by J. Keeler Johnson
In a thrilling drive to the finish line, Tower of London rallied powerfully to secure his first top-level win in the September 29 Sprinters Stakes (G1) going 1,200 meters at Nakayama Racecourse in Japan.
Bettors established the Godolphin-owned son of Raven’s Pass as the 2.90-1 second choice off his impressive victory in the Centaur Stakes (G2) three weeks ago at Hanshin, where he set a course record of 1:06.70 for 1,200 meters. Danon Smash, who edged Tower of London by less than a length in the August 25 Keeneland Cup (G3), started as the 2.80-1 favorite.
The outcome between these two talented rivals came down to their respective trips. As the well-regarded filly Mozu Superflare sprinted to the front through fractions of :22 and :44.10, Tower of London and Danon Smash raced together toward the rear of the field, about seven or eight lengths off the pace.
But whereas Tower of London was able to shift outside for a clear run coming off the turn, Danon Smash – who broke from post two – was slow to accelerate and missed an opportunity to advance between rivals. Instead, the favorite had to wait for Tower of London to pass before following his rival to the outside.
This difference proved critical, as Tower of London produced a perfectly-timed rally to catch Mozu Superflare by a half-length in 1:07.10, while Danon Smash rallied too late and finished a neck behind the filly in third place.
“I was a bit worried that we were not in a good striking position since the fast track today at Nakayama was definitely an advantage for the front runners,” jockey Christophe Lemaire told the Japan Racing Association. “We had our eyes on Danon Smash who was traveling on the rails so we shifted out. Tower of London has great talent and stretched strongly all the way to the wire today. I knew he was an exceptional horse but he’s getting stronger with every sprint start.”
Formerly a promising miler, Tower of London has successfully reinvented himself as a 1,200-meter specialist, with the Sprinters Stakes marking his best performance to date. Trained by Kazuo Fujisawa, Tower of London earned a “Win & You’re In” berth to the November 2 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1), and Godolphin is open to the possibility of sending Tower of London to Santa Anita.
“We will consult with the trainer over the next few days and make a tentative plan,” said Harry Sweeney, president of Godolphin in Japan, in a news release on the Godolphin website. “Today’s race was a win-and-you’re-in for the Breeders Cup, so we will need to decide on that very soon. Tower of London will remain in training next year and it is very likely that he will travel abroad. Having a really nice horse like him will shorten the winter for us.”