Get to know Gran Alegria
  • # Keiba blog
Learn more about Gran Algeria and the reasons why she is one of the most popular racehorses in the industry.

As one of the most popular and richest sports in the world, the horse racing industry's massive cultural impact is not surprising. As a matter of fact, thousands or even millions of dollars are used to produce high-quality racehorses and competitive jockeys. 

 

With over 21,000 events taking place every year, horse racing hails as one of Japan's most popular sports. It was initially held for festivals and ceremonies only but became popular to the point where modern-style horse racing was introduced. 

 

With the popularity of horse racing in Japan, there are two organizations that oversee all of the tournaments. These are the Japan Racing Association (JRA) and the National Association of Racing (NAR). 

 

The JRA oversees all of the horse racing events held in the ten main racecourses in the metropolitan area. On the other hand, the NAR is responsible for all of the local horse racing tournaments. Aside from the jockeys being recognized in every competition, the racehorses are also rated based on their performance and even their horse racing pedigree, the family tree of a horse. 

 

One of the most popular race horses today is Gran Algeria. She is a Japanese Thoroughbred who won the Saudi Arabia Royal Cup in 2018. It is a G3 horse race for two-year-old Thoroughbreds that usually takes place at the Tokyo Racecourse. It also has a total running distance of 1,600 metres with a total purse prize of ¥71,180,000. 

 

Gran Alegria is a filly with a white star bred owned by Sunday Racing and bred in Japan by Northern Farm. She was also trained by Kazuo Fujisawa and has been ridden by Christophe Lemaire. 

 

Lemaire is a popular French-born jockey who has been winning a lot of races since his debut. He even won the 1,000 Guineas in 2008 and Satsuki Sho in 2019. 

Gran Alegria was from the ninth crop of foals sired by Deep Impact, a well-known Japanese Thoroughbred who won the Japanese Triple Crown in 2005. Deep Impact was also named the Japanese Horse of the Year in 2005 and 2006.  

 

Here is the pedigree of Gran Alegria: 

Sire

Deep Impact 

Grandsire  

Sunday Silence  

Dam

Tapitsfly 

Damsire 

Tapit

Sex

Filly

 

Two-year-old season (2018) 

 

In 2018, Gran Alegria made her debut in a maiden race at the Tokyo Racecourse with a distance of over 1,600 metres. Fortunately, she won by two lengths against her 14 other opponents. 

 

Months later, she raced in the Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes and was the ½ favourite. The race is usually held at the Hanshin Racecourse with a total distance of 1,600 metres. 

 

Three-year-old season (2019) 

 

The following year, the filly began her second campaign in Oka Sho. It is a Japanese G1 flat horse race for three-year-old Thoroughbred fillies. It has a total distance of 1,600 metres with a total purse prize of ¥168,900,000. 

 

There were other sixteen runners including No One, Pourville, and Chrono Genesis. Racing in fourth behind Pourville, Gran Alegria took a leap of faith, ran straight, and won the race. She had a total winning time of 1:32.7 that actually broke the race record set by Almond Eye the previous year. 

 

‘She certainly won strongly today. I was a little bit worried as it was her first time out after a long break. She was unable to make use of her speed in the Asahi Hai Futurity so I made sure this time to secure a good position early on and from there I had every confidence in her exceptional speed’, Lemaire said. 

 

In May, Gran Alegria joined the NHK Mile Cup and was even the odds-on favourite. The NHK Mile Cup is a G1 flat horse race for three-year-old Thoroughbred colts and fillies with a total distance of 1,600 metres. It is usually held at the Tokyo Racecourse with a purse prize of ¥175,200,000. Unfortunately, she finished the race in fourth place behind Admire Mars. 

 

She went on a break and did not join any competition until December for the Hanshin Cup. It is a G2 race usually held at the Hanshin Racecourse with a total distance of 1,400 metres. It also has a total purse prize of ¥134,000,000.

