03/27/2015 4:04PM

Takamatsunomiya Kinen first Grade 1 of year in Japan


Aerovelocity and Straight Girl, the first- and third-place finishers of the Group 1 Hong Kong Sprint at Sha Tin last December, are the leading contenders in Sunday’s $1,658,831 Takamatsunomiya Kinen at about six furlongs at Chukyo Racecourse in Japan.

The Takamatsunomiya Kinen is the first Grade 1 of the year on turf on the Japan Racing Association calendar.
The race drew a field of 18, including Copana Richard, the winner of the 2014 race, and Daiwa Maggiore, Mikki Isle and Robe Tissage, the first three finishers of the Grade 3 Hankyu Hai at Hanshin Racecourse on March 1.

Aerovelocity, a 7-year-old New Zealand-bred gelding by Pins, was second in the Chairman’s Sprint Prize at Sha Tin on Feb. 15. Aerovelocity is the only foreign-based runner in the Takamatsunomiya Kinen, which is run on a left-handed course with a sharp rise of more than six feet through the final quarter-mile.

Straight Girl is one of six females in the field. A 6-year-old mare, Straight Girl drew the outside post for her first start since the Hong Kong Sprint.

The race has one American-bred in the 6-year-old mare Little Gerda. A Kentucky-bred by Closing Argument, Little Gerda won the Grade 1 Centaur Stakes at Niigata, Japan, last September. She was sixth in the Grade 3 Ocean Stakes at Nakayama Racecourse on March 7.