Japan continued its global mastery of top races with a gritty victory from Songline (JPN) in the Group 3 US $1.5m 1351 Turf Sprint presented by stc.
Ridden with cool confidence by Christophe Lemaire for the famed red, black and yellow silks of Sunday Racing Co. Ltd, the daughter of champion Kizuna – himself an international winner when taking the 2013 Prix Niel in France – sat in the third flank just off the rail before commencing a steady rally outside faltering pace-setters and seizing the lead within the final 200m en route to a neck victory.
Casa Creed (USA) and Happy Romance (IRE), who were to the outside and inside of the winner during the first half of the 1351m race, commenced their rallies in unison with the eventual victress, with the former going wide and latter diving inside between horses.
Neither were able to reach Songline at the finish, with six-year-old entire Casa Creed closing fastest of the pair to pip his rival for second. Luis Saez was aboard the runner-up, while Tom Marquand piloted Happy Romance to an excellent third-place finish. It was another three and a half lengths back to another Japanese runner, Lauda Sion (Christian Demuro), in fourth.
Pacesetting market favourite Naval Crown (GB) set a blistering pace with Pogo (IRE) before faltering to 11th, while Pogo finished fifth.
Trained by Toru Hayashi, the four-year-old filly – who crossed the wire in 1:18.00 – was returning to the winner’s enclosure having taken the Grade 2 Fuji Stakes on October 23 at Tokyo. In May, the dark bay was a strong second in the Grade 1 NHK Mile Cup to well-regarded Schnell Meister. She won for the fourth time in nine starts and for the first time at less than 1400m.
Toru Hayashi, trainer, Songline, 1st: “This is the greatest moment of my career. I have been training for only four years and it is my first time racing a horse outside of Japan, so for Songline to do this… I think I am dreaming!
“She is such a brilliant filly and the ride from [Christophe] Lemaire was perfect. The owners also deserve great credit for their ambition in coming here. As a three-year-old last year she raced well in this counter-clockwise direction over a mile [1600m] and she has a lot of natural speed, so we thought we could run well coming back in distance a little.
“Thanks also to Authority from Japan for winning the first race. That made me think we had the momentum and that Songline could also run well, and it is amazing that she did!”
Luis Saez, jockey, Casa Creed, 2nd: “We ran pretty good. He finished strong. After the second jump we were getting there but it was too late.”
Tom Marquand, jockey, Happy Romance, 3rd: “She’s run absolutely superbly. I think it’s testament to her heart more than anything that she could come out here and run so well. To be honest, we were hoping for that, but it’s tough racing out here so for her to have gone so close is great.”
Other jockey quotes:
Cristian Demuro, jockey, Lauda Sion, 4th: “He ran good. We were a bit slow at the start, but he finished well and fourth is a good position for him.”
Kieran Shoemark, jockey, Pogo, 5th: “He jumped a little slow but ran well and kept finding for me, which I knew he would. He ran over 10 furlongs the last day and ran well here but he’s just a proper miler.”
David Egan, jockey, Happy Power, 6th: “He ran a great race, he had to use up a bit of gas early on from the gates, but he jumped well and got himself in a nice position and ran really well fresh.”
Christophe Soumillon, jockey, Thunder Moon 14th : “We had a good run through the race but he just never kicked.”