Exclusive Topics for JAPAN CUP 2011 and JAPAN CUP DIRT 2011 - 2nd Edition -
Japan Cup: Orfevre Claims Japan's Triple Crown and Tosen Jorden Smashes Tennosho (Autumn) Record
With the Autumn G1 season nearing its climax, a new star was born on October 23 when Orfevre (JPN, C3, by Stay Gold) became the first Triple Crown winner in six years, since
Deep Impact (JPN), and seventh overall by claiming the Kikuka Sho (Japanese St. Leger, G1, turf, 3,000m) title in 3:02.8, just 0.1 second short of the race record and a comfortable 2-1/2
lengths ahead of Win Variation (JPN, C3, by Heart's Cry). An appearance in the Japan Cup, however, became highly unlikely after his connections expressed their wishes to "allow ample time for recovery after a hectic race." The Arima Kinen (G1, turf, 2,500m) seems a more realistic choice, and a possible overseas challenge in next year's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (G1, turf, 2,400m) was also mentioned. Meanwhile, Kikuka Sho runner-up Win Variation is heading towards the Japan Cup, although competition against this year's field of older G1 winners could be a big challenge for the three-year-old colt.
Tosen Jordan (JPN, H5, by Jungle Pocket) won the Tenno Sho (Autumn) (G1, turf, 2,000m), which was held a week after the third leg of the Triple Crown. The race was contested by many key runners aiming for the Japan Cup, but Tosen Jordan upset the high-quality field stocked with seven proven G1 winners. The race developed from an extremely high pace that covered the first 1,000 meters in 56.5 seconds, creating an advantage for runners coming from behind. Ridden by Italy's new star, Nicola Pinna, 23, Tosen Jordan swung to the outside from behind and launched a dynamic charge to sweep past his rivals for his first G1 title in three attempts. His time of 1:56.1 renewed the record by 1.1 seconds. Trained by Yasutoshi Ikee, who had just claimed the Triple Crown with Orfevre a week before, Tosen Jordan showed signs of development by claiming three G2 wins beginning November last year, but was overshadowed by his proven rivals going into the race.
Dark Shadow (JPN, C4, by Dance in the Dark), making his first G1 attempt and tenth career start in the Tenno Sho (Autumn), just missed by a 1/2-length after meeting traffic midway, although he demonstrated a good turn of speed through the inside stretch. The four-year-old has improved significantly this season and is well suited to this year's Japan Cup venue, Tokyo Racecourse, where he has a strike rate of five wins and a second out of six starts. Nevertheless, despite being a strong candidate who likely would have attracted much attention in the international G1 event, his connections have already turned him out to rest until next season.
Despite coming into the Tenno Sho (Autumn) 14 kilos heavier after a six-month spell, Pelusa (JPN, C4, by Zenno Rob Roy) also stretched well from behind to finish another 1/2-length back in third. The talented colt, who had repeatedly missed his break and was unable to make use of his true ability during his three-year-old season, showed great improvement in his performance this year. While he has not accumulated enough in earnings since April to make the priority list of selectees for the Japan Cup, he would certainly qualify as a strong candidate. Horse of the Year Buena Vista (JPN, M5, by Special Week) was the defending champion in the Tenno Sho (Autumn) but met traffic at the straight and finished fourth. Since finishing first but demoted to second in the Japan Cup last year, the Special Week mare has been winless in her last six starts, probably due to a combination of age and some bad luck. Nevertheless the mare will no doubt make the best of her exceptional burst of speed in an attempt to claim her Japan Cup title.
To the Glory
The Tenno Sho's fifth place finisher, To the Glory (JPN, C4, by King Kamehameha), one of Japan's up-and-coming three-year-olds, was especially impressive from the late 2010 season to April this year, scoring three grade-race titles and a third against older G1 winners in the Arima Kinen. However, racing without rest took its toll on the young colt in the Tenno Sho (Spring) (G1, turf, 3,200m) and the Takarazuka Kinen (G1, turf, 2,200m), where he was unable to give his usual turn of foot from mid-division and disappointed to 13th in both races. His performance in the Tenno Sho (Autumn), following a four-month break after the Takarazuka Kinen, seemed more like his usual self and hinted of better things to come in his next start, the Japan Cup.
Eishin Flash (JPN, C4, by King's Best) who finished sixth in the Tenno Sho (Autumn), also was coming off a break since the Takarazuka Kinen. The frontrunner had no chance at the crucial stage, having used up his energy by maintaining the sprinters' pace in third position. Although winless during the first half of this season, his performances have been consistent and he looks ready to land another title. Last year's Japan Cup winner Rose Kingdom (JPN, C4, by King Kamehameha)—who won after Buena Vista was demoted to second for interference—was also forwardly positioned in the Tenno Sho but had nothing to show at the stretch, finishing tenth. His best style of racing demands a slow early pace from which he can make use of his explosive charge at the straight, so how the race develops in the coming Japan Cup will be the key for the defending champion.
