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Japan Cup (G1) - Preview

21 Nov 7:34 pm

The international gala that is the Japan Cup is upon us. On Sunday, Nov. 26, Tokyo Racecourse will see horses representing four nations vie for one of the biggest purses in the world of horseracing. Recent years have seen the prize money rise staggeringly and the total purse of the Japan Cup invitational now stands at 648 million yen (over $5.6 million), with 300 million yen going to the winner of the 37th running of the 2,400-meter turf event.

The Japan Cup was originally started largely in an effort to help raise the level of Japanese racing and it, together with many other efforts by Japan’s horsemen, now sees Japan compete highly competitively on an international level. In fact, the past 11 Japan Cup winners have come from the home team and, in the past 10 runnings, Japanese runners have managed to sweep the top three spots. This year, only four horses – Guignol and Japan Cup repeater Iquitos from Germany, Idaho from Ireland, and Caulfield Cup winner Boom Time from Australia – are here to try to loosen the iron grip Japanese horses have maintained on the Japan Cup. Scheduled riders for the overseas raiders are Filip Minarik, Daniele Porcu, Ryan Moore, and Cory Parish.

Not only is the competition formidable as seen from abroad, many at home are reluctant to take on what is often one of the toughest lineups of the year. Only 19 horses, including the four invitees from abroad, were nominated for the race and, now with the withdrawal of Tante Alegria last week, all will gain a berth. Those 18 will include three Japanese Derby winners and two double Grade 1 winners in addition to the field’s standout – Kitasan Black, winner of last year’s Japan Cup. The pride of singer Saburo Kitajima is aiming for his seventh Grade 1 victory and currently tops the lot for earnings with 712 million yen to his name.

The Tokyo 2,400 meters is also the venue for two of the 3-year-old classics – the Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby) and Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks). The race starts before the grandstand at the top of the slope and continues 350 meters to the first turn. The course is known for its lengthy 525-meter stretch, a final push home that has, for many a jockey, seemingly “lasted forever.”

Though early times are often slow, a good deal of early speed in the race often picks up the pace considerably. Wire-to-wire wins like Kitasan Black’s last year are rare. The draw is considered fair across the field.

The Japan Cup is the 11th and final race on the Sunday card at Tokyo Racecourse. Post time is 15:40 local time. Here’s a look at some of the expected top choices.

Kitasan Black: Despite his performance in the Takarazuka Kinen, this 5-year-old son of Black Tide returned to the track after the summer and did not disappoint in the Tenno Sho (Autumn). Now, with only two more starts scheduled before he is to be retired, his fans are more behind him than ever. Last year he went wire to wire to beat the field by 2 1/2 lengths over Sounds of Earth. In the Tenno Sho (Autumn), he hit the gate and came out askew, but quickly gained his feet, traveled a ground-saving inside track over the sloppy going, was in the lead by the straight and held off an advancing Satono Crown to win by a neck. The challenge by the 3-year-olds will be strong this year but this six-time Grade 1 winner shows no signs of being ready to relinquish his sovereignty.

Rey de Oro: Of the two 3-year-olds that pose a threat to the more established runners this year, Rey de Oro, a son of King Kamehameha, is considered the greater threat of the two classy youngsters being fielded by trainer Kazuo Fujisawa. Rey de Oro is currently five for six and this year’s Japanese Derby winner. In the Derby, he beat Suave Richard to the line and the latter just bested a field of older horses in the Copa Republica Argentina, a Grade 2 over 2,500 meters at Tokyo. The only black mark on Rey de Oro’s career was the Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas), in which he broke late and finished fifth. Last out, he topped Kiseki in the Kobe Shimbun Hai and Kiseki went on to win the Kikuka Sho (Japanese St. Leger). That was two months ago and he’s had enough time to recover. Rey de Oro is a versatile colt with good racing sense. And, being Miho-based, compared to Ritto, it’s only a hop to the racetrack. He’ll be saddled with 55kg and Christophe Lemaire, who currently leads Japan’s jockeys with 173 wins, is in the saddle.

