November 18, 2016
Exclusive Topics for JAPAN AUTUMN INTERNATIONAL 2016 - 3rd Edition -
The Tenno Sho (Autumn) (G1, 2,000m), a key step-race towards the Japan Cup that traditionally provides a number of Japan Cup starters, has taken a twist this year as a result of several top finishers heading off in different directions. Champion miler Maurice (JPN, H5, by Screen Hero), who came into the race with four 1,600m G1 victories and then won dominantly as the race favorite, will drop down to a mile in the Hong Kong Mile (G1, 1,600m) or run 2,000 meters in the Hong Kong Cup (G1, 2,000m). Either way, he will refrain from preparing for the added distance of the Japan Cup.
in the 2016 Dubai Turf
Several other Tenno Sho top finishers who are either milers or middle-distance specialists, including runner-up Real Steel (JPN, C4, by Deep Impact), may challenge the Japan Cup depending on the field’s makeup. Admire Deus (JPN, H5, by Admire Don), although well suited to the Japan Cup, will pass up the 2,400-meter G1 for the Arima Kinen (G1, 2,500m) after finishing sixth in the Tenno Sho (Autumn).
in the 2016 Tenno Sho (Spring)
While a number of quality runners from the Tenno Sho (Autumn) will pass up this year’s Japan Cup, several outstanding talents who did not run in the Tenno Sho (Autumn) appear to be concentrating on the Japan Cup as well as the Arima Kinen. The main focus is on Kitasan Black (JPN, C4, by Black Tide), who passed up the 2015 Japan Cup following his first G1 victory in the Kikuka Sho (Japanese St. Leger, G1, 3,000m), but then proved competitive against senior G1 company when he finished third in the year-end Arima Kinen.
The Black Tide colt, owned by renowned singer Saburo Kitajima (registered as Ono Shoji), kicked off his four-year-old campaign with a runner-up effort in the Sankai Osaka Hai (G2, 2,000m), a race that will be upgraded to G1 status in 2017. He then scored a second career G1 victory by exhibiting remarkable staying power to remain in front and outduel his rival in the Tenno Sho (Spring) (G1, 3,200m). In the Takarazuka Kinen (G1, 2,200m), he dictated a fast pace early but his energy fell a bit short and he was outrun near the wire to finish third. He has continued to show progress in his fall season, scoring another grade-race victory in the Kyoto Daishoten (G2, 2,400m). His only finish outside the money in 12 career starts was the Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby, G1, 2,400m), where he was well beaten to 14th. The Japan Cup will be his first start at Tokyo Racecourse in almost one and a half years.
in the 2015 Arima Kinen
Gold Actor (JPN, H5, by Screen Hero), the 2015 Arima Kinen victor, is also aimed at the Japan Cup after passing up the Tenno Sho (Autumn) to save his energy for the 2,400-meter Grade 1. A late-developer who chalked up back-to-back wins in August of 2014, Gold Actor was just in time for the last three-year-old Classic, the Kikuka Sho, where he finished third in the 3,000m race at Kyoto, which was won in a record time of 3:01.0. Following a long break after the Kikuka Sho, he returned to racing in July 2015 and proceeded to win five in a row. The streak included his first grade-race victory in the Copa Republica Argentina (G2, 2,500m) in November and then his first G1 title, as an eighth-choice outsider, in the Arima Kinen.
He scored his fifth consecutive win early this year in the Nikkei Sho (G2, 2,500m) and was made race favorite in the following Tenno Sho (Spring), but he disappointed badly in 12th after using up his energy due to pre-race overexcitement, as well as having to start from an outside gate. In his fall debut, he returned to his winning ways in the Sankei Sho All Comers (G2, 2,200m), despite carrying a top weight of 58kg. His race record at Tokyo stands at two wins and a second out of five starts.
Sounds of Earth (right)
in the 2015 Arima Kinen
A possible hopeful is Sounds of Earth (JPN, H5, by Neo Universe), who is coming off his fall debut in the Kyoto Daishoten, where he finished fourth to Kitasan Black. Fifth last year in the Japan Cup, he capped off his 2015 season with an impressive neck-second behind Gold Actor in the Arima Kinen and was second to the same horse in his 2016 debut, the Nikkei Sho. However, he was heavily defeated to 15th in the Tenno Sho (Spring) and has yet to claim a grade-race title, despite finishing second six times, and has just two wins out of 18 starts overall.
Last Impact (right)
in the 2015 Japan Cup
Last Impact (JPN, H6, by Deep Impact), seventh in the Kyoto Daishoten, turned in an impressive performance under top British jockey Ryan Moore in last year’s Japan Cup, where he responded with a terrific turn of speed inside to just miss by a neck to Shonan Pandora (JPN, M5, by Deep Impact), who was retired recently after suffering a fracture in her left foreleg. However, Last Impact has yet to win since his victory in the Kinko Sho (G2, 2,000m) in December 2014 and his four starts this year have been mostly dull; except for a third-place finish in the Dubai Sheema Classic (G1, 2,410m) in March, his other finishes have been below sixth place.
Cheval Grand in the
2016 Copa Republica Argentina
Coming off another step race, the Copa Republica Argentina held on November 6, is Cheval Grand (JPN, C4, by Heart’s Cry). The Heart’s Cry colt landed his first grade-race title this spring in the Hanshin Daishoten (G2, 3,000m) and then validated the win with an impressive third against G1 company in the Tenno Sho (Spring). He was ninth in the Takarazuka Kinen, but bounced back to form in his fall debut, the Copa Republica Argentina, making a tremendous charge down the center lane for his second grade-race title. The 2014 Tokyo Yushun winner, One and Only (JPN, H5, by Heart’s Cry) finished eighth in the same race.
Other notable runners registered to run in the Japan Cup include Dee Majesty (JPN, C3, by Deep Impact), champion of this year’s Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas, G1, 2,000m), Rainbow Line (JPN, C3, by Stay Gold), runner-up in the this year’s Kikuka Sho, Hit the Target (JPN, H8, by King Kamehameha), who will enter his fourth consecutive Japan Cup, Rouge Buck (JPN, F4, by Manhattan Cafe), three-time grade-race winner, and Biche (JPN, F3, by Deep Impact), third-place finisher in this year’s Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks, G1, 2,400m).
One and Only
in the 2014 Tokyo Yushun
in the 2016 Satsuki Sho
in the 2016 Arlington Cup
Hit the Target
in the 2015 Meguro Kinen
in the 2016 Mainichi Okan
in the 2016 Shion Stakes
Marialite (JPN, M5, by Deep Impact) and Mikki Queen (JPN, F4, by Deep Impact), both winners of two G1 titles and participants in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup (G1, 2,200m) on November 13, will not run in the Japan Cup due to tight spacing between the races.