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Master Fencer’s valiant American swing came to a rather unspectacular end with a 13th-place finish in the $1 million Belmont Derby Invitational on Saturday, when unheralded Jodie did Japanese racing proud by coming in fourth in the $750,000 Belmont Oaks Invitational.

Master Fencer had turned heads this spring by finishing sixth and fifth in the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes, respectively, with Julien Leparoux in the saddle as the colt took a shot at the American Triple Crown. But returning to the turf on Saturday – a surface he has never won on in Japan – the son of triple Grade 1 champion Just a Way passed the post second to last among 14 runners.

The glory in the 70th running of the Belmont Derby – the first leg of the Turf Trinity – belonged to Henley’s Joy who cut a winning time of 1 minute, 58.29 seconds over 2,000 meters on firm grass at Belmont Park. The Michael Maker-trained long-shot at odds of 20 to 1 took home a prize of $535,000, over Social Paranoia.

Despite the result, Koichi Tsunoda, the trainer for Master Fencer, was anything but down after the race.

“He traveled well in a position we were happy with, considering how fast the pace was,” Tsunoda said. “I thought this whole trip was very meaningful to us because until you actually go out and do something, there’s no way of knowing what you can and can’t achieve.”

“Fortunately, we have an owner who has the guts and courage to take chances and thanks to his decision, we experienced a lot and learned a great deal from our time here. But above all, we’re glad our horse got through it all in one piece.”

With Suguru Hamanaka replacing Leparoux, Master Fencer – the first Japanese bred to run in both the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes – tried to take the race early to a field that saw He’s No Lemon scratched and Demarchelier pull up midway through.

But clearly not the same as he is on dirt where he flashes a devastating closing rush, Master Fencer was effectively out of contention and tired with two, three furlongs to go. Hamanaka, however, echoed the sentiments of the horse’s trainer, saying Master Fencer’s tour through the United States was more than about trying to win in a country where the Japanese contingent has not had the kind of success its had in other parts of the world.

“Speaking to the trainer he wanted me to push him towards the front so I did. There wasn’t much pressure from elsewhere and managed to get a much better position than I anticipated,” Hamanaka said of Master Fencer, out of Sexy Zamurai, by Deputy Minister.

“He’s not the quickest to respond and tends to fall behind around the final bend so I wanted to make my move early, but we just couldn’t stay when the pace started picking up.”

“I owe a huge debt of gratitude to the owner, trainer and everyone else involved for this incredible experience – most of all Master Fencer himself, who I can’t thank enough for his effort.”

On the same terms as the Belmont Derby Invitational, Jodie raised a lot of eyebrows in the Belmont Oaks Invitational, throwing down the gauntlet for what could be an intriguing autumn campaign for the Daiwa Major daughter. The Hirofumi Toda-trained filly went off as the eighth betting favorite in a small party of nine, with third-year jockey Miyabi Muto handling the rein.

Though only 21, Muto showed poise and purpose aboard Jodie, coaxing his partner out of the gate and setting the pace for most of the race. It wasn’t until Jodie came under pressure from Concrete Rose, the second favorite overall, midway through the final straight that she conceded the lead and crossing the line a respectable fourth, less than five lengths out of first.

Concrete Rose’s jockey Leparoux felt Jodie played a part in changing the complexion of the race, which was expected to be dictated by top pick Newspaperofrecord before the race.

"I thought (trainer Chad Brown’s) horse (Newspaperofrecord) would be on the lead unless they came for her, but I guess today they tried something new and took her back a little bit," Leparoux said.

"The Japanese horse wanted to go, so I was happy to be second and my filly relaxed beautiful for me the whole race. I knew at the quarter pole, I had a lot left. She made a big run at the end. It was nice."

Toda, naturally, gushed with praise for Jodie after her performance, which somewhat came out of the blue. Jodie has yet to win a graded race in Japan – she had two wins from nine starts, both by Muto – and in her most recent start, was coming off a 14th-place finish in the Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks).

“Looking back at it overall, she ran a heck of a race,” Toda said. “I thought she was very convincing. This trip is one we can build on going forward because it turned out to be a terrific experience for both the jockey and horse.”

