38-1 Peptide Nile ‘Ran a Great Race’ in February Stakes

February 18, 2024

Peptide Nile (Japan Racing Association Photo)

Gains Automatic Berth Into Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic

Edited Release from the Japan Racing Association

TOKYO— Stunning the crowd at Tokyo Racecourse, jockey Yusuke Fujioka rode 38-1 longshot Peptide Nile (JPN) to a 1 1/4-length victory Sunday over Gaia Force (JPN) in the $1.8 million February Stakes (G1). Sent off as the 11th choice in a field of 16, the lightly regarded 6-year-old turned in the best performance of his career to claim his first graded stakes win.

With his victory in the 1-mile dirt affair, Peptide Nile gained the first automatic berth into this year’s $6 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) through the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series: Win and You’re In.

Now in its 18th season, the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series is an international series of stakes races whose winners receive automatic starting positions and fees paid into a corresponding race of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, scheduled to be held Nov. 1-2 at Del Mar in Del Mar, California.

Bred in Japan by Kineusu Bokujo, Peptide Nile is a son of King Kamehameha (JPN) out of Queen Olive (JPN), by Manhattan Cafe (JPN). Owned by Kazuhiko Numakawa, Peptide Nile earned his eighth win in 20 starts when he completed the mile in 1:35.70 over a track listed as standard. 

Don Frankie (JPN) led the February Stakes field with a fast pace all the way into the stretch, while Wilson Tesoro (JPN)Igniter (JPN)Dura Erede (JPN), and Peptide Nile all sat in close pursuit. Shifting slightly outside for room in the final turn, Peptide Nile slipped into the lane in fourth, in good striking position. He then accelerated with a good turn of foot to seize command before the furlong marker and held on well to get the win.

In addition to this being Peptide Nile’s first top-level score, he also gave his trainer Hidenori Take, who opened his yard in 2018, his first Grade 1 victory. Additionally, it marked Fujioka’s second JRA-G1 win, following his NHK Mile Cup triumph with Keiai Nautique in 2018.

“The pace was tough, but he ran a great race,” said Fujioka. “We were able to sit in a better position than expected, but I didn’t imagine he would take over the lead that early and that easily. The wire seemed very far today. His last start didn’t turn out as hoped, but as long as he’s able to run in good rhythm as he did today, I’m sure we can look forward to solid performances in the future.”

Peptide Nile came into the race having finished sixth by 3 lengths in the Jan. 21 Tokai Stakes (G2) over muddy track at Kyoto Racecourse. Although he was dismissed by bettors in the February Stakes, his connections felt he deserved the chance to compete.

“He recovers from his races well, and even with this short time between races, I think he can show his power,” assistant trainer Kaname Ogino said in the days leading up to the race.

Gaia Force (JPN), who was making his first start over dirt, ran on well to finish second after being sent off at odds of 13-1. Although failing to threaten the eventual winner, he showed good speed in the stretch to rally for the place position in a photo finish. Sekifu (JPN) finished a neck back in third, while Tagano Beauty (JPN) was a nose behind in fourth. 

Omega Guiness (JPN), the 3-1 favorite, put in a disappointing performance as he dropped away to finish 14th.

As a part of the benefits of the Challenge Series, Breeders’ Cup will pay the entry fees for Peptide Nile to start in the 1 1/4-mile Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic. Breeders’ Cup will also provide a travel allowance for all starters based outside of North America to compete in the World Championships. The Challenge winner must be nominated by the Breeders’ Cup pre-entry deadline of Oct. 21 in order to be eligible to receive the rewards.

@jonathanstettin great pick!

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