 

Four-year-old season (2020)

 

Since the flat race season was hugely affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, most of the horse racing tournaments were held behind closed doors. This did not stop Gran Alegria from making her first run of the year at the Takamatsunomiya Kinen ridden by Kenichi Ikezoe. It is a G1 flat horse race for four-year-old Thoroughbreds with a distance of 1,200 metres and a total purse prize of ¥281,800,000. Unfortunately, she finished the race in 2nd place.

 

Three months later, Gran Alegria and Ikezoe tried their luck again and became the third choice behind Almond Eye and Indy Champ at Yasuda Kinen. It is a Japanese International G1 Thoroughbred horse race usually held at the Tokyo Racecourse with a total distance of 1,600 metres and a purse prize of ¥190,000,000.

 

The other contenders were Danon Premium, Admire Mars, Normcore, Mr Melody, Persian Knight, and Keiai Nautique. Her fans were losing hope when Gran Alegria settled behind the leading group.

 

However, the race turned upside down when Gran Alegria took the lead at the last 200 metres and won by two and a half lengths from Almond Eye.

 

‘I was focused on keeping her in a good rhythm and in a good position which all worked out beautifully. She just gave her best with such a tenacious run down the stretch’, Ikezoe said.

 

‘I was afraid up to the line that we were going to be caught, especially by Almond Eye. I hurt myself when a chunk of grass hit my eye at the third corner, but it doesn't hurt at all now!’, he added.

 

After almost five months, Gran Alegria joined the Sprinters Stakes. It is a G1 flat horse race for three-year-old Thoroughbreds with a total distance of 1,200 metres and a purse prize of ¥180,500,000. It is usually held at the Nakayama Racecourse every late September or early October. It is also the seventh in the Global Sprint Challenge series followed by The Age Classic and preceded by the July Cup.

 

Some of her opponents were Danon Smash, Kurino Gaudi, Diatonic, Mr Melody, Danon Smash, and Mozu Superflare. Nobody expected Gran Alegria to perform well in this race because she started slow and was actually in the fifteenth place. She finally got her pace, took the lead, and won by two lengths against Danon Smash.

   

I can't believe how strong she is! She was a little slow to get into the rhythm and we were much further back than expected but we did not panic... she certainly showed what she is made of’, Lemaire said.

 

In November, Gran Alegria competed at the Mile Championship with Sailors, Indy Champ, Resistencia, Admire Mars, Lauda Sion, and Persian Knight. Unlike the previous race, the filly had a great start and settled behind the leader of the race. Before the race ended, she had a strong burst of acceleration and won by three-quarters of a length.

  

After the race, Lemaire said that Gran Alegria became a lot easier to ride and is hoping for other good competitions with her in the future. He also emphasized that Gran Alegria is a powerful filly that can compete in more races.

 

With her great performance in 2020, she was voted as the Best Sprinter or Miller at the JRA awards.  Gran Algeria was also rated 121 in the 2020 World’s Best Racehorse Rankings. This means that she became the 34th best racehorse in the world. She is also the first horse to win JRA’s all three G1 mile titles for four-year-olds and above.

 

Overwhelming strong field

 

This year’s Victoria Mile witnessed the Gran Alegria that has never been seen before. In fact, she was the odds-on favourite of the race. From stall six, Gran Alegria settled in 10th position from the front-runner. She sprinted with a powerful drive and made a four-length victory.

 

‘She was very strong as we had all expected. She’s not a very good starter so we settled in mid-division but she raced in a good rhythm. After I took her to the outside entering the lane, she showed a remarkable response and geared up on her own’, Lemaire said.

 

‘She showed that she’s at a different level than her competitors and will probably win more G1 titles going forward. Personally, I am delighted that I was able to score my 1,400th JRA victory today and to win another G1 race’, he added.

  

Aside from winning this race, Gran Alegria also earned a starting position in the Maker’s Mark Breeder’s Cup Filly and Mare Turf, a race included in the Breeder’s Cup Challenge Series. 

