The 61st Yasuda Kinen - Handicapper's Report on the Japanese Contenders
* Showa Modern cancelled to run in this race.
The 61st Yasuda Kinen (G1, 1,600m) will be joined by two runners from Hong Kong, Beauty Flash (NZ) and Thumbs Up (NZ). While defeated to 11th last year, Beauty Flash returns this time in improved form for his second attempt, having won the Hong Kong Mile (G1, 1,600m) in December last year and added another two HK-G1 titles this season.
The Japanese field this year include top milers such as last year's champion Showa Modern (JPN) and Mile Championship (G1, 1,600m) winner A Shin Forward (USA) and Apapane (JPN), who has just come off a win in the Victoria Mile (G1, 1,600m). Together with the foreign contestants, this year's race is expected to be a highly competitive event.
The following are some of the key Japanese runners:
Apapane's (JPN, F4, by King Kamehameha) registered her fifth G1 title in her last victory over JRA's 2010 Horse of the Year Buena Vista (JPN) in the Victoria Mile in May. Among the six G1 races reserved for fillies and mares, the King Kamehameha filly is just one title short—the Queen Elizabeth II Commemorative Cup (G1, 2,200m) held in autumn—to accomplish a grand slam in the female G1 category. Concentrating on races limited to fillies since her third start up to the end of last year, during which she became the third filly to achieve the fillies' Triple Crown, Apapane faced male opponents of grade-race standards for the first time in her seasonal debut this year in the Yomiuri Milers Cup (G2, 1,600m). A comeback from a five-month spell, she was fourth to Silport (JPN) but finished strongly in her match against Buena Vista. Undefeated in all four starts at Tokyo Racecourse, her winning time (1:31.9) in the Victoria Mile should place her as an unarguable favorite for the coming race. She is rated 114M.
The Keio Hai Spring Cup (G2, 1,400m) winner Strong Return (JPN, H5, by Symboli Kris S) claimed his first grade-race title in the race which is considered as the major step-race towards the Yasuda Kinen. Sent to post fourth choice with no significant title coming into the race, the five-year-old bay exhibited a powerful kick from off the pace as the field turned for home with the front-runners still going strongly from the slow early pace—his 33.1 seconds over the last three furlongs was the fastest in the field of 17. Only raced three times (two wins) as a four-year-old and coming off a runner-up and two wins in his three starts so far, Strong Return is on the roll at this stage and is certain to produce another strong finish no matter how the race develops. He is rated 111M.
Silport (JPN, H6, by White Muzzle) has registered wire-to-wire victories in two of his grade-race starts over a mile this season although succumbing to second by a nose in his last start, the Keio Hai, carrying a kilo more than the winner. Rated 113M, the six-year-old bay has a good chance of claiming his first G1 title if he can set the pace at an average of 35 seconds (over three furlongs) in the first half.
Jo Cappuccino (JPN, H5, by Manhattan Cafe) possesses much speed that places him right to the top in sprint races, but in the Keio Hai he settled behind Silport and ultimately finished a nose and neck third. With a G1 win in the NHK Mile Cup at Tokyo Racecourse as a three-year-old, the attention will focus on whether he will set the pace or sit in second and how the race will develop accordingly. He is rated 112S-M.
Danon Yoyo (JPN, H5, by Dance in the Dark) is a mile specialist who scored four consecutive wins during the second half of his 2010 campaign including the Fuji Stakes (G3, 1,600m) before capping off his four-year-old season with a runner-up effort in the Mile Championship. While winless in his two starts this year, the chestnut son of Dance in the Dark is heading towards improving from his third place finish last start. Though his occasional slow break can be costly, his explosive turn of speed at the stretch is definitely worth noting. He is rated 114M.
A Shin Forward
Both Showa Modern (JPN, H7, by Air Jihad) and A Shin Forward (USA, H6, by Forest Wildcat) are proven G1 winners. However, Showa Modern has been under par since last fall and his chances of defending his title is slim. Meanwhile, A Shin Forward, carrying top weight at 59 kilos, gave a respectable performance while defeated to eighth in the Keio Hai Spring Cup, suggesting a possibility of picking up his form in his next start. Both horses are rated 115M.