Satono Crown: The Noriyuki Hori-trained Satono Crown went from the Tenno Sho (Autumn) last year to Hong Kong, where he captured the Hong Kong Vase. The same age as Kitasan Black, the Marju-sired Satono Crown was far ahead in the Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby), finishing third to Kitasan Black’s 14th. This year Satono Crown won the Takarazuka Kinen and beat Kitasan Black in doing so. The tables were turned once again in the Tenno Sho (Autumn), but just barely. With an extra furlong this time out, Satono Crown may pose the biggest threat to Kitasan Black. Mirco Demuro, currently the No. 3 rider in Japan with 156 wins, is expected to have the ride. Demuro has won the last two JRA Grade 1s – the Mile Championship and Queen Elizabeth II Cup – and has not missed the top three placings in a JRA Grade 1 since the Victoria Mile in mid-May.

Cheval Grand: In last year’s Japan Cup, both Kitasan Black and runnerup Sounds of Earth had gone directly from the Kyoto Daishoten. This year, four horses are going directly to the Japan Cup from the Kyoto 2,400-meter Grade 2. Cheval Grand is one of them. Third place in his last start, Cheval Grand missed second place in the Japan Cup last year by a mere neck and had the Copa Republica Argentina as his previous start. This year, with a bit more time between races, he may be able to get closer to the top.

Makahiki: The 4-year-old Deep Impact-sired Makahiki won the Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby) last year and went on to win the Grade 2 Prix Niel in France before disappointing in the Arc. His four starts this year, two at the top level, two at the Grade 2 level, have reaped him a third, fourth, sixth and fifth. His two starts at Tokyo – the Mainichi Okan and the Tenno Sho (Autumn) – were at 1,800 and 2,000 meters and brought him a sixth and fifth, respectively. This will be his first Japan Cup bid and a return to the Tokyo 2,400 meters will likely prove a plus.
Rainbow Line: Sixth in last year’s Japan Cup after running second in the Kikuka Sho, Rainbow Line surprised as 13th pick when he finished third in the Tenno Sho (Autumn), his best result in his four starts since the 2016 Japan Cup. He was coming off a 4-month layoff and is expected to show improvement. If it comes down to late speed, this son of Stay Gold is a good bet to round out a wager.

Three-Year-Old Persian Knight Reigns as Champion M20 Nov 12:41 pm

Fourth pick Persian Knight claimed this year’s Mile Championship to land his first G1 and second graded victory. Scoring two wins out of three starts in his debut season as a two-year-old, he kicked off this season with a third in his first grade-race challenge in the Shinzan Kinen (G3) then registered his first graded win in the following G3 Arlington Cup. The son of Harbinger was second and seventh in the first two legs of the Triple Crown, the Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas, G1) and the Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby, G1), respectively, then switched to mile races from autumn where he was fifth in his latest start in the G3 Fuji Stakes. This win marked trainer Yasutoshi Ikee’s 19th JRA-G1 win following the Yasuda Kinen with Satono Aladdin. Jockey Mirco Demuro claimed his 24th JRA-G1 title following the Queen Elizabeth II Cup with Mozu Katchan just last week while marking a tie record of six G1 annual wins with Yutaka Take (2005, 2006), Katsumi Ando (2007), Kenichi Ikezoe (2011) and Yasunari Iwata (2012).

Fourth pick Persian Knight broke sharply from the outermost stall and settled third from the rear while Maltese Apogee immediately rushed to the front to set the pace. As the field crowded in entering the lane, the dark bay colt threaded between horses and found space behind Air Spinel who had pulled away from the pack, chased the chestnut with a powerful late charge while dueling with Sungrazer and nailed the leader just before the wire for a photo-finish win.

“We were a little worried about the farthest draw but he always breaks well so we weren’t that concerned. The colt was responding really well especially around the third corner. Being still a three-year-old, he seemed a bit nervous entering the lane but ran really well to the wire. He’s a great horse,” commented Mirco Demuro.

Second pick Air Spinel was rated around eighth from the front in midfield, surged out entering the lane to take command 200 meters out and further accelerated but was unable to fend off the strong challenge by Persian Knight before the wire to succumb to second.

Seventh choice Sungrazer traveled around tenth from the front in mid-division, inside odds-on-favorite Isla Bonita. Meeting traffic entering the lane, the son of Deep Impact angled out and dueled strongly with Persian Knight in the last 100 meters but weakened in the last strides to finish half a length behind the runner-up in third.

