03/25/2012 2:49PM

Japan: Champion sprinter Curren Chan collects Grade 1 win by a neck

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Curren Chan was Japan’s champion sprinter of 2011, largely on the basis of her win in the Grade 1 Sprinters Stakes last October.

Sunday at Chukyo Racecourse, the 5-year-old mare by Kurofune staked an early claim to the 2012 title with a victory in the Grade 1 Takamatsunomiya Kinen, the first race at the level in Japan this year.

Ridden by Kenichi Ikezoe for trainer Takayuki Yasuda, Curren Chan raced near the front throughout, took the lead in early stretch, and won by a neck over San Carlo. Curren Chan ran about six furlongs on turf in 1:10.30. Yasuda had four starters in the field of 18 and finished third and fourth with Lord Kanaloa and Dasher Go Go.

The race was worth $2.4 million and was run on a course that had been renovated in the last year and features an uphill finish.

Curren Chan, owned by Takashi Suzuki, has won 9 of 15 starts and four graded stakes in her career.