2018 News

November 25, 2018


Triple-Crowned Filly Almond Eye Romps to Victory in Record Time in Japan Cup
Japan Cup (International Invitational) (G1)

Japan Cup (International Invitational) (G1)

Japan Cup (International Invitational) (G1)

Japan Cup (International Invitational) (G1)

This year’s triple crown winner and heavily favored Almond Eye became the second three-year-old filly after Gentildonna in 2012 to dominate the Japan cup. The remarkable starlet prevailed in front of the nearly 100,000     crowd under jockey Christophe Lemaire by a record-breaking 2:20.6, 1.5 seconds faster than the previous record set by Alkaased in 2005. After marking a second in her debut start, the Lord Kanaloa filly has been undefeated since, landing six consecutive victories including the fillies’ Triple Crown—Oka Sho (Japanese 1000 Guineas, G1), Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks, G1) and the Shuka Sho (G1). This is the first Japan Cup triumph and 15th JRA-G1 victory for trainer Sakae Kunieda while jockey Christophe Lemaire celebrates his second Japan Cup win—his first was with Vodka in 2009. Lemaire now owns 22 JRA-G1 trophies and renewed his own record of eight G1 titles won in the same year.

The highly targeted heavy favorite Almond Eye broke from the inner-most stall, hugged the rails a few lengths from the frontrunner in second, steadily climbed the stretch hill and swooped past Kiseki at the furlong pole, pulling away easily to a 1-3/4-length victory.

Breaking from stall eight, four-year-old Kiseki was rushed to the front before the initial turn, set the pace and extended his lead up to three lengths in the backstretch, kicked into gear in the homestretch but proved no match for the winner while driving home well holding off Suave Richard by 3-1/2 lengths for second.

Second favorite Suave Richard was quickly steered to the rails from a wide stall, was a bit keen in the backstretch traveling in fifth behind Almond Eye, chased the leaders in the straight and gradually ran out of steam but withstood the hard-charging Cheval Grand to secure third by a neck.

A bit fractious in the paddock, seventh favorite Thundering Blue broke from stall six, was unhurried as usual in the far rear of the field, entered the stretch last, made a tenacious effort but was unable to reach contention and passed his tiring rivals to finish 10th.

“I thought the ground was too quick and he was a bit too tense before the race in the paddock. He did show his brilliance in the final stages, but it was a good experience and he will now be given a good rest and we’ll see how he does next season,” commented trainer David Menuisier after the race.

“The horse lost his concentration because of the loud crowd. He stretched well in the end but the horses in front were just too fast,” said jockey Francis Berry.

Sent off sixth favorite, the Aidan O’Brien-trained Capri was off slow, cruised third from the rear, showed a moderate turn of foot in early stretch but failed to reach contention behind the rapid pace and was 11th.

“The ground was quick and the pace too fast. The winner finishing at 2:20.6 was too good,” commented jockey Ryan Moore.

Other Horses:
4th: (9) Cheval Grand—raced in 8th, showed effort, advanced to 4th at 200m pole, finished a neck behind 3rd
5th: (5) Mikki Swallow—sat 2nd from rear, angled out, showed belated charge, fastest over last 3 furlongs
6th: (3) Satono Diamond—settled in 9th, ran gamely until 200m marker, even paced thereafter
7th: (2) Happy Grin—saved ground in 7th, switched to outside at early stretch, lacked needed kick
8th: (14) Win Tenderness—sat in 6th, ran willingly along rails until 300m out, weakened
9th: (4) Satono Crown—hugged rails in 11th, circled wide, passed tired rivals
12th: (10) Ganko—ran outside winner, gradually fell back
13th: (13) Noble Mars—chased leader in 2nd, faded after final corner
14th: (7) Sounds of Earth—traveled wide in 10th, no factor

THE 38TH JAPAN CUP (G1) in association with Longines - Japan Autumn International -
3-year-old & up, 2,400 meters (about 12 furlongs), turf, left-handed
Sunday, November 25, 2018    Tokyo Racecourse      11th Race        Post Time: 15:40
Total prize money: ¥ 648,000,000 (about US$ 5,890,909 <US$1=¥110>)
3-y-o: 55 kg (about 121 lbs), 4-y-o & up: 57 kg (about 126 lbs)
2 kg allowance for Fillies & Mares, 2 kg allowance for Southern Hemisphere-bred born in 2015
Safety factor: 18 runners