“We found out she can hold her own up to 2,000 meters, won’t embarrass herself out there which now gives us a lot of options looking ahead.”

Muto, one of the most promising riders in the Japan Racing Association, said Jodie had been adjusting well to Belmont Park ever since her arrival on June 29.

“Probably the most important factor was that she acclimatized to the conditions here very well,” Muto said. “I also had the fortune of being part of an excellent team who offered more support than I could ever have asked for.”

“(Jodie) got off to a clean start and I thought she traveled really well. She began pushing herself from the next to last turn but the winner had us marked and got us in the end, which was a shame.”

Concrete Rose, trained by George Arnold II, held on for victory in 1:59.97 by almost three lengths ahead of Just Wonderful to collect the $400,000 winner’s check.

Fujita wins Women Jockeys' World Cup02 Jul 6:20 pm

Nanako Fujita, in her fourth year as a JRA jockey and the only female rider in JRA, demonstrated her winning ways outside of Japan this time, winning the Women Jockeys' World Cup title on Sunday at Bro Park in Stockholm, Sweden.

Competed among 10 female riders, the winner was decided on a point system over five races. Fujita, with 16 wins this year for a total of 63 career victories, won the second leg of the competition and, sitting in third place before the last race with just three points separating the first three, she took home the grand prize by winning a 2,100m race. Fujita finished with 48 points, with defending champion and Sweden's Josefin Landgren coming in second with 43 points and Britain's Jane Elliot rounding out the top three with 38.

Said Fujita (via the Women Jockeys' World Cup website): "It’s unbelievable I am really happy. It is the first time I have ridden a winner outside of Japan. Travelling to Sweden and riding Swedish horses has been a very good experience for me and I hope I can inspire other female riders. I am thankful to my trainer in Japan and my parents and to Svesnk Galopp for inviting me to Sweden."

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Lys Gracieux Outruns Male Rivals in This Year's Gr24 Jun 3:24 pm

Third favorite Lys Gracieux, the only female in a field of 12 strong runners, claimed the 60th running of the all-star Takarazuka Kinen to become the fourth filly/mare to claim the spring Grand-Prix since Marialite in 2016. Capturing her first G1 title in last year’s Queen Elizabeth II Cup (G1, 2,200m) at Kyoto in November, she was runner-up in both the following Hong Kong Vase (G1, 2,400m) in December and the Kinko Sho (G2, 2,000m) in March and came off a third in Hong Kong’s Queen Elizabeth II Cup (G1, 2,000m) in April. This win marked trainer Yoshito Yahagi’s seventh JRA-G1 win following his Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks) title with Loves Only You in May. For jockey Damian Lane, this marked his second JRA-G1 title following his win in the Victoria Mile with Normcore in May. Lane registered 37 victories including six graded titles riding in JRA races under a short-term license between the end of April and this weekend.

Quick out of the gate, Lys Gracieux rushed out from the outermost draw and settled unusually toward the front to press the pace behind Kiseki. Turning the last corner outside the frontrunner, still in second, the 5-year-old daughter of Heart’s Cry made bid immediately after entering the lane, dueled strongly with the race favorite until overtaking the front 200 meters out and shifted into higher gear to easily pull away for a clean three-length victory.

“The horse turned out in perfect condition. I was very lucky to be able to board her today. She broke well and I thought I might as well use that to my advantage. I was very confident turning in that she had plenty left in the tank and I was worried that there were a lot of good horses chasing and I thought that they would challenge but she was just too strong,” commented Damian Lane.

Race favorite Kiseki, though breaking somewhat slowly from the innermost draw, took the front as usual to set the pace and continued to hold on well even after entering the homestretch. The son of Rulership, however, ran out of fuel in the last 200 meters while still managing to come in second.

Sixth pick Suave Richard traveled wide behind Lys Gracieux, around fourth from the front, and continued to chase the eventual winner until the wire, nailing Al Ain along the way to finish two lengths behind Kiseki in third.

