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The closest thing horse racing has to finding the Holy Grail is winning a Triple Crown but in Japan the coveted feat of winning the three senior Classics has already been achieved three times this century.
Japan’s Triple Crown starts with the Satsuki Sho in April, rolls into the Tokyo Yushun in late May and concludes in October with the stamina-testing final leg, the Kikuka Sho.
Eight horses in total have won Japan’s Triple Crown and Deep Impact’s Kikuka Sho win in 2005 sealed the first Triple Crown this century. Orfevre followed the great one’s example six years later and Deep Impact’s brilliant son Contrail proved to a be a chip off the old block in 2020. The Kikuka Sho was first run in 1938 at its home venue Kyoto. The race was moved to Hanshin in 2021 and 2022 due to Kyoto’s renovation.
Contrail was being feted as the best thing since Deep Impact when he exited the 2020 Kikuka Sho with a perfect streak of seven wins and a Triple Crown to boot, just like his peerless sire.
The comparison between father and son held firm when Contrail was beaten into second behind Almond Eye in the Japan Cup; after all, Deep Impact had lost his unbeaten tag at his eighth start, too, when second to Heart’s Cry in the 2005 Arima Kinen. But whereas Deep Impact then won five of his six remaining races to seal his iconic status, Contrail’s bubble deflated first-up in May 2021 when he placed third on testing ground in the Osaka Hai.
Rested until the Tenno Sho Autumn, he returned with a top-class second-place behind the three-year-old champion, Efforia. That performance brought Contrail up to his peak and he delivered a dominant victory in the Japan Cup, his last race before retiring to Shadai Stallion Station with a record of eight wins from 11 starts.
|2021||Titleholder||Takeshi Yokoyama||Toru Kurita||Hiroshi Yamada||3:04.6|
|2020||Contrail||Yuichi Fukunaga||Yoshito Yahagi||Shinji Maeda||3:05.5|
|2019||World Premiere||Yutaka Take||Yasuo Tomomichi||Ryoichi Otsuka||3:06.0|
|2018||Fierement||Christophe Lemaire||Takahisa Tezuka||Sunday Racing||3:06.1|
|2017||Kiseki||Mirco Demuro||Katsuhiko Sumii||Tatsue Ishikawa||3:18.9|
|2016||Satono Diamond||Christophe Lemaire||Yasutoshi Ikee||Hajime Satomi||3:03.3|
|2015||Kitasan Black||Hiroshi Kitamura||Hisashi Shimizu||Ono Shoji||3:03.9|
|2014||Toho Jackal||Manabu Sakai||Kiyoshi Tani||Toho Bussan Co Ltd||3:01.0|
|2013||Epiphaneia||Yuichi Fukunaga||Katsuhiko Sumii||U Carrot Farm||3:05.2|
|2012||Gold Ship||Hiroyuki Uchida||Naosuke Sugai||Eiichi Kobayshi||3:02.9|
|2011||Orfevre||Ken-ichi Ikezoe||Yasutoshi Ikee||Sunday Racing||3:02.8|
|2010||Big Week||Yuga Kawada||Hiroyuki Nagahama||Yuzo Tanimizu||3:06.1|
|2009||Three Rolls||Suguru Hamanaka||Kohei Take||Nagai Shoji Co||3:03.5|
|2008||Oken Bruce Lee||Hiroyuki Uchida||Hidetaka Otonashi||Akira Fukui||3:05.7|
|2007||Asakusa Kings||Hirofumi Shii||Ryuji Okubo||Keiko Tahara||3:05.1|
|2006||Song Of Wind||Koshiro Take||Hidekazu Asami||Shadai Racehorse Co.||3:02.7|
|2005||Deep Impact||Yutaka Take||Yasuo Ikee||Kaneko Makoto Holdings Co.||3:04.6|
|2004||Delta Blues||Yasunari Iwata||Katsuhiko Sumii||Sunday Racing||3:04.8|
|2003||That's The Plenty||Katsumi Ando||Kojiro Hashiguchi||Shadai Racehorse Co.||3:04.8|
|2002||Hishi Miracle||Koichi Tsunoda||Masaru Sayama||Masaichiro Abe||3:05.9|
|2001||Manhattan Cafe||Masayoshi Ebina||Futoshi Kojima||Kiyoshi Nishikawa||3:07.2|
|2000||Air Shakur||Yutaka Take||Hideyuki Mori||Lucky Field Co.||3:04.7|