Titleholder continued his upward trajectory in Japan on Sunday with a two-length victory in the Takarazuka Kinen (G1) at Hanshin, a “Win and You’re In” Breeders’ Cup Challenge series prep for the Nov. 5 Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) at Keeneland.
Ridden by Kazuo Yokoyama for owner Hiroshi Yamada and trainer Toru Kurita, Titleholder set a course record of 2:09.70 for 1 3/8 miles in winning the Takarazuka Kinen from Hishi Iguazu. The latter notably finished a nose behind Loves Only You, last year’s Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf (G1) winner and champion turf female, in the Hong Kong Cup (G1) in December.
The Takarazuka Kinen was Titleholder’s fourth win in his last five starts. His other top-level wins during that span include the Kikuka Sho (Japanese St Leger) over 1 7/8 miles in October and the May 1 Tenno Sho (Spring) over two miles, which he won by seven lengths. Both of those wins were also at Hanshin.
Titleholder will reportedly target the Oct. 2 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1) at Longchamp, a prize routinely targeted by Japanese racing interests over the past two decades but which has so far proven elusive.
Two other Breeders’ Cup Challenge events were held Sunday, both in South America. In the Grande Premio de Brasil (G1), at Gavea in Rio de Janeiro, Nautilus registered a 15-1 upset in the 1 1/2-mile prep for the Breeders’ Cup Turf. A son of Drosselmeyer, Nautilus was recording his first career stakes win having twice previously placed at Group 1 level.
Ola Perfecta registered a first Group success when taking the Clasico Pamplona (G1) at Monterrico, Peru, a Breeders’ Cup Challenge series prep for the Filly and Mare Turf, by one length. A daughter of Koko Mambo, Ola Perfecta is out of a half-sister to King’s Bishop (G1) winner Capt. Candyman Can.
The Breeders’ Cup Challenge series continues this coming Saturday with the $750,000 Stephen Foster (G2) at Churchill Downs, a prep for the Classic (G1), and the $250,000 Princess Rooney (G2) at Gulfstream Park, a prep for the Filly and Mare Sprint (G1).