Superstar Japanese horse Almond Eye could only watch on as Gran Alegria surged past her to claim the Group 1 Yasuda Kinen at Tokyo Racecourse on Saturday.
The Deep Impact filly now has five wins from eight starts.
It was a remarkable outcome for the stable, the win granting trainer Kazuo Fujisawa and his team the express lane to the Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland in November.
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The ride by Kenichi Ikezo was equally as impressive.
Ikezo had Gran Alegria away smoothly from the jump and kept the four-year-old midpack to allow for an almighty sweeping turn where he found plenty of room on the outside to make use of the long stretch home up the straight of Tokyo racecourse.
With a race time of 1:31.60, Gran Alegria had two-and-half lengths on the race favourite Almond Eye and had third-placed Indy Champ well beat, too.
“I was focused on keeping her in a good rhythm and in a good position, which all worked out beautifully,” Ikezoe said post-race.
“She just gave her best with such a tenacious run down the stretch.”
In a field that made up nine other Group 1 winners, the win is even sweeter.
🎙️ “Almond Eye, can she get there? I don’t think so!”— Hong Kong Racing (@HongKong_Racing) June 7, 2020
🏇 GRAN ALEGRIA pulls off the upset in the G1 Yasuda Kinen.
🤔 What did you make of Almond Eye’s performance?pic.twitter.com/mMPeusqS8T
“I was afraid up to the line that we were going to be caught, especially by Almond Eye,” Ikezoe said.
“I hurt myself when a chunk of grass hit my eye at the third corner, but it doesn’t hurt at all now.”
The race is seen as a missed opportunity for Almond Eye and jockey Christophe Lemaire lamented the three-week break between the G1 Victoria Mile and Saturday’s encounter at the Yasuda Kinen.
“We had a poor break,” Lemaire said.
“I think we recovered well and made a smooth and strong bid turning for home with Gran Alegria in aim.
“She showed her good turn of foot, but she could have done better. The winner was just so strong. It wasn’t our day.”
The top three finishers of the G1 Yasuda Kinen also earn entry into the G1 Prix Jacques le Marois, normally run in August at Deauville, France.