Horse Racing

Jantar Mantar Remains Undefeated with Futurity Victory

A bold early move by jockey Yuga Kawada turned into the winning formula in the Asahi Hai Futurity (G1) Dec. 17 at Hanshin Racecourse as Jantar Mantar retained his undefeated record with a 1 1/4-length victory.

Jantar Mantar, by Palace Malice  , entered the No. 3 gate on the Hanshin backstretch as one of four undefeated 2-year-olds in the 17-horse field and the favorite. Kawada put the favorable draw to good use, getting off to a clean start, then establishing position on the rail near the middle of the field.

Strauss, pegged as Jantar Mantar’s main rival, got away from the outside stall and jockey Tom Marquand chose to take him quickly to the lead.

As the field negotiated the sweeping outer loop of the turf course, Kawada closed Jantar Mantar up and saw a wide gap between the front runners—an opportunity too good to pass up. He took the chance, hit the lead with some 300 meters left in the 1,600-meter (about 1 mile) race, and hoped for the best.

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Jantar Mantar delivered, fighting off a challenge from previously undefeated Ecoro Walz to nail down the win. Tagano Elpida, a Kizuna  filly, also saw her first defeat, finishing third, while Strauss faded from his early effort to get home 10th.

Kawada, second to Christophe Lemaire in the Japanese jockey standings, said he knew he was taking a shot with the early move.

Jantar Mantar wins the Asahi-Hai Futurity on Sunday, December 17, 2023 at Hanshin Racecourse. Jantar Mantar was ridden by Yuga Kawada, and is trained by Tomokazu Takano, and owned by Shadi Race Horse Co., Ltd. Photo by Sankei Sports
Photo: Sankei Sports

Jantar Mantar and his connections after his victory in the Asahi-Hai Futurity

“I urged him to go a bit earlier than planned as it didn’t seem like we were going to get a clear path,” Kawada said.

Jantar Mantar, trained by Tomokazu Takano for owner Shadai Race Horse Co., Ltd., has come a long way in a short time into the rarified air amid the top the ranks of Japanese 2-year-olds. He won his first start Oct. 8 at Kyoto Racecourse in a newcomer event going 1,800 meters (about 1 1/8 miles) and was immediately put to the test in the Daily Hai Nisai Stakes (G2) Nov. 11 at Kyoto.

His victory in that race led directly to the Futurity start and Kawada said he thinks there’s more on tap from the colt.

“He has a good character and he’s a highly capable horse,” Kawada said. “So I think he will continue to grow and I look forward to his future races.”

Jantar Mantar was bred by Shadai Farm but his pedigree is all-American. His dam, India Mantuana , is a daughter of Wilburn  while his sire is a son of Curlin  .

The victory was especially good news for Darley in Japan, who announced earlier in the week the acquisition of 2013 Belmont Stakes (G1) winner Palace Malice to stand in Japan starting with the 2024 season. Palace Malice previously stood at Three Chimneys Farm in Kentucky, where he sired 2019 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) winner Structor  from his first crop.

Jantar Mantar now stands at the top of his sire’s progeny list and will carry the Palace Malice reputation as he moves into his 3-year-old season.

Takano recognized the potential before the Futurity.

“I hope things go well for him and that he can pull off another win to boost his profile again,” the trainer said.


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