Other Horses:
4th: (4) Al Ain—tracked leaders in 3rd, overtaken by Suave Richard 200m out, no match for top finishers
5th: (2) Rey de Oro—saved ground in 6th, entered 5th to straight, failed to close in on front runners
6th: (10) Noble Mars—ran in 8th, circled wide, passed tired rivals
7th: (6) Stiffelio—raced in 5th, entered 6-7th to lane, even paced
8th: (9) Clincher—traveled in 7th, driven after 3rd corner, failed to respond
9th: (3) Etario—settled in 10th, made headway after 3rd corner, lacked needed kick at straight
10th: (8) Shonan Bach—sat 2nd from last along rails, never fired at stretch
11th: (7) Makahiki—trailed in far rear, struggled to find clear path, unable to reach contention
12th: (5) Tatsu Gogeki—hugged rails in 9th, showed little at stretch

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Takarazuka Kinen (G1) - Preview18 Jun 3:50 pm

Hanshin Racecourse hosts the Takarazuka Kinen on Sunday, June 23, the grand finale to the heady heights of spring racing in Japan and the final Grade 1 event until the Sprinters Stakes kicks off the autumn campaign at the end of September. Along with the Arima Kinen (The Grand Prix) at year-end, the Takarazuka Kinen is a bow to Japan’s racing fans, who cast votes for their favorite horses, those they most want to see in the lineup. A 2,200-meter turf event, the Takarazuka Kinen marks its 60th running this year and currently boasts a purse of JPY325 million and a winner’s prize of JPY150 million.

Coming at the end of a long season, the field of the Takarazuka Kinen tends to be small and, this year, 12 horses are expected to compete. Fan-ballot No. 1 pick Almond Eye is not among them, but the next three ballot favorites are – Rey de Oro, Kiseki and Al Ain. Three other Grade 1 champions will join them – Makahiki, Suave Richard and Lys Gracieux. Three of the six are taking on the Takarazuka Kinen directly after returning from racing overseas, a factor that considerably raises the bar for finding a winning wager.

Run over the right-handed Hanshin inner course, the race starts at the far right of the stands, with 530 meters to the first turn. Out of the gate, the track rises two meters from 200 meters before the finish line, and from early in the backstretch, the course slopes gently downward until hitting the stretch hill once again 200 meters out.

The Takarazuka Kinen is the 11th race on the Sunday card of 12 at Hanshin. Post time is 15:40 local time. Here’s a look at the likely popular horses.

Kiseki: The 5-year-old Rulership-sired Kiseki captured the 2017 classic Kikuka Sho (Japanese St. Leger) and is looking, after six Grade 1 bids both at home and abroad, to notch his second big win. Winless in his last eight starts since the Kikuka Sho, Kiseki has not been far off the top and has figured in winning wagers in half of those starts. In last year’s Japan Cup, he ran second to Almond Eye and last out in the Osaka Hai, he finished only a neck behind winner Al Ain. Kiseki’s strong points are not only his speed but his stamina, and since changing his racing style to a more forward position from five starts ago, he has missed the top three spots only once. Kiseki has also matured and powered up. He’s racing a good 10kg heavier than he was for last year’s Takarazuka Kinen, in which he finished eighth, 0.9 seconds off the winner. Yuga Kawada, who has ridden his past five starts, is scheduled for the ride on Sunday. Three Kikuka Sho winners have won this race over the past decade.

Rey de Oro: Also 5 years old is Rey de Oro, a son of King Kamehameha. Winner of two Grade 1s, the 2017 Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby) and the 2018 Tenno Sho (Autumn), Rey de Oro is returning from Dubai, where he finished sixth in the Dubai Sheema Classic (2,410 meters, G1) at Meydan on March 30. Agitated on the day, Rey de Oro was unable to perform at his best, but back on home turf, racing in the daylight and at the track where he captured the Grade 2 Kobe Shimbun Hai (2,400 meters), he is likely to fare better. He has also won at the distance, albeit at Nakayama, in the Grade 2 Sankei Sho All Comers. Nonetheless, though the Miho-based Rey de Oro has been getting regular work and has handled the long trip west well before, his mindset on raceday will be key. Christophe Lemaire is set for the ride and is undoubtedly eager to make up for missed time. He will be gunning for his fourth JRA Grade 1 win of the year. Only three Japan-based jockeys have won four Grade 1 races in the first half of the year since the graded system was inaugurated in 1984 – Yutaka Take twice, Katsumi Ando and Yuichi Fukunaga once.

