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Posted 2009-04-01 00:23:25  
Laurel Guerreiro wins the Takamatsunomiya Kinen

In the feature sprint race on the JRA Spring calendar, the Grade 1 Takamatsunomiya Kinen, run at the Chukyo racecourse over 1200m, 5yo horse Laurel Guerreiro recorded his first win at Grade 1 level in the time of 1:08.0.

The pace was on early in the race, with rank outsider Joyful Heart crossing the field from barrier 18 to take the early lead. Laurel Guerreiro and race favorite Sleepless Night settled just off the pace, while 2nd favorite Faridat missed the start conspicuously and was at the tail of the field. The field went through the first 600m in 33.1 seconds, and not long after, the major chances started making their moves.

Jockey Shinji Fujita took Laurel Guerreiro to the lead as the field cornered, but Sleepless Night seemed to have him covered and soon after hit the lead. She looked set to shoot away and justify the support of the Japanese racing fans, but the classy mare was 1st up today and had experienced problems since her last run, with a severe rash breaking out. That may have told on the mare, as although she hit the front and looked the winner, she slowly came back to the field and it was Laurel Guerreiro on the fence who fought back brilliantly, and at the finish line had a 1/2 length winning break. Takamatsunomiya Kinen/Laurel Guerreiro

Various horses charged out of the pack, but they never challenged the two leaders, and ended up fighting out 3rd place. Outside Soldier’s Song won the photo for 3rd ahead of Tosho Courage, with Cosmo Bell sneaking up along the inside for 5th, just ahead of the fast finishing Faridat whose connections will be ruing the fact that he missed the start.

Last year’s winner Fine Grain was disappointing in finishing 17th, as was the Australian bred Kinshasa no Kiseki who after finishing 2nd in this race last year, could only manage 10th today.

The winner Laurel Guerreiro travelled to Hong Kong last December, but could only finish 8th in the Group 1 Hong Kong Sprint. But back in Japan, he showed that he is one of the top sprinters in Japan today, together with Sleepless Night who was brave in defeat.

Laurel Guerreiro is a 5yo horse, by former winner of this race, King Halo, out of the Tenby mare Big Tenby. He was bred by Murata Bokujo, is owned by Laurel Racing Co., Ltd., and is trained by Mitsugu Kon. Today was only this 4th win, but he has had 7 2nds in his career so far.

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