 

The Breeder’s Cup is an international series of stakes races wherein all of the winners of the Breeders' Cup Challenge races will receive an automatic starting position. It is also an annual G1 Thoroughbred horse race that is held annually.

 

What’s interesting is that each Breeder’s Cup presents four trophies and a garland of flowers draped over the withers of the winning horse. Most of the Breeder’s Cup winners are also candidates to win an Eclipse Award. It is an American Thoroughbred horse racing award presented to the winner of the race’s divisions. Here are some of the different Eclipse Award categories:

 

  • American Horse of the Year
  • American Champion Two-Year-Old Male Horse
  • American Champion Two-Year-Old Filly
  • American Champion Three-Year-Old Male Horse
  • American Champion Three-Year-Old Filly
  • American Champion Older Dirt Male Horse
  • American Champion Older Dirt Female Horse
  • American Champion Sprint Horse
  • American Champion Female Sprint Horse
  • American Champion Male Turf Horse

Here is the result of the Victoria Mile:

Place

Horse name

Jockey

Trainer

Time

1

Gran Alegria

Christophe Lemaire

Kazuo Fujisawa

1.31.0

2

Rambling Alley

Hayato Yoshida

Yasuo Tomomichi

1.31.7

3

Magic Castle

Keita Tosaki

Sakae Kunieda

1.31.7

4

Dirndl

Taisei Danno

Yutaka Okumura

1.31.8

5

Shigeru Pink Dia

Ryuji Wada

Kunihiko Watanabe

1.31.8

6

Resistencia

Yutaka Take

Takeshi Matsushita

1.31.9

7

Danon Fantasy

Yusuke Fujioka

Mitsumasa Nakauchida

1.31.9

8

Des Ailes

Yuga Kawada

Yasuo Tomomichi

1.31.9

9

Maltese Diosa

Hironobu Tanabe

Takahisa Tezuka

1.32.2

10

Christie

Arata Saito

Haruki Sugiyama

1.32.3

11

Sound Chiara

Kohei Matsuyama

Akio Adachi

1.32.3

12

Red Belle Deesse

Syu Ishibashi

Yuichi Shikato

1.32.4

13

Ria Amelia

Yuichi Fukunaga

Mitsumasa Nakauchida

1.32.4

14

Terzetto

Mirco Demuro

Shoichiro Wada

1.32.4

15

Smile Kana

Daichi Shibata

Yoshiyasu Takahashi

1.32.6

16

Affranchir

Takuya Ono

Tomohito Ozeki

1.32.6

17

Pourville

Kosei Miura

Yasushi Shono

1.32.8

18

Iberis

Manabu Sakai

Koichi Tsunoda

1.36.5


The Victoria Mile

 

The Victoria Mile is a G1 flat horse race for four-year-old and older Thoroughbred mares and fillies over a distance of 1,600 metres. It is usually held at the Tokyo Racecourse in May. The Victoria Mile also has a total purse prize of ¥172,000,000. Aside from Gran Alegria, here are the other winners of the tournament:

 

  • Almond Eye (2020)- ridden by Christophe Lemaire, trained by Sakae Kunieda, and owned by Sunday Racing 
  • Normocore (2019)- ridden by Damian Lane, trained by Kiyoshi Hagiwara, and Seiichi Iketani 
  • Jour Polaire (2018)- ridden by Hideaki Miyuki, trained by Masato Nishizono, and owned by G1 Racing 
  • Admire Lead (2010)- ridden by Christophe Lemaire, trained by Naosuke Suga, and owned by Riichi Kondo  
  • Straight Girl (2015 and 2016)- ridden by Keita Tosaki, Hideaki Fujiwara, and Toshihiro Hirosaki


With the outstanding performance and impressive
horse racing pedigree of Gran Alegria, there is no doubt that she will continue to win local and international races. Well, you better stay tuned to the latest horse racing tournament. Who knows? You might witness Gran Alegria sprinting or a debut of a racehorse who is about to surprise the world with his/her skills.