Japan’s 2007 Dirt Horse of the Year, Vermilion continued his dominance of Japanese dirt feature races with a convincing win in the Grade 1 February Stakes held at Tokyo racecourse today in front of a crowd of over 50,000 people.
Ridden cleverly by leading Japanese jockey, Yutaka Take, Vermilion was pushed along in the early stages and settled around 7th on the outside of the field from barrier 15. As expected, the leader in the early stages was 4yo Victory having his first start on dirt, and 6yo mare Daring Heart sat second. Of the favored runners, Vermilion was positioned closest to the lead, with Yasunari Iwata on 2nd favorite Wild Wonder following him all the way. Field Rouge was the 3rd favorite for the race, but unfortunately needed to be pulled up soon after the start when jockey Norihiro Yokoyama sensed he had badly injured himself.
As the field reached the straight, Daring Heart went past Victory to take the lead, but Vermilion and Wild Wonder made their runs down the outside and quickly hit the front. At one stage Wild Wonder went past Vermilion, but when Take showed the favorite the whip, he found plenty and gradually pulled away from Wild Wonder. As Wild Wonder tired, evergreen 8yo Blue Concorde charged through the field to grab 2nd, but even though he was making ground on the leader, Vermilion had too big a break, and the Japanese champion horse went to the line to win by 1 3/4 lengths. Blue Concorde finished 2nd and Wild Wonder held on for 3rd.
Vermilion is a 6 year-old horse by El Condor Pasa out of the Sunday Silence mare Scarlet Lady, and is trained by Sei Ishizaka. He is owned by Sunday Racing Co. Ltd, and was bred by Northern Farm. After today’s victory, he will head to the Dubai World Cup where he will try to improve on his 4th placing from last year – the last time he was beaten in a race.
The Big G