July 18, 2024

Unbeaten Chrysoberyl shines in record-setting Champions Cup

Chrysoberyl, with jockey Yuga Kawada, wins the Champions Cup (Tomoya Moriuchi/Horsephotos.com)

In midstretch of Sunday’s Champions Cup (G1), Chrysoberyl appeared to be going nowhere behind front-running Inti, and about to lose his unbeaten status. But the star three-year-old rose to the occasion in his stiffest test of class so far. Muscling between Inti and rallying favorite Gold Dream, Chrysoberyl forced his neck in front in a record 1:48.5 for about 1 1/8 miles on the Chukyo dirt.

The winner of his five starts by open lengths going into this Grade 1 debut, Chrysoberyl was the early favorite before being supplanted by his top older rival, Gold Dream. The hero of the 2017 Champions Cup ended up going off at 5-2, with Chrysoberyl drifting to 7-2 second favoritism. Inti ranked as the 9-2 third choice on his retrieval mission, and the market leaders served up a logical result.

Chrysoberyl broke well from post 5 and secured a ground-saving spot drafting in Inti’s wake. Gold Dream was likewise perched in striking range but with more room to maneuver than the pocketed Chrysoberyl.

Meanwhile, Inti was in his comfort zone up front, dictating a generous pace. Huge longshots T O Energy and London Town chased but retreated, and Inti continued to hold sway into the Chukyo straight. Chrysoberyl, hitherto on the bridle, began to come under pressure and stayed on one-paced.

Then Gold Dream picked up strongly to threaten on the outside. As though galvanized by the new contender in the picture, Chrysoberyl suddenly kicked into gear for regular rider Yuga Kawada. Despite being in tight between the oncoming Gold Dream and Inti, he burst through to match Gold Dream’s turn of foot.

The two sons of Gold Allure pulled away from Inti in the final yards, and Chrysoberyl proved the stronger to go a perfect six-for-six. Inti finished another 1 1/4 lengths back in third.

Chuwa Wizard, who was blocked on the rail in the stretch, flashed home once extricating himself and checked in a half-length adrift of Inti in fourth. The surprising King’s Guard posted the fastest final three furlongs in :35.0 to grab fifth. Omega Perfume, Vengeance, Time Flyer, Westerlund, London Town, Wonder Lider, Mozu Attraction, Mitsuba, Wide Pharaoh, Satono Titan, and T O Energy rounded out the order of finish.

“We were able to settle in good position behind Inti,” Kawada recapped, “and the colt was able to race with good rhythm. Though it was difficult to advance, having to race between Inti and Gold Dream at the stretch, we were able to pull away and win the rally at the end. He is still unbeaten and I’m confident that he will continue to develop and become even stronger.”

Trained by Hidetaka Otonashi for U. Carrot Farm, Chrysoberyl had scored his previous stakes victories at the listed level. The bay beat fellow sophomores in the Hyogo Championship and the Japan Dirt Derby and dispatched older horses in the Nippon TV Hai last out. The Champions Cup, the race formerly known as the Japan Cup Dirt, marked a much higher grade of competition.

Chrysoberyl became the third Grade 1 performer for his dam, Chrysoprase (herself a full sister to 2006 Japan Cup Dirt winner Alondite). The El Condor Pasa mare is responsible for champion older mare Marialite, whose marquee wins came in the 2015 Queen Elizabeth II Cup (G1) and 2016 Takarazuka Kinen (G1), and Lia Fail, third in the 2015 Kikuka Sho (Japanese St Leger) (G1) after landing the Kobe Shimbun Hai (G2). She also produced multiple dirt stakes scorer Chrysolite, who won the 2013 Japan Dirt Derby, turned a three-peat in the Diolite Kinen (2015-17), and captured the 2016 Korea Cup for the same connections as his full brother Chrysoberyl.

By passing his Champions Cup test, Chrysoberyl has sparked hopes of taking his game on the road internationally.