2024 February Stakes: Group 1 Review

Venue: Tokyo
Distance: 1600m
Value: ¥259,200,000 (approximately US$1.83 million)

Hidenori Take’s unheralded six-year-old and two-time Listed winner Peptide Nile had failed to place in three lesser Group races previously, but nailed this Group 1 at his first attempt, at odds of 38.0.

This was not a vintage renewal, it must be said. The Group 1 winner Dura Erede brought solid form to the contest, but the high-class Gaia Force and Champagne Color were trying dirt for the first time. Last year’s winner Lemon Pop was absent, with connections opting instead to take the Saudi Cup route.

That left the lightly-raced Omega Guiness as the 3.2 favourite ahead of expected Dubai World Cup contender Wilson Tesoro at 3.9. The former was never a factor, but the latter raced handily, stalking the front-running Don Frankie into the straight, yet he in turn was being shadowed by the wide-running Peptide Nile.

As the front two peaked and faded with 300 metres to race, Yusuke Fujioka drove Peptide Nile to the lead. Gaia Force kept on gradually to nick second at the line, a length and a quarter behind the winner, with the deep-closing Sekifu a neck back in third.

2024 February Stakes: Race Replay

PEPTIDE NILE / G1 February Stakes // Tokyo /// 2024 //// Video by JRA

What They Said

Yusuke Fujioka: “The pace was tough but (Peptide Nile) ran a great race. We were able to sit in a better position than expected, but I didn’t imagine he would take over the lead that early and that easily, the wire seemed very far today … As long as he’s able to run in good rhythm as he did today, I’m sure we can look forward to solid performances in the future.”

The Disappointment

Omega Guiness went into this race as one of the dirt racing division’s brightest young hopes, competing in the Reiko Hara pink silks made famous in recent years by the dirt track superstar Omega Perfume.

OMEGA GUINESS / G1 February Stakes // Tokyo /// 2024 //// Photo by @keiba_vodka44

The four-year-old had raced only five times for three wins and two seconds, the latest being a career-best runner-up finish behind William Barows in the G2 Tokai Stakes. Such was his promise that champion Christophe Lemaire took the reins for trainer Naru Owada.

Omega Guiness was a bit tardy at the break, recovered quickly to race seventh on the outer, but never seemed to be travelling with much fluidity. Asked for an effort 400 metres out, the chestnut found nothing and folded tamely to 14th of 16.

David Morgan is Chief Journalist at Idol Horse. As a sports mad young lad in County Durham, England, horse racing hooked him at age 10. He has a keen knowledge of Hong Kong and Japanese racing after nine years as senior racing writer and racing editor at the Hong Kong Jockey Club. David has also worked in Dubai and spent several years at the Racenews agency in London. His credits include among others Racing Post, ANZ Bloodstock News, International Thoroughbred, TDN, and Asian Racing Report.

View all articles by David Morgan.

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