The future agenda of runners returning from the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe is under close watch. Victoire Pisa (JPN, C4, by Neo Universe), who landed this year's Dubai World Cup (G1, AW, 2,000m), flew to France in August to prepare for the French G1 but was forced to pass up his entry with a leg problem. He is currently back to training for the Japan Cup, in which he finished third last year. The Neo Universe colt, who concluded the 2010 season with a win in the Arima Kinen, proceeded to win his first start of 2011 in the Nakayama Kinen (G2, turf, 1,800m) before marking his international success in Dubai. The trip to his next start in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup (G1, turf, 2,000m) in Hong Kong, however, was cancelled by a leg problem. The key will be whether he can revive his best form or not after a long absence. Hiruno d'Amour (JPN, C4, by Manhattan Cafe) came off a commendable runner-up effort in the Prix Foy (G2, turf, 2,400m), but in his Arc challenge he disappointed to tenth. The colt just returned to his stable in Japan on November 3 and his connections are hinting that his next start possibly could be Arima Kinen, so participation in the Japan Cup depends on his training progress.
Oken Bruce Lee
Other possible Japan Cup starters include Jaguar Mail (JPN, H7, by Jungle Pocket), fourth last year and winner of the 2010 Tenno Sho (Spring), but ninth in the Tenno Sho (Autumn) last month. Oken Bruce Lee (JPN, H6, by Jungle Pocket), second in the Copa Republica Argentina (G2, turf, 2,500m), was the 2008 Kikuka Sho winner and runner-up by a nose to Vodka (JPN) in the 2009 Japan Cup. He has been under form during the past season and will need to regain his top condition to stay with the competition this year.
Japan Cup Dirt: Transcend Races into Dirt History with Second Place in Dubai
Japan's dirt racing division marked a major step internationally this year when Transcend (JPN, H5, by Wild Rush) finished second in the Dubai World Cup in March. Although the winner of the race, Victoire Pisa, is a turf runner who is scheduled for this year's Japan Cup, Transcend is a dirt specialist in Japan and a G1 winner in two recent major dirt events: last year's Japan Cup Dirt (G1, dirt, 1,800m) and the 2011 February Stakes (G1, dirt, 1,600m). Other dirt runners had appeared in the race (including those run at Nad Al Sheba Racecourse) in the past, but the results had been disappointing. Transcend's accomplishment sets a new standard for Japan's dirt horses wishing to achieve international success.
Transcend, after given a breather upon return from Dubai, resumed his racing back in Japan in the Mile Championship Nambu Hai (dirt, 1,600m) on October 10. The race, normally held by the National Association of Racing (NAR) at Morioka, Iwate Prefecture, had to be shifted to JRA's Tokyo Racecourse due to the Great East Japan Earthquake. With 2009 Japan Cup Dirt winner Espoir City (JPN, H6, by Gold Allure) leading the field, Transcend pressed the fast pace in second and finally won by a head after a fierce rally to mark another G1 title.
His next start was at Ohi (NAR) in the JBC Classic (dirt, 2,000m) on November 3, this time facing Smart Falcon (JPN, H6, by Gold Allure), who was in midst of a six-win streak in graded NAR stakes. Transcend once again found himself pressing the pace, this time behind Smart Falcon, and together they turned it into a two-horse race over the 2,000-meter distance. Smart Falcon eventually prevailed by a length and evened the score with Transcend, who had beaten the son of Gold Allure 13 months prior.
Danon Come On
Smart Falcon has concentrated on racing in NAR's grade-race events, having run in 22 starts since the fall of his three-year-old campaign, so this year's Japan Cup Dirt would be his first JRA start in three years and four months. Other notable dirt runners include Danon Come On (JPN, H5, by Symboli Kris S), runner-up in the Mile Championship Nambu Hai and fourth place finisher in JRA's dirt G1, the February Stakes. The son of Symboli Kris S has proved
consistent with four wins and five seconds out of ten starts since last fall, but all at distances of between 1,400 and 1,600 meters. Espoir City, who finished fourth in the Nambu Hai, had fallen out of shape after his Breeders' Cup challenge last year but appears to have regained his form with a dominant victory in the Miyako Stakes (G3, dirt, 1,800m) on November 6. The participation of Furioso (JPN, H7, by Brian's Time), runner-up in the February Stakes, is unlikely.
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