Horse Racing in Japan

2008 News

March 30, 2008

Dubai World Cup day - no joy for the Japanese contenders

The world's richest and most international race meeting, the Dubai World Cup meeting, was held at Nad Al Sheba racecourse on March 29, and Japan was represented by 4 runners in 3 races.

Iide Kenshin was the first Japanese representative to line up in the Group 2 US$2,000,000 UAE Derby. As he had done in both his dirt races back in Japan, he went straight to the front once again, but was already struggling at the turn. He ended up finishing 8th - beaten approximately 17 lengths. The winner of the race was the Argentinean bred Honour Devil who won by just over 4 lengths coming from off the pace with a very strong burst in the straight. South African bred Royal Vintage was 2nd, with another 3 3/4 lengths back to Cocoa Beach. Honour Devil had been beaten by Royal Vintage in the lead up race to this one, but was much too good in the main event last night.

In the Group 1 US$5,000,000 Dubai Duty Free, Japan's Vodka and Admire Aura lined up in the field of 16. Vodka was placed a lot closer than she usually is in her races by jockey Yutaka Take sitting 4th or 5th most of the trip. Jockey Katsumi Ando had been planning on taking Admire Aura forward in the race as well, but after starting well he suffered some interference and was shuffled back through the field soon after the start. As the field entered the straight, Take brought Vodka to the outside and for a moment she looked set to pounce, but she didn't show the finishing burst she is so well known for in Japan, but did fight on bravely to finish 4th. Admire Aura had no luck at all throughout the run (he was mentioned several times in the stewards' report) and did a great job to finish on the heels of Vodka - his 9th placing sounding a lot worse than the margin he was beaten by.

The winner of the race was South African 4yo Jay Peg who led the field and after looking gone in the straight, fought back to beat French contender Darjina by a 1/2 length, with Archipenko a further nose back in 3rd place. There was a 1 1/4 length break back to Vodka.

In the main event of the evening, the 2007 United States Horse of the Year Curlin showed he was a class above his rivals, with a 7 3/4 length demolition of the Group 1 US$6,000,000 Dubai World Cup field. He sat outside the leaders throughout the race before shooting away in the straight for the easiest of victories. Asiatic Boy (who easily won the UAE Derby last year) fought on well for 2nd, just 1/4 length ahead of another American Well Armed.

Japan's Vermilion had been undefeated in Japan since his 4th placing in this race last year, but he never looked likely during the run and gradually lost ground - finally finishing approximately 40 lengths from the leader in last place. A veterinarian examination of the horse after the race showed no abnormalities which was good news, but obviously connections would have been very disappointed with the result which was a vastly different one to the one that they were hoping for - that he could have improved on his effort from last year.

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