06/27/2009 11:00PM

Dream Journey captures Takarazuka Kinen

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Dream Journey scored his first Grade 1 victory in nearly three years at Hanshin on Sunday when he won the $2.6 million Takarazuka Kinen at Hanshin. The 5-year-old Yasutoshi Ikee-trained son of Stay Gold beat Sakura Mega Wonder by 1 3/4 lengths as the 3-5 favorite Deep Sky disappointed again in finishing third, a neck behind the runner-up.

Settling in ninth early under Kenichi Ikezoe in the 14-runner field, the 6-1 Dream Journey led at the eighth pole in clocking 2:11.30 for the 1 3/8 miles on firm ground. Third last time in the two-mile Spring Tenno Sho, he had the winner of that race, Meiner Kitz, back in seventh with the Tenno Sho runner-up, Al Nasrain, sixth. He had previously beaten Deep Sky by a neck when winning the 1 1/4-mile, Grade 2 Osaka Hai.

Dream Journey is a Hanshin specialist as he had also won the 1 1/4-mile Asahi Challenge Cup here last September as well as the 1 1/2-mile Kobe Shimbun Hai a year earlier. His last Grade 1 triumph had been at Nakayama on Dec. 10, 2006, when his victory in the Futurity Stakes elevated him to the Japanese juvenile championship. As a 3-year-old, however, he was only able to finish eighth behind Victory in the Japanese 2000 Guineas and fifth in the Japanese Derby won by Vodka.