02/15/2013 6:21PM

Japan: Testa Matta looks to snap five-race losing streak in Grade 1 February

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Defending champion Testa Matta can end a five-race losing streak in Sunday’s $2.45 million February Stakes over a mile on dirt at Tokyo Racecourse, the first Grade 1 of 2013 in Japan.

Testa Matta scored the biggest win of his career in the 2012 February Stakes, but struggled through the rest of the year and in his first start of 2013, a sixth in the Group 3 Negishi Stakes at Tokyo on Jan. 27. During that span, his best result was a second in the Group 2 Breeders’ Gold Cup at Mombetsu last August.

A 7-year-old American-bred by Tapit, Testa Matta is part of a field of 16 in the February Stakes. Owned by Kazumi Yoshida and trained by Akira Murayama, Testa Matta was purchased for $60,000 by Narvick International at the 2008 Barretts March Select sale of 2-year-olds in-training in California.

Testa Matta starts from post 14 and will be ridden by Yasunari Iwata.

The competition includes Curren Black Hill, who won the Grade 1 NHK Mile Cup on turf at Tokyo last May; Espoir City, the winner of the 2010 February Stakes; Wonder Acute, who was second in the Japan Cup Derby at Hanshin in December; and Grape Brandy, who won the Group 2 Tokai Stakes at Chukyo on Jan. 20.