July 20, 2024

Daring Tact becomes first to capture Japan’s Fillies’ Triple Crown unbeaten

Daring Tact
Daring Tact with Jockey Kohei Matsuyama wins Shuka Sho (Copyright Japan Racing Association)

Comfortably maintaining her perfect status in Sunday’s Shuka Sho (G1) at Kyoto, Daring Tact became the first unbeaten winner of Japan’s Fillies’ Triple Crown, and sixth overall. Moreover, she kept alive the dream of an unprecedented “double” Triple Crown in Japan, with the undefeated colt Contrail all the rage to complete his own classic sweep in next Sunday’s Kikuka Sho (G1).

Unlike Contrail, who tipped his hand last season as champion 2-year-old colt, Daring Tact has been a bolt from the blue. The Normandy Thoroughbred Racing Co. colorbearer raced just twice at Kyoto – in a newcomers’ event Nov. 16 and the Feb. 8 Elfin S. – before announcing her presence on the big stage in the Apr. 12 Oka Sho (Japanese 1000 Guineas) (G1). She went off favored for the first time in the May 24 Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks) (G1), and extended her sequence to five in the Shuka Sho.

Trained by Haruki Sugiyama and ridden by Kohei Matsuyama, Daring Tact was bet down to 2-5 favoritism in the third jewel. The daughter of Epiphaneia broke in good order from post 13 and bided her time well off the pace dictated by Maltese Diosa. Down the backstretch, Matsuyama gave her the cue to advance, and she smoothly improved her position to reach striking range swinging for home.

Although others were also fanning wider out in the cavalry charge into the stretch, Daring Tact soon asserted and drove to a 1 1/4-length decision over Magic Castle. Godolphin’s Soft Fruit, who had been last much of the way, rallied for third and edged fellow closer Pallas Athena.

Daring Tact’s immediate pursuers were all longshots, for the logical alternatives in the market failed to get involved in the finish. Early leader Maltese Diosa, the fourth choice at 15-1, tired to seventh. Win Mighty, the 14-1 third pick, checked in ninth, and second choice Ria Amelia did not perform up to her 5-1 price when 13th of 18.

By negotiating about 1 1/4 miles in 2:00.6 on a good course after rain, Daring Tact etched her name alongside Triple Crown heroines Mejiro Ramonu (1986), Still in Love (2003), Apapane (2010), Gentildonna (2012) and Almond Eye (2018) while standing alone as an unbeaten.

“The filly seemed a bit nervous at the paddock,” Matsuyama said, “but she broke well and we were able to race in good position and in good rhythm. There was some pressure as we were aiming for the first undefeated Triple Crown filly in JRA history, but I’m delightful to be able to accomplish this remarkable feat.

“I want to thank the filly and offer her my congratulations. She has developed into a bold filly and I hope that she will remain undefeated.”

Development is the operative word. Daring Tact weighed in 14 kilograms heavier for the Shuka Sho, at 480 kilograms, than her previous standard through the spring. Since sire Epiphaneia progressed from a pair of classic placings to take the Kikuka Sho in the fall of 2013, and earned his signature win as a 4-year-old in the 2014 Japan Cup (G1), it’s possible that Daring Tact has more to offer.

The Nov. 29 renewal of the Japan Cup is among her upcoming options – and a potential showdown with Contrail.