TOKYO (Feb. 23, 2020) – Capital System’s 6-year-old favorite Mozu Ascot swept to the front in the final furlong to win Sunday’s 37th running of the 1-mile, $2 million February Stakes (G1) on dirt by 2 ½ lengths over huge longshot K T Brave (JPN) at Tokyo Racecourse, and gained the first automatic berth into this year’s $6 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) through the Breeders’ Cup Challenge series.
The Breeders’ Cup Challenge is an international series of stakes races whose winners receive automatic starting positions and fees paid into a corresponding race in the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, which will be held this year at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Kentucky, on Nov. 6-7.
As a part of the benefits of the Challenge series, the Breeders’ Cup will pay the pre-entry and entry fees for Mozu Ascot to start in the 1 ¼-mile Breeders’ Cup Classic, and also will provide a $40,000 travel allowance for all starters based outside of North America to compete in the World Championships.
Trained by Yoshito Yahagi and ridden by Christophe Lemaire, Mozu Ascot, bred in Kentucky by Summer Wind Farm, won his second straight dirt track race, which was preceded by 19 starts on turf. A chestnut son of Frankel (GB) out of India by Hennessy, Mozu Ascot also won his second Breeders’ Cup Challenge race, having taken the 2018 Yasuda Kinen (G1), which was a ”Win and You’re In” for the TVG Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1).
Before a crowd of 50,985, the full gate of 16 opened with Wide Pharaoh (JPN) and Arctos (JPN) sprinting to the front to lead the field while Mozu Ascot was settled behind last year’s winner and second favorite, Inti (JPN) in mid-division. After entering the straight in sixth to seventh, Mozu Ascot, the 2.8-1 favorite, came looming up from the inside, took over the lead from Time Flyer (JPN) before the furlong marker and galloped strongly and unthreatened to the wire.
Mozu Ascot completed the mile in 1:35.20 over a lefthanded course listed as “standard.”
“He broke well and we were able to settle right behind Inti as planned,” said Lemaire. “His acceleration was extraordinary. Although he is a newcomer in dirt racing, he adapted immediately to the surface and gave his best today. After a couple of second-place finishes in the past, I myself, am happy to have won the February Stakes at last.”
Seven-year-old K T Brave (JPN) broke well from a wide stall at 142-1 and sat a length or two behind the eventual winner in mid-pack. The longest shot on the board angled out sharply in early stretch and while displaying a tremendous burst of speed, tagged the tiring Time Flyer (JPN) first before shaking off a stubborn Wonder Lider (JPN) 50 meters out for second. Sunrise Nova (JPN) traveled outside Wonder Lider two to three lengths behind K T Brave and was late in making his bid entering the lane second from last, but with the fastest last three-furlong speed, the third-pick showed a strong stretch charge pinning Wonder Lider at the wire for third. Inti, 31-1, faded to 14th.
Mozu Ascot captured his second G1 victory in this year’s February Stakes and has become the fifth horse to claim G1 titles both on turf and dirt following Kurofune, Agnes Digital, Eagle Café and Admire Don (JPN). After his G1 triumph in the 2018 Yasuda Kinen (1,600m) and struggling with two G2 runner-up efforts after that, he immediately showed his talent on dirt by winning his first outing on the surface in the Negishi Stakes (G3, dirt, 1,400m) on Feb. 2 at Tokyo.
Following today’s race, connections to Capital Systems announced their intentions of racing Mozu Ascot next in the Doncaster Mile (G1, 1,600m) at Royal Randwick in Australia on April 4.
Edited article from Masahiro Usuda, Japan Racing Association
Attached photo of Mozu Ascot, with jockey Christophe Lemaire up, is courtesy of Yuki Shimono