Race favorite Isla Bonita traveled around eighth from the front, was checked at the top of the stretch but diligently chased the leaders behind Sungrazer to finish fifth.

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Iquitos, Guignol arrive to Japan for Japan Cup (G115 Nov 3:46 pm

Two German contenders in this year’s Grade 1 Japan Cup – Iquitos and Guignol – arrived in Japan safely on Tuesday night. Upon arriving at Narita Airport, the duo were transported to the Quarantine Stable at the JRA Horseracing School in Shiroi, Chiba Prefecture, completing a 20-hour trip for Iquitos and a 22-hour trip for Guignol from their home stables.

Caulfield Cup winner Boom Time arrived early Tuesday and Ireland-trained Idaho is scheduled to arrive on Thursday afternoon.

“The horse looks a bit tired from the trip, but I’m not too worried about it,” said Janina Reese, assistant trainer for Iquitos. “As for preparation, the trainer has left it up to us who know the most about Iquitos. We’ll monitor the horse’s condition and decide on his training menu.”

“He seems to be in good condition,” said Michael Cadeddu, assistant trainer for Guignol. “I have not received any instructions from the trainer. We’ll keep an eye on the horse’s condition and decide what to do from there.”
The 37th running of the Japan Cup will be held on Nov. 26 at Tokyo Racecourse over 2,400 meters.

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Boom Time arrives to Japan ahead of Japan Cup (G1)15 Nov 11:18 am

Grade 1 Japan Cup contender and this year’s Caulfield Cup winner Boom Time arrived in Japan safely on Tuesday morning. The 6-year-old horse trained by David Hayes was then transported to the Quarantine Stable at the JRA Horseracing School in Shiroi, Chiba Prefecture, completing a 14-hour trip from his home stable in Australia.

Boom Time is the first of four Japan Cup foreign contenders to arrive in Japan, with the two German-trained challengers – Guignol and Iquitos – scheduled to arrive later on Tuesday and the Ireland-trained Idaho to land on Thursday afternoon.

“He travelled well and seems to be in the same condition as he was back home,” assistant trainer Gary Fennessy said. “The trainer has instructed me to give him the same training menu as back home on the dirt course. We plan to do some fast work here at the Horseracing School on Friday or Saturday.”
The 37th running of the Japan Cup will be held on Nov. 26 at Tokyo Racecourse over 2,400 meters.

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Mile Championship (G1) - Preview14 Nov 7:10 pm

Once again, the main event of the week will be staged at Kyoto Racecourse, just a week before the international gala Japan Cup. This Sunday the spotlight is on speed with the miler heavyweights out in force for the Grade 1 Mile Championship. Open to 3-year-olds and up, the second big mile event of the year after the Yasuda Kinen carries a first prize of 103 million yen. Twenty-two horses have been nominated and 18 will make the cut for the 34th running of the Mile Championship.

The race is held over the Kyoto outer course, also the scene for such graded stakes events as the Kyoto Kimpai and the Shinzan Kinen. The race starts in the backstretch in the pocket behind the second turn. There are over 700 meters of straight track until the first bend, leaving ample room for maneuvering but the pace is usually heated from the start. The track climbs until the first bend, then dips going into the stretch of some 400 meters.

Danon Shark holds the race record time of 1 minute, 31.5 seconds, set in 2014.
The Mile Championship is the 11th race on Sunday at Kyoto. Post time is 15:40 local time. Here’s a look at some of the runners.

