(Breeders’ Cup 2022 / Coady Photography)
From the Breeders’ Cup Media Team:
Silk Racing Co. Ltd.’s odds-on favorite Equinox (JPN) swept widest of all on the far turn and powered home to a neck victory over longshot Through Seven Seas (JPN) in Sunday’s 1 3/8-mile Takarazuka Kinen (G1) at Hanshin Racecourse. With this victory, Equinox―the top-rated horse in the Longines World’s Best Racehorse Rankings―earned an automatic starting position and fees paid into the $4 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) through the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series: Win and You’re In.
The Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series is an international series of 80 Graded/Group 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. 3-4 at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California.
Equinox, trained by Tetsuya Kimara and ridden by Christophe Lemaire, joins The Punisher (ARG), winner of the Gran Premio Internacional Carlos Pellegrini (G1), and Raptor’s (BRZ), who won the Gran Premio Brasil (G1), as the first horses thus far to receive free starting berths into this year’s Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf.
Equinox, Japan’s 2022 Horse of the Year, broke smoothly from stall five at the start of the 64th Takarazuka Kinen against 17 rivals, and eased back to 17th in the early going. The 4-year-old son of Kitasan Black (JPN) continued to travel near the rear along in the backstretch, while Unicorn Lion (JPN) set the pace through the first mile. Equinox gradually advanced forward rounding the last two turns and displayed a powerful turn of foot in the lane, passing his rivals one by one, and sustained his speed after taking the lead passing the 200-meter pole to hold off the strong challenge by Through Seven Seas by a neck.
“Though we were unable to get a good position toward the front due to the fast pace at the beginning, the horse was relaxed in the rear and I wasn’t worried at all,” said winning jockey Lemaire, who garnered his 45th JRA Group 1 victory. “As the inner track condition was not so good, we made a bid from the outside early and turned wide to the straight where he stretched really well.
“Hanshin’s inner course is tricky and Takarazuka Kinen is a difficult race to win even for champion horses, so I’m very happy that I was able to win the race with the No. 1 horse in the World’s Best Racehorse Rankings. I realized again how strong he is.”
Through Seven Seas, sent off at odds of 55-1, settled in the very rear and steadily advanced position behind the race favorite rounding the last turns. Though meeting traffic entering the lane, the 5-year-old mare by Dream Journey (JPN) weaved her way through and closed in on Equinox with a swift rally but wound up a neck short at the wire.
Second choice Justin Palace (JPN), unhurried around 12th and traveling in front of the winner, gained ground on the frontrunners from the outer route after the third turn, dueled with Equinox at the top of the stretch, and, although failing to keep up with the winner, sustained his late charge to secure third place just before the wire by a head.
Equinox completed the 1 3/8 miles in 2:11.20 over a course listed as good to firm. Today’s victory was his fourth consecutive Group 1 triumph and his second one this year. Equinox opened the season with a frontrunning, 3 1/2-length victory in the March 25 Dubai Sheema Classic (G1) at Meydan, a performance that raised him to the World’s No. 1 ranking by the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA).
As a part of the benefits of the Challenge Series, Breeders’ Cup will pay the entry fees for Equinox to start in the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf, which will be run at 1 1/2 miles at Santa Anita. Breeders’ Cup will also provide a travel allowance for all starters based outside of North America to compete in the World Championships.
The Takarazuka Kinen concluded the Japan portion of the 2023 Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series: Win and You’re In. Listed below are the Challenge races in Japan and the winners:
|Race Date||Track||Race Name||Distance||BCWC Division||Winner|
|2/19/23||TOK||February Stakes (G1)||1 Mile||Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1)||Lemon Pop|
|5/14/23||TOK||Victoria Mile (G1)||1 Mile (T)||Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1)||Songline (JPN)|
|6/4/23||TOK||Yasuda Kinen (G1)||1 Mile (T)||FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1)||Songline (JPN)|
|6/25/23||HSN||Takarazuka Kinen G1)||1 3/8 Mile (T)||Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1)||Equinox (JPN)|
ABOUT BREEDERS’ CUP
Breeders’ Cup Limited administers the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, Thoroughbred racing’s year-end Championships, as well as the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series: Win and You’re In, which provides automatic starting positions into the Championships races through an 80-race series hosted by 11 countries, and the U.S.-based Dirt Dozen Bonus Series. The Breeders’ Cup supports and operates under the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority (HISA), which, for the first time, establishes a national, uniform set of rules applicable to every Thoroughbred racing participant and racetrack. HISA seeks to enhance the safety of both horse and rider and to protect the integrity of the sport to the benefit of all racing participants, fans, and bettors.
The 2023 Breeders’ Cup World Championships, consisting of 14 Grade 1 Championship races, and $31 million in purses and awards, is scheduled to be held Nov. 3-4 at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California. The Championships will return to the West Coast in 2024 with Del Mar in Del Mar, California, set to host Nov. 1-2. The Championships will be televised live by NBC Sports. Press releases appear on the Breeders’ Cup website, BreedersCup.com. You can also follow the Breeders’ Cup on social media.