Suave Richard: The 5-year-old Heart’s Cry-sired Suave Richard is also returning from Dubai, where he beat Rey de Oro over the line in the Dubai Sheema Classic with his third-place finish. Though his most competitive racing has come racing to the left, Suave Richard aced the Osaka Hai (2,000 meters) last year at Hanshin. Though he has not made the winner’s circle in his five starts since, he has three thirds in Grade 1 company. Mirco Demuro is scheduled for the ride.

Al Ain: A son of Deep Impact, the 5-year-old was victorious in this year’s Osaka Hai, last out on March 31. Topping three other Takarazuka Kinen hopefuls, it was his first win in 11 starts, his first since winning the 2017 Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas). Those 11 starts (all in graded-stakes races) did include three seconds and two thirds, however. Al Ain did have the advantage of an inside draw in the Osaka Hai, but wearing blinkers since two races ago seems to have helped. Able to handle a mile, Al Ain has the power to do well on a heavy track, always a possibility during the rainy season. He finished fourth in his only previous start racing under 58kg, but is expected to still prove competitive Sunday.

Lys Gracieux: The only female in the lineup is the 5-year-old daughter of Heart’s Cry. She is just back from a third-place finish in Hong Kong’s Queen Elizabeth II Cup (2,000 meters, G1) at Sha Tin Racecourse on April 28, her second Hong Kong race in some five months after running second in the Hong Kong Vase. Before that, she captured her first Grade 1 with the Queen Elizabeth II Cup (2,200 meters, G1) at Kyoto, where she ran under 56kg, the same as she’ll carry in the Takarazuka Kinen. Sandwiched in between her overseas excursions was a second-place finish in the Grade 2 Kinko Sho over 2,000 meters. That’s three races competing against male horses where Lys Gracieux has finished in the money. A highly consistent runner, she has only figured out of the top three in three of her 19 career starts. That record, her late speed and weight advantage definitely call for a wager. Australian rider Damian Lane is expected to have the ride.

Etario: Of the Takarazuka Kinen entrants which have not yet captured a Grade 1 race, the 4-year-old colt Etario is attracting the most attention. He has only one win in 11 starts, but has, frustratingly, finished in second place seven times. The other three times he ran fourth. His last six starts have been in graded-stakes races, three of them Grade 1s and last out, he ran fourth in the 3,200-meter Tenno Sho (Spring) on April 28 while carrying 58kg. The colt has a tendency to quit running once away from the pack, but the shallower blinkers he wore last out are said to have helped him race more aggressively. Etario is sired by Stay Gold, whose progeny hold the record for most wins (five) in the Takarazuka Kinen. Paired with the colt for the first time is Norihiro Yokoyama, who has two wins of the Takarazuka, the last in 2014 aboard Gold Ship.
Another to watch is Makahiki, 2016 winner of the Japanese Derby. Sidelined for eight months with a fracture, he returned to finish second in the Grade 2 Sapporo Kinen in August 2018, but posted a lackluster 7-10 in his next two starts (both Grade 1s) through the end of the year. He started 2019 with a close third in Grade 2 company over 2,200 meters, then ran fourth in the Osaka Hai, only 0.2 seconds behind winner Al Ain. The extra distance this time should help this late closer.

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Master Fencer finishes fifth in the Belmont Stakes10 Jun 1:53 pm

Japanese glory in the American Triple Crown will have to wait for another day as the Koichi Tsunoda-trained Master Fencer finished fifth in the Belmont Stakes on Saturday evening.

Master Fencer, by triple Grade 1 champion in Japan Just a Way out of the Deputy Minister dam Sexy Zamurai, crossed the finish line almost three lengths behind the race’s new champion Sir Winston, trained by Mark Casse – who also works War of Will, winner of the Preakness Stakes, the second leg of the Triple Crown.

War of Will, the second choice in a field of 10, ended up a disappointing ninth. Tacitus, the top betting favorite, was runner-up a length behind Sir Winston with least-favored Joevia taking third. Sir Winston ran the 2,400 meters in 2 minutes, 28.30 seconds.

