Hajime Satomi’s Satono Aladdin conjured up a dazzling late burst to deny Logotype a repeat victory in the final stride of Sunday’s $1.9 million Yasuda Kinen (G1). The prestigious event at Tokyo serves as a “Win and You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) November 4 at Del Mar, although only time will tell if Satono Aladdin will take up the offer.
The full brother to 2014 Queen Elizabeth II Cup (G1) heroine Lachesis had hitherto nibbled at a Grade 1 placing without quite getting there. Fourth to Maurice in the 2015 Mile Championship (G1) and fifth to Mikki Isle in the 2016 renewal, Satono Aladdin was also fourth to Logotype in last year’s Yasuda Kinen.
Unlike last June, when Satono Aladdin was coming off a victory in the Keio Hai Spring Cup (G2), he was only ninth in his May 13 title defense. But that came over a soft Tokyo course. Trainer Yasutoshi Ikee kept the faith that the son of Deep Impact would improve on his preferred firm turf, and the 11-1 shot vindicated his judgment.
Logotype set out to duplicate his front-running masterpiece from a year ago. Immediately hustling from post 16, the defending champion appeared to have gotten away from them in midstretch.
But Satono Aladdin, who had been unhurried near the back of the pack, exploded inside the final sixteenth for jockey Yuga Kawada. So did Red Falx, the Grade 1-winning sprinter seeking to expand his resume at a mile. Satono Aladdin produced a field-best final sectional in :33.5 (for about three furlongs) to nab Logotype by a neck, with Red Falx (:33.7) another neck away in third.
The same margin separated the fourth Greater London and fifth Air Spinel (:33.6), while Hong Kong’s Beauty Only was a close sixth after looking at sea going left-handed and up the hill late. Favored Isla Bonita found himself behind a wall of horses in the stretch, but still appeared a bit one-paced in eighth. Contentment, the international participant from Hong Kong, was in the hunt before winding up 10th of 18.
Satono Aladdin’s final time of 1:31.5 for the 1600 meters was just off Strong Return’s stakes record of 1:31.3 established in 2012.
“I thought he was a horse of great potential since I first rode him last season,” Kawada said, “and I’m delighted to have proved that today. He had a good draw today and everything went as planned. I concentrated on keeping him in a good rhythm and we had a perfect trip and I was able to take him wide for clear sailing. So I had every confidence in pinning the leader, although Logotype was quite persistent – I knew that we had a good chance of winning the race.”
Ikee commented on how important it was for Satono Aladdin to climb that Grade 1 mountain.
“Being a horse with great expectation ever since his debut as a two-year-old, it’s been a long way to finally prove his true ability with his first Grade 1 victory this time, and I am grateful to have been given the opportunity to train such a talented horse.
“He’s had the potential all along, but a Grade 1 title was needed to justify that and I’m glad he did. Although his win is conditional – a good draw and a solid pace over a fast track – if given a chance he has never failed to execute his powerful finishing kick.
“His ninth-place finish in his last start in the Keio Hai Spring Cup had nothing to do with his condition,” Ikee continued “but the slow pace and the soft going worked against him. I just prayed that the weather would be clear and the ground firm to guarantee a good race for Satono Aladdin. He showed a good late kick, and while I wasn’t sure until I saw the finish replay, I was over the moon when his victory was confirmed.
“I hope to add to this victory with further success in his future starts – as for his possibility of overseas challenges, the options are there to be discussed with the owners.”
Satono Aladdin’s two international ventures so far, both to Hong Kong, haven’t panned out. He tried the about 1 1/4-mile Hong Kong Cup (G1) in 2015, but never got involved behind A Shin Hikari in 11th. In December, he returned to Sha Tin for the Hong Kong Mile (G1) and finished a belated seventh of 14, beaten 2 1/2 lengths by Beauty Only. He had the satisfaction of turning the tables at home on Sunday, bringing his scorecard up to 25-8-4-3.
Satono Aladdin was initially on the classic trail, as you’d expect for a colt who won his career debut over a mile and finished third in the about 10-furlong Radio Nikkei Hai Nisai (G3) as a juvenile. But he didn’t progress in graded company at three, checking in third in the 2014 Kyodo News Service Hai (G3), fourth in the Kobe Shimbun Hai (G2), and sixth in the Kikuka Sho (Japanese St Leger) (G1).
Ikee cut him back in trip, and Satono Aladdin responded with two strong Grade 3 placings in 2015. He missed narrowly to A Shin Hikari in the Epsom Cup (G3) and to Danon Platina in the Fuji (G3). After a third over a metric mile in the 2016 Lord Derby Challenge Trophy (G3), he shortened up again to about seven furlongs, and that resulted in his graded breakthrough in the Keio Hai Spring Cup. Last October, Satono Aladdin scored his second graded win over the same 1400-meter distance in Kyoto’s Mainichi Broadcast Swan S. (G2).
The six-year-old is out of the Grade 2-winning Storm Cat mare Magic Storm, who placed in the 2001 Spinaway (G1). Already with two Grade 1 winners to her credit in Lachesis and Satono Aladdin, Magic Storm may yet have a third on the way. Her current sophomore, Flawless Magic (also by Deep Impact), has compiled a trio of graded stakes placings prior to her sixth in the May 21 Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks) (G1). Considering how her full siblings improved with maturity, Flawless Magic has upside herself.