June 24, 2024

Chuwa Wizard weaves his magic in Champions Cup

Chuwa Wizard
Chuwa Wizard wins the 2020 Champions Cup (Horsephotos.com)

The first four from last year’s Champions Cup (G1) once again swept the superfecta in the dirt feature at Chukyo, only Sunday’s renewal witnessed a surprising switch of the bookends. Chuwa Wizard, who didn’t have a clear trip when fourth in the 2019 running, enjoyed an untrammeled passage to victory, while defending champion Chrysoberyl checked in a flat fourth. Runner-up Gold Dream and third-placer Inti replicated their results.

The 12-1 fourth choice, Chuwa Wizard had scored several notable wins, including the 2019 JBC Classic and Jan. 29 Kawasaki Kinen, but over further. And he’d yet to beat Chrysoberyl, finishing third in the June 24 Teio Sho and again when trying to repeat in the Nov. 3 JBC Classic. But the well-bred son of King Kamehameha put up a career-best effort here, under a fine ride by Keita Tosaki.

Chrysoberyl, the 2-5 favorite, appeared to overcome post 15 when securing a cozy stalking spot in fourth. Up front, Air Almas was pressed by Inti, who ratcheted up his challenge turning for home.

Chuwa Wizard was reserved a little further behind Chrysoberyl, close enough to monitor the favorite. Tosaki hadn’t ridden Chuwa Wizard in more than two years, but he knew his proclivities well enough, and realized he needed to be stoked up to deliver his rally in time. Thus on the far turn, he was being driven, while Chrysoberyl was ostensibly traveling better.

As the field straightened into the stretch, however, Chuwa Wizard began to find a lot more than the uncharacteristically one-paced Chrysoberyl. Inti finally put away Air Almas to grab the lead, only to have Chuwa Wizard mow him down to win going away by 2 1/2 lengths.

Gold Dream, the 2017 Champions Cup winner, closed stoutly to deny Inti second by a neck – the exact same margin that separated them a year ago. Chrysoberyl suffered his first defeat on Japanese soil, another three-quarters of a length back.

Mozu Ascot motored from near the back to get up for fifth, clocking the joint-fastest final 3-furlong split in :36.4 along with Chuwa Wizard. Cafe Pharoah, the lone 3-year-old, was not disgraced in sixth. Air Spinel, Time Flyer, Arctos, Air Almas, Clincher, Sunrise Nova, Another Truth, Satono Titan, Meisho Wazashi, and Yoshio (last in the Japan Cup [G1] too) rounded out the order of finish.

“The horse was in very good condition and felt really good,” Tosaki said of Chuwa Wizard. “With Chrysoberyl traveling in front, I was able to feel his response while marking the race favorite. As it takes time for him to accelerate, I urged him to go early and the horse responded with great strength.”

By completing about 1 1/8 miles in 1:49.3, Chuwa Wizard not only earned his first JRA Grade 1, but also garnered an automatic berth to the Feb. 20 Saudi Cup. Owner Shinobu Nakanishi and trainer Ryuji Okubo could be willing to take up the offer, since Chuwa Wizard had shipped to Dubai in March for the canceled World Cup (G1).

The 5-year-old improved his record to 18-10-3-4 and avenged his one unplaced effort here last December. Chuwa Wizard has now won or placed in a total of 11 black-type events. His prior JRA graded results came in 2019, a score in the about 1 3/16-mile Heian (G3) at Kyoto and a second to Inti in the Tokyo TV Hai Okai (G2) at this track and trip. More often competing in the dirt opportunities afforded by NAR tracks, Chuwa Wizard captured the 2018 Nagoya Grand Prix and 2019 Diolite Kinen as well as the aforementioned JBC Classic and Kawasaki Kinen.

Chuwa Wizard hails from the immediate family of Le Vent Se Leve, hero of the 2018 Champions Cup. Their dams are half-sisters. Chuwa Wizard is out of the Durandal mare Chuwa Blossom, a descendant of multiple Grade 3 vixen Dyna Fairy.