Gran Alegria stuns in Sprinters Stakes

Legendary sire Deep Impact gets his first G1 sprint win

For all of Deep Impact’s incomparable achievements, a feat that had eluded the mighty sire was a G1 win at 1,200m, but that changed when Gran Alegria swooped with a spectacular win in the Sprinters Stakes on Sunday at Nakayama.

Gran Alegria started favourite but entered the race with better credentials as a miler, with two G1 titles at the distance. She won the Oka Sho (Japanese 1000 Guineas, G1, 1,600m) last year and the Yasuda Kinen (G1, 1,600m) this spring. 

Kazuo Fujisawa’s mare had shown signs she would be a handful for rivals at the shorter trip though when she finished second in the spring sprint G1, the Takamatsunomiya Kinen.

It was Fujisawa’s third Sprinters Stakes after Taiki Shuttle in 1997 and Tower of London last year and his 31st JRA-G1 title overall.

Winning jockey Christophe Lemaire has been aboard some Japanese superstars in recent years, including Almond Eye and last year’s Sprinters Stakes winner Tower Of London,  but he was blown away by the 500 kilogram mare’s turn-of-foot.

“I can’t believe how strong she is!,” Lemaire enthused post-race. “She was a little slow to get into the rhythm and we were much further back than expected but we did not panic if not a little worried that we may not be in time as the pace was fast—in a normal situation we may not have made it—but she certainly showed what she is made of and she just carried on while some of the front runners started to weaken.” 

“I can’t believe how strong she is!,” Christophe Lemaire

Gran Alegria was off slow and raced second from the rear, plenty of distance from pacesetter and second favorite Mozu Superflare. While gradually picking up speed, she was still well behind a rapid pace and looked far from being a threat turning for home, but as soon as  Lemaire gave a little smack after shifting his mount to the outside for a clear run, Gran Alegria mowed down the whole field with every stride to take command 50 meters out and pulled away to a two-length victory.

Third favorite Danon Smash missed a beat at the start but quickly gained his rhythm, chased the leaders along the rails around fifth and had a perfect trip coming into the straight. The son of Lord Kanaloa stayed well as the early leaders began to weaken in the last 100 meters, but had little left to chase the eventual winner while managing to hold off the late charging A Will a Way.

Tenth choice A Will a Way was unhurried after the break and eased back, trailing in the rear up to the final turn, but showed a tremendous turn of speed while having to make up much ground along the outside lane to finish 1/2-length behind Danon Smash in third.


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