Nihonpiro Baron captured his first J-G1 victory in this year’s Nakayama Daishogai by a nose after being sent off third favorite in the 13-horse field.
Among his 37 starts from debuting in December as a two-year-old to the summer of his five-year-old season, the son of Fusaichi Richard had claimed three wins in flat races over dirt.
He immediately showed his true talent when switched to jump racing, claiming his first win in his first outing, and following a runner-up effort, marked five consecutive victories which included the 2016 Kyoto High-Jump (J-G2) and the Hanshin Jump Stakes (J-G3).
The chestnut was forced to take an extensive period time to recover from a tendon injury after finishing second in the 2016 Kyoto Jump Stakes (J-G3) but made a come-back in this year’s Pegasus Jump Stakes with a runner-up effort and came off a third in the Nakayama Grand Jump (J-G1) in April. For trainer Hidetaka Tadokoro, this is his first G1 title and 11th graded victory in both flat and jump races. Jockey Shinichi Ishigami, who has five J-G1 titles with last year’s victor Oju Chosan, celebrates his third consecutive Nakayama Diashogai triumph.
The race broke off with Miyaji Taiga on the lead with Shigeru Roninaji and Taisei Dream chasing the pace the first time in front of the stands.
Nihonpiro Baron was settled in fifth but gradually advanced position skillfully rounding the turns economically and was on the heels of the favorite and leader Up to Date, who took the front after the fourth jump (no.3), as the field climbed out of the third dip.
Second favorite Miyaji Taiga surged to the front after the ninth jump (no.3) and briefly led in the backstretch but the son of Fusaichi Richard returned the challenge kicking into gear and swiftly took over the lead before the final jump (no.5). With Miyaji Taiga on his heels, Nihonpiro Baron was first to hit the straight, extended his lead to two to three lengths in upper stretch and used every bit of stamina he had left to ward off the fast-closing Taisei Dream, grabbing his much-awaited big title.
“I had no doubts he was a strong horse and that we had a good chance after watching his other races. I had my eyes on Up to Date during the race and when Miyaji Taiga took the lead again, it let us reserve our energy for our stretch run which connected to our win by that (close) margin,” commented Shinichi Ishigami after he race.
Breaking smoothly from stall six, fifth favorite Taisei Dream chased the pace, marking the pace-setting favorite from a few lengths behind in third to fourth throughout, entered the straight in third and displayed a tremendous burst of speed to threaten the eventual winner to the wire for a close second.
Quick out of the gate, sixth favorite Meiner Prompt traveled in mid-field in sixth or seventh up to the last dip and advanced to fourth at the final obstacle (no.5) after passing tired rivals. The dark bay made most of his saved energy entering the lane several lengths from the front, showed a good turn of foot to tag Miyaji Taiga in the last 50 meters but had too much ground to make up and was two lengths from the runner-up in third.
Race favorite and 2015 victor of the race Up to Date broke well and after stalking the pace in third, took over the lead descending the first dip, set the moderate pace the rest of the journey but stumbled after clearing the final obstacle (no.5) unseating his rider and was unable to finish.
4th: (2) Thinking Dancer—traveled in 10th, improved position after 6th jump (no.5), showed belated charge at stretch
5th: (8) Miyaji Taiga—set pace early, gradually dropped back, made headway and led after 10th jump (no.4), overtaken by winner at final corner, weakened
6th: (3) Precious Time—raced 2nd from rear, gradually advanced after 5th jump (no.6)
7th: (10) Le Pere Noel—sat around 8th, made headway to 6th, never a threat
8th: (12) Shigeru Kurokajiki—ran around 7th, entered 10th to lane, passed tired rivals at straight
9th: (13) Shigeru Roninaji—chased leader in 2nd, gradually dropped back after 7th jump (no.7)
10th: (1) L Zero—raced around 11th, briefly advanced to 8th, unable to reach contention
11th: (11) Air Cardinal—traveled in 9th early, advanced to sixth, fell back after 7th jump (no.7)
12th: (7) Tosen Melissa—trailed in far rear, no factor