04/02/2017 3:05PM

Kitasan Black wins Osaka Hai in 2017 debut

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Kitasan Black, the winner of the Japan Cup last November, won his first start of 2017 in Sunday’s Grade 1 Osaka Hai at Hanshin Racecourse in Japan.

The $2.084 million Osaka Hai was run as a Grade 1 race for the first time this year. Kitasan Black received a berth in the Group 1 Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown Racecourse on Sept. 10 for the win. He is expected to have his next start in the spring running of the Grade 1 Tenno Sho at Kyoto Racecourse on April 29. Kitasan Black won the 2016 spring running of the Tenno Sho.

Kitasan Black was the 7-5 favorite in the Osaka Hai and won by three-quarters of a length over 16-1 Stephanos, who was third in the Group 1 Hong Kong Cup in Hong Kong last December. Yamakatsu Ace, the winner of the Grade 2 Kinko Sho at Chukyo Racecourse on Feb. 11, finished third.

Makahiki, the winner of the 2016 Japanese Derby, finished fifth, beaten 2 3/4 lengths as the 5-2 second choice. Makahiki was 14th in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Chantilly, France, last October.

Kitasan Black was ridden by Yutaka Take for trainer Hisashi Shimizu. Owned by Ono Shoji, Kitasan Black has won 9 of 15 starts.