Japanese filly wins American Oaks race
INGLEWOOD, Calif. (AP) -- Japanese filly Cesario pulled away at the top of the stretch and went on to a four-length victory in the $750,000 American Oaks on Sunday at Hollywood Park.
Cesario became the first Japanese-bred to win a Grade 1 race in the United States, triggering a huge winner's circle celebration that featured the Japanese flag waving on a most American holiday weekend.
"I love America," winning trainer Katsuhiko Sumii said through an interpreter. "I've had a dream of winning in American racing; I am very happy."
Breaking from post 13 on the far outside, Cesario ran 1 1/4 miles on the turf in a stakes record time of 1:59.03 and paid $10.80, $4.60 and $3.80.
Also Sunday, Unfurl the Flag won the $350,000 Triple Bend Handicap; Splendid Blended won the $300,000 Vanity Handicap; and Whilly won the $250,000 American Handicap.
The Oaks was televised live in Japan, where it was already Monday.
Jockey Yuichi Fukunaga pumped his right arm entering the winner's circle aboard the 3-year-old filly, who was draped with a blanket of red and white carnations in an American flag pattern.
"She ran her best race here," he said through an interpreter.
Cesario upset 6-5 wagering favorite Melhor Ainda, trained by Bobby Frankel and undefeated in four previous career starts that she won by a combined 17 3/4 lengths.