Air Spinel: A 4-year-old son of King Kamehameha, Air Spinel is gunning for his first Grade 1 win, and although the Mile Championship represents only his second top-level bid at the distance competing against older horses, recent form suggests he may be ready to make the winner’s circle at long last. Air Spinel made the board but missed the money in the first two 3-year-old Classics, with fourth-place finishes in both the Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas) and the Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby), then, in the longest of the three races, he ran third in the Kikuka Sho (Japanese St. Leger). However, after being dropped back in distance to the mile for most of his starts this year, he has made the top three spots in four of five starts at the distance. He also ran fifth in the hotly contested finish of the Yasuda Kinen, when the top five each crossed the line a neck behind the horse ahead. In that race, Air Spinel had found himself behind a wall until the very last furlong. With more room to move, things could have easily gone in his favor. Last out, Air Spinel won his second Grade 3 of the year when he nabbed the Fuji Stakes at Tokyo on Oct. 21. His other win was the Kyoto Kimpai, run over the same conditions as the Mile Championship. He has won the Daily Hai Nisai Stakes, also a mile at Kyoto. Expected to be in the saddle is Yutaka Take, who has ridden all but one of Air Spinel’s starts. It should also be noted that Take helped guide two others who had long struggled to capture a Grade 1 race to eventual victory in the Mile Championship – Sadamu Patek in 2012 and Tosen Ra in 2013. It’s a relatively tight rotation from the Fuji Stakes, but improvement is expected.

Isla Bonita: Three years ago, Isla Bonita aced the Satsuki Sho, lost the Derby by 3/4 length to One and Only, and later that year passed on the Kikuka Sho to take on the Tenno Sho (Autumn), where he ran third. He won the race before that, the Grade 2 Asahi Hai St. Lite Kinen and that was the last race he’d won until this April. Though the winner’s circle had eluded him, the 6-year-old son of Fuji Kiseki hadn’t been far off. He had made the money in Grade 1 competition both last year and the year before that, including a second to Mikki Isle in the Mile Championship last year and a third the year before. Most recently, he ran second to Air Spinel in the Fuji Stakes, but was coming off a near 5-month layoff compared to the latter’s spell of 2 months. His eighth-place finish in the Yasuda Kinen, 0.5 seconds off the winner, followed a win of the Grade 2 Milers Cup. In the Yasuda Kinen, Isla Bonita was unable to get a clear run and, kept waiting on the inside, the big-striding horse was unable to gain momentum once clear. If Isla Bonita can manage a win on Sunday, it would be his first win of a Grade 1 in nearly three years and seven months. He’ll be partnered with Christophe Lemaire, who has partnered Isla Bonita for one win and four seconds over his last seven starts. Considering that he was back from a layoff in the Fuji Stakes, running on a sloppy track under 58kg, 1kg less than Air Spinel and 1kg less than he’ll carry on Sunday, Isla Bonita may well be able to turn the tables at Kyoto.

Red Falx: With back-to-back victories in the Sprinters Stakes and only having had one race recently at anything longer than 1,400 meters since his career second start four years ago, Red Falx does not seem a likely pick for the Mile Championship. That one recent race at a longer distance, however, was this year’s Yasuda Kinen, and the 6-year-old by Swept Overboard finished third just 0.1 seconds behind winner Satono Aladdin. It’s an unusual choice to follow up a Sprinters Stakes win with the Mile Championship and the last horse that did so successfully was Durandal in 2003. If Red Falx can win the Mile Championship, he’ll be the first horse without a previous mile win to do since Tosen Ra four years ago and only the fifth horse in the race’s 34 runnings. The rotation is doable and his movement in work seems to been good. It will, however, be the first time for the Miho-based Red Falx to race at Kyoto.

Satono Aladdin: Fifth in last year’s Mile Championship, fourth the year before that, the 6-year-old Deep Impact-sired Satono Aladdin is set to take on the Kyoto top-level mile for his third time. Fourth in last year’s Yasuda Kinen, he captured the spring Grade 1 mile event this year for his first top-level win and would secure top miler of the year if he could manage a win on Sunday. Doubts are expected to push his popularity down, however, as the big-striding horse likes more room to move than Kyoto tends to offer compared to Tokyo. Other than his two Mile Championship bids, Satono Aladdin has had only one other start at Kyoto, the Grade 2 Swan Stakes over 1,400 meters, which he won. Following the Yasuda Kinen, Satono Aladdin returned in the fall to run second despite an unfavorable trip in the Grade 2 Mainichi Okan at Tokyo, but then finished last of 18 over a sloppy track in the Tenno Sho (Autumn), a result that will also lose him votes at the betting windows. It’s one that should be disregarded unless the track is heavy at Kyoto. Satono Aladdin will also be running under a kilogram less than any of his three starts this year. And, if he can get a position that allows him running room, three may be the charm for this Mile Championship veteran, as it was for Company in 2009 and Danon Shark in 2014.

