyuki Hori’s 14th JRA-Group 1 title and for jockey Yuichi Fukunaga, it was his 33rd overall JRA-Group 1 title following the Japan Cup last autumn with Contrail.
The race was pretty uneventful with little change in the leaders from half-way.
T M South Dan moved forward to take over the lead after a furlong and a half to set the pace, with white filly Sodashi well placed.
Running in sixth, Cafe Pharoah made headway from the third bend and hit the straight three wide and in third, half a length behind Sodashi.
He passed Sodashi and took the lead from pacesetter right after the furlong marker. He raced to the line to post a two-and-a-half-length victory.
T M South Dan couldn’t match the winner’s speed in the last furlong, but held on well to secure the runner-up position by half a length from Sodashi.
“Mr. Hori and I went over the tactics before the race. Cafe Pharoah’s start wasn’t that sharp but he recovered well and we were able to sit in a good position, in third, where he didn’t have to bear too much sand in his face, which was what I was hoping for.
“After that I just tried to keep him focused especially after taking over the lead in the final stages. I’m grateful to the connections who offered me this ride even before I had fully recovered from the fall in Hong Kong,”[at the international meeting in December] commented Yuichi Fukunaga after the race.
Sodashi put in a decent effort on the dirt rack rated ‘muddy’ as she tracked the leaders in third, took second rounding the final corner, ran willingly inside the eventual winner but was caught 300 metres out.
Race favourite Red Le Zele finished only sixth.