As expected, Japanese champion Deep Impact won Sunday’s Takarazuka Kinen (Jpn-I) before 80,000 spectators convincingly in his final domestic outing at Kyoto Racecourse prior to heading to France for the Prix de l’ Arc de Triomphe (Fr-I) on Oct. 1.
The details of his trip are to be finalized, but the 4-year-old son of Sunday Silence came through the 2,200-meter race Sunday on a yielding turf in drizzling rain with flying colors to win by four lengths.
Deep Impact, owned by Kaneko Makoto Holdings and trained by Yasuo Ikee, earned his fifth grade I win and his 10th victory overall in 11 starts.
When asked about Deep Impact’s chances in the Arc, trainer Ikee said, “With a horse like this, you know you have a chance. However, it won’t be easy, and we will do everything we can to ensure that he is in perfect condition in France.”
Champion Japanese jockey Yutaka Take settled Deep Impact at the back of the field, running second last before making his move at around the 800-meter mark.
Unlike his last start in the Tenno Sho (Spring) (Jpn-I), where Take took off quickly and circled the field to hit the lead with 600 meters to go, Deep Impact made ground around the field more gradually. At the top of the straight, he still had several lengths to make up on leader Balance of Game, who pinched a few lengths break at the 400-meter mark after setting an easy pace.
There were a few nervous seconds when it looked like Balance of Game might have gotten free with a move that was similar to Heart’s Cry when Deep Impact was upset in the 2005 Arima Kinen (Jpn-I) – his only loss. But 200 meters from the wire it was clear Deep Impact had the race in hand. Take waved the whip in jubilation approaching the finish and the crowd roared.
Narita Century, who had been beaten easily in the Tenno Sho in his first start in more than a year, made up good ground in the straight to grab second place from the battling Balance of Game, who held on for third.