* * *
Among other candidates…

Leading the pack of 3-year-olds aiming to become the first of that age group to capture the Mile Championship in 17 years is Sungrazer, by Deep Impact. In his 15 starts thus far, he has failed to make the money only twice and the board only once. His five wins have come predominately at 1,400 meters, but he has won at half a furlong more as well as 1,800 meters. His last outing, the Grade 2 Swan Stakes, was his best thus far and his first graded stakes win. In that race, he beat Sprinters Stakes runnerup Let’s Go Donki over the line by nearly two lengths. It’ll be a step up in class but he has a forgiving 56kg and Yuichi Fukunaga in the saddle for support. Filly Reine Minoruby Daiwa Major will have 2kg less than that and it will be her first return to the distance since her winning run in the Oka Sho. Also not to forget is Persian Knight, by Harbinger, who will be piloted by Mirco Demuro. The colt is three for eight with two seconds and a third. Last out, he came back from five months off to run fifth in the Fuji Stakes. He will return sharper to Kyoto, where he finished third in the Grade 3 Shinzan Kinen over 1,600 meters early this year.
Others to watch are the Miho-based Maltese Apogee, a 5-year-old by Goshawk Ken that has never failed to take the lead in all of his 23 career starts and he has held his ground for eight wins, one second and three thirds, including three wins at the Grade 3 level and two wins and a third at the mile. It will, however, be his first time at Kyoto. Kluger, a hefty 5-year-old by King Kamehameha, returned after six months off to run third in the Fuji Stakes and last spring he captured the Grade 2 Milers Cup at Kyoto. And, a word of caution not to ignore 5-year-old Grand Silk, who has made the top three spots consistently over the mile at the Grade 2 and 3 levels. It will be the son of Stay Gold’s first time at Kyoto.

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Last week Results

  • Highest Payout
  • Return Rate
Rank Tipster Race Payoff
1 South South
19 Nov Fukushima2R
28,500 1,140,000
2 Ikkun Ikkun
18 Nov Fukushima10R
81,710 408,550
3 Kiiro Kiiro
18 Nov Fukushima7R
670 333,700
4 Sugouma Katsuko Sugouma Katsuko
19 Nov Fukushima2R
28,500 301,760
5 South South
19 Nov Fukushima11R
21,810 174,480

>>See more

Rank Tipster No.of
1 South South
72R 244% 19% 989,790 119,685
2 Baken Seikatsu Baken Seikatsu
28R 137% 10% 53,260 65,520
3 Okabe Okabe
16R 131% 37% 39,000 27,166
4 E.Yamazaki E.Yamazaki
11R 128% 63% 30,900 20,128
5 Kiiro Kiiro
72R 126% 27% 186,400 44,970
6 Mutsuki Mutsuki
72R 122% 23% 160,140 51,184
37R 119% 27% 64,060 38,836
8 K.Nishino K.Nishino
40R 119% 27% 33,700 18,972
9 Ikkun Ikkun
72R 115% 6% 112,430 163,686
10 Umashigura Umashigura
15R 113% 40% 7,600 10,350
11 N.Okamura N.Okamura
72R 110% 58% 47,880 11,711
12 Mandegan Mandegan
63R 109% 30% 58,800 35,263
13 Ace No.1 Ace No.1
59R 106% 35% 36,030 29,044
14 MacaroniStandards MacaroniStandards
48R 105% 35% 12,900 14,994
15 Shimoon Shimoon
72R 103% 11% 8,400 30,425
16 Sugouma Katsuko Sugouma Katsuko
63R 102% 30% 17,940 33,849
17 km km
12R 102% 8% 3,000 123,000

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 Tournament Info:Tournament 135 is currently being held!(3 Nov - 26 Nov)

Tournament 135 Latest result

Rank Tipster Level
Deviation Return
Kurigeyahonpo Kurigeyahonpo
86.4 1376%
f3d06091a5 f3d06091a5
83.0 549%
Daishin Pluck Daishin Pluck
81.7 726%
c4a21ab429 c4a21ab429
79.3 668%
acchihno acchihno
78.6 236%

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