International racing rolls to year's end with big win, promise for 2024

By Robert Kieckhefer, UPI Racing Writer
Do Deuce wins Sunday's Grade 1 Arima Kinen at Nakayama Racecourse in Japan. Photo by and courtesy of Katsumi Saito
Do Deuce wins Sunday's Grade 1 Arima Kinen at Nakayama Racecourse in Japan. Photo by and courtesy of Katsumi Saito

Dec. 27 (UPI) -- There was plenty of promise for the New Year in weekend horse racing action in Japan while in Dubai, international runners got off the mark early during weekend competition.

On the last big weekend of the year:



Do Deuce, with Yutaka Take back aboard after a prolonged separation, rallied from well back in the quality field to win Sunday's Grade 1 Arima Kinen at Nakayama Racecourse. The field included eight individual Grade 1 or Group 1 winners and three Japan Derby champs, including Do Deuce.

The 4-year-old son of Heart's Cry waited patiently, closed on pacesetting Titleholder through the stretch and was up late to get the win with Stars on Earth rallying right behind to deny Titleholder second. The favorite, Justin Palace, finished fourth.

"The colt was a bit keen and I had to keep him in hand and maintain a good rhythm and not let him rush," Take said. "I gave him the go from about 700 meters out. His response was very good rounding the last corner and he gave a terrific late charge to the wire."


"It's great to come back with Do Deuce and win this race against some really strong opponents," Take said. "We did have our struggles after winning the Kyoto Kinen early this year. But I was determined to show his true strength and prove what he was really made of in this big race."

Do Deuce, bred by Northern Farm, is out of the Vindication mare Dust and Diamonds. Trained by Yasuo Tomomichi, he races in the gray-and-white checkered silks of Kieffers Co. Ltd.

The Arima Kinen has been the career finale for some of Japan's stars, but trainer Yasuo Tomomichi indicated Do Deuce is expected to carry on, likely with international travel back on

On Saturday, Win Marvel made steady progress through the stretch run in the Grade 2 Hanshin Cup and held on to win by 3/4 length from Grenadier Guards. Aguri was third with a bold late move.

Win Marvel, a 4-year-old colt by I'll Have Another, ran 1,400 meters in 1:19.3. The colt has been a useful player without quite breaking through. Along with four wins, his best previous showing was a second in the Grade I Sprinters Stakes in 2022.

The Grade 1 turf season wraps up Thursday with two budding superstars ready to show what they can do in the Hopeful Stakes at Nakayama Racecourse.


Shin Emperor, a full brother to Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe winner Siyouni, and Gonbade Qabus, a son of promising American turf champion Bricks and Mortar, tower over the field of 2-year-olds. Both are undefeated after two starts and have won graded stakes impressively.


Fans watching Tyler Gaffalione finish a gallant second aboard Intrepid Daydream in Saturday's Grade III Sugar Swirl Stakes at Gulfstream Park may not have realized the extremes the jockey went to for the mount.

In fact, Gaffalione flew more than 7,800 miles from Dubai where on Friday night he booted home Isolate to win the Group 2 Al Maktoum Mile on Festive Friday at Meydan Racecourse.

Isolate, winner of the Group 2 Godolphin Mile on World Cup Night 2023 with Gaffalione up, was the highlight on the marquee race of the evening. He delivered, leading the way to a 3 1/2-length victory over Golden Goal, a stablemate in Doug Watson's yard. The win could be a ticket to the Saudi Cup in February.

"It's a pleasure to be here and thanks to connections for bringing me over," Gaffalione said before heading off to the airport. "He seems a lot stronger this year. I have a ton of confidence in this horse and the way he ran today, I don't think stepping up in distance would be a problem."


The World Cup Carnival has been restructured this season to bring international runners in early and two visitors won on the program.

It also was a successful night for perennial powerhouse trainer Charlie Appleby and jockey William Buick, who collared the second Group 2 race on the program, the Al Rashidiya at 1,800 meters, with Measured Time.

"He's a horse full of promise and it's great to have a winner here on the first night," Buick said. "Today was a new test for him -- first time away from England, first time at Meydan. I still think he's a horse full of potential."

The 3-year-old Frankel colt posted three wins and a second in England on turf and all-weather courses.

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