Tsunoda and jockey Julien Leparoux were gracious in defeat as they attempted to improve on Lani’s third-place finish in 2016 under Yutake Take in the “Test of the Champion.” Master Fencer was the eighth pick in the final leg of the U.S. Triple Crown.

“The horse was in excellent form and ran as well as he could,” the French-born Leparoux said of Master Fencer, who will leave for his trip back to Japan on Thursday. “But the pace was slow and I tried to get him going ahead of the final bend but he got left behind. He showed a lot of kick down the stretch, however, something he can be proud of.”

Master Fencer was trying to become the first Japanese-trained horse to win a G1 dirt race on United States soil. Go And Go, of Ireland in 1990, remains as the only non American-trained colt to have won the Belmont Stakes in the race’s 151-year history – the oldest of the U.S. Classic races.

After placing an impressive sixth in the May 4 Kentucky Derby on the slop at Churchill Downs, Master Fencer – the first horse bred in Japan to run in the Belmont Stakes – broke well from the No. 3 post and took a seat at the back for most of the journey along the railing to his style, blessed with far better than he had in the Derby a month ago.

Master Fencer made a valiant effort turning for home from the outside but by the time Leparoux’s mount hit top gear, Sir Winston and the frontrunners were well in the clear for the finish and a winner’s check of US$800,000 from a purse of US$1.5 million. Master Fencer did not run in the Preakness on May 18 at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland.

Tsunoda felt his horse could have done better but still proud of Master Fencer at the same time.

“We got off to a good start. The pace was gentle early on but it picked up going into the next to last turn and he just couldn’t keep up,” he said.

“It’s all part and parcel of racing so it is what it is but it’s tough to deal with because we were all in it to help Master Fencer win. The horse ran his heart out for sure. We’ll have to see how he recovers before deciding on when to race him next.”

Casse, the 10-time Sovereign Award winner, Canadian Thoroughbred Hall of Fame member and 2019 nominee to the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, was a happy camper the morning following the race.

“I'm not a drinker,” said the trainer, who was quoted by the official website of the Belmont Stakes. “But last night we all went out to dinner and the restaurant where we ate had a specialty drink on the menu called the Sir Winston.”

“So, I had one. It probably helped me sleep because I don't usually have one. I actually slept last night, and I slept good."
"There are lots of things going on right now. It usually takes me a few days, but we're very excited to win the Belmont. That was a great ride by Joel (Rosario).”

Master Fencer’s owner Katsumi Yoshizawa termed it all a good learning experience for his team.
“I had a really good time here and enjoyed the experience," Yoshizawa said. "I learned a lot for next time."

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Last week Results

  • Highest Payout
  • Return Rate
Rank Tipster Race Payoff
1 Masked Doctor Ei Masked Doctor Ei
13 Jul Fukushima5R
1,040 281,900
2 Hahahafuhohoho Hahahafuhohoho
14 Jul Hakodate12R
1,770 162,800
3 shinzanmono shinzanmono
14 Jul Hakodate4R
79,700 159,400
4 aomaru aomaru
14 Jul Hakodate3R
1,300 128,700
5 Seiryu No.1 Seiryu No.1
13 Jul Hakodate10R
5,840 116,800

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Rank Tipster No.of
1 nige nige
11R 332% 36% 152,900 54,650
2 Creek Creek
20R 151% 60% 32,080 7,865
3 E.Yamazaki E.Yamazaki
8R 125% 62% 20,310 20,062
4 K.Souma K.Souma
56R 101% 35% 2,340 10,007

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Tip Coliseum --Japan's Biggest Racing Tips Arena! Are you Going to Compete? Or just Watch?

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 Tournament Info:Tournament 157 is currently being held!(13 Jul - 4 Aug)

Tournament 157 Latest result

Rank Tipster Level
Deviation Return
Revoh Revoh
91.6 1569%
a437ac458e a437ac458e
83.9 624%
pazulu7 pazulu7
80.5 262%
de49760d4e de49760d4e
80.1 294%
tazawako tazawako
79.8 252%

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