06/26/2011 3:14PM

Earnestly upsets Takarazuka Kinen, earns berth in Breeders' Cup Turf


Earnestly won the first Grade 1 race of his career in a 12-1 upset in Sunday’s $3.2 million Takarazuka Kinen at Hanshin Racecourse in Japan, earning an automatic berth in the Breeders’ Cup Turf at Churchill Downs in November.

A 6-year-old horse, Earnestly was always near the front and won by 1 1/2 lengths over Buena Vista, the 5-year-old mare who is a five-time Grade 1 winner and was Japan’s Horse of the Year in 2009 and 2010.

Ridden by Tetsuzo Sato, Earnestly ran about 1 3/8 miles on turf in 2:10.10, setting a course record on firm ground. Eishin Flash finished third in the field of 16.

Earnestly was third in the 2010 Takarazuka Kinen for owner Koji Maeda and trainer Shozo Sasaki. Before Sunday’s race, he was the multiple winner of Grade 2 and Grade 3 races in Japan.

There were two automatic berths available for the BC Turf in top-class races Sunday. The Group 1 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud in France was won by the filly Sarafina, who is considered a leading candidate for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in Paris in October.