06/27/2010 12:00AM

Huge upset in Grade 1 at Hanshin


Nakayama Festa sprung a 36-1 surprise at the expense of Buena Vista in the Grade 1, $2.8 million Takarazuka Kinen at Hanshin Racecourse near Osaka on Sunday as he collared the 7-5 favorite near the line for a handy half-length victory. Trained by Yoshitaka Ninomiya and ridden by Yoshitomi Shibata, the winning 4-year-old son of Stay Gold covered the 1 3/8 miles on firm ground in 2:13 flat.

Nakayama Festa was allowed to settle in 11th or 12th place early as Buena Vista took closer order than usual by racing in fourth along the rail. Shortly after entering the stretch, a gap appeared for the Special Week filly and she took advantage of it and led at the furlong pole. Buena Vista was unable to assert her authority, however, and Nakayama Festa caught her about 50 yards from the wire without Shibata using his whip.

It was another half-length back from Buena Vista to Earnestly in third with Dream Journey the same margin away in fourth.

Nakayama Festa had won the key Japanese St. Leger prep, the St. Lite Kinen, last fall but was 12th in the St. Leger itself. He concluded his 3-year-old campaign with a dull 13th behind Earnestly in the Grade 3 Chunichi Shimbun Hai, but looked sharp in his April 24 seasonal debut when scoring a two-length victory in the listed 1 1/2-mile Metropolitan Stakes at Tokyo, where he was ridden for the first time by Shibata.

Buena Vista, who came from much further out of it for her four career Grade 1 victories, may have lost the better part of her usual late run by running so close to the pace, and her connections at Sunday Racing Co. Ltd. must be disappointed with the effort.