FP BK PP Horse Sex
1 1 1 Almond Eye
F3 53.0 Lord Kanaloa
Fusaichi Pandora
C. Lemaire
S. Kunieda
Silk Racing Co., Ltd.
Northern Racing
2 5 8 Kiseki
C4 57.0 Rulership
Blitz Finale
Y. Kawada
K. Nakatake
Tatsue Ishikawa
Shimokobe Farm
3 7 11 Suave Richard
C4 57.0 Heart’s Cry
M. Demuro
Y. Shono
NICKS Co., Ltd.
Northern Racing
4 6 9 Cheval Grand
H6 57.0 Heart’s Cry
Halwa Sweet
C. Demuro
Y. Tomomichi
Kazuhiro Sasaki
Northern Racing
5 4 5 Mikki Swallow
C4 57.0 Tosen Homareboshi
Madre Bonita
N. Yokoyama
T. Kikuzawa
Mizuki Noda
Northern Farm
6 3 3 Satono Diamond
H5 57.0 Deep Impact
J. Moreira
Y. Ikee
Satomi Horse Company Co., Ltd.
Northern Racing
7 2 2 Happy Grin
C3 55.0 Lohengrin
Lady C’est la Vie
T. Hattori
J. Tanaka
Yuichi Aida
Shadai Farm
8 8 14 Win Tenderness
H5 57.0 Company
Moere Merci
H. Uchida
H. Sugiyama
Win Co., Ltd.
Asahi Bokujo
9 3 4 Satono Crown
H6 57.0 Marju
W. Buick
N. Hori
Satomi Horse Company Co., Ltd.
Northern Racing
10 4 6 Thundering Blue*
G5 57.0 Exchange Rate
Relampago Azul
F. Berry
D. Menuisier
Clive Andrew Washbourn
Dr. Tom Castoldi
11 7 12 Capri*
C4 57.0 Galileo
R. Moore
A. O'Brien
Derrick Smith, Mrs. John Magnier&Michael Tabor
Lynch Bages Ltd & Camas Park Stud
12 6 10 Ganko
H5 57.0 Nakayama Festa
Sing up Rock
M. Ebina
S. Matsumoto
Mitsuo Sugisawa
Takeshi Maetani
13 8 13 Noble Mars
H5 57.0 Jungle Pocket
I and You
R. Takakura
H. Miyamoto
Nobuhiko Yoshiki
Tagami Farm
14 5 7 Sounds of Earth
H7 57.0 Neo Universe
First Violin
H. Tanabe
K. Fujioka
Teruya Yoshida
Shadai Farm

FP=Final Position / BK=Bracket Number / PP=Post Position / B=Blinker / Wgt=Weight / L3F=Time of Last 3 Furlongs (600m)
DH=Dead Heat

Note1: *Foreign contenders
Note2: Figures quoted under Odds are Win Odds, which show the amount of money you get back per single unit (100yen), and Fav indicates the order of favorites.

WINNING TIME: 2:20.6 (course record) GOING: Firm WEATHER: Fine
TURNOVER FOR THE DAY: ¥ 28,881,918,800 ATTENDANCE: 98,988

PAY-OFF (for ¥100)
WIN No.1 ¥140 BRACKET QUINELLA 1-5 ¥600 QUINELLA 1-8 ¥590
PLACE No.1 ¥110 QUINELLA PLACE 1-8 ¥230 EXACTA 1-8 ¥700
No.8 ¥160 1-11 ¥240 TRIO 1-8-11 ¥960
No.11 ¥150 8-11 ¥470 TRIFECTA 1-8-11 ¥2,690

  1. 1. Almond Eye (JPN),, bay, filly, 3-year-old
    Lord Kanaloa / Fusaichi Pandora (Sunday Silence)
    Owner: Silk Racing Co., Ltd. Breeder: Northern Racing
    Trainer: Sakae Kunieda Jockey: Christophe Lemaire
    7 Starts, 6 Wins  
    Added money: ¥303,024,000 Career earnings: ¥720,223,000

  2. 2. Kiseki (JPN), dark bay or brown, colt, 4-year-old
    Rulership / Blitz Finale (Deep Impact)
    Owner: Tatsue Ishikawa Breeder: Shimokobe Farm
    Trainer: Kazuya Nakatake Jockey: Yuga Kawada

  3. 3. Suave Richard (JPN), chestnut, colt, 4-year-old
    Heart's Cry / Pirramimma (Unbridled's Song)
    Owner: NICKS Co., Ltd. Breeder: Northern Racing
    Trainer: Yasushi Shono Jockey: Mirco Demuro
Fractional Time (sec./furlong): 12.9 - 10.8 - 12.2 - 12.3 - 11.7 - 11.8 - 11.7 - 11.4 - 11.4 - 11.0 - 11.4 - 12.0
Last 4 furlongs: 45.8          Last 3 furlongs: 34.4

Positions at each corner: 1st corner 8-13(1,10)(11,14)-(2,9)(3,7)4,12,5,6
2nd corner 8-(1,13)10,11,14(2,9)(3,7)(4,12)5,6
4th corner 8-(1,13)(11,10)(14,9)(2,3,7)4-12-5-6
4th corner 8-(1,13)(11,10)(14,9)(3,7)2,4,12,5-6

Note1: Underlined bold number indicates the winning horse.
Note2: Horse numbers are indicated in the order of their positions at each corner, with the first position listed first. Two or more horses inside the same parentheses indicate that they were positioned side by side. Hyphens between the horse numbers indicate that there is distance between the former and the latter. The asterisk indicates a slight lead.

[Post Race Interview of Winning Connections]

Trainer: Sakae Kunieda
“I had every confidence in her potential and she was in great form coming into the race—she traveled smoothly to Tokyo yesterday and settled in nicely—and although she broke a little in air at the break, she was still able to secure a good position up front and into a nice flow. When I saw that the clock indicated 59.9 seconds at the 1,000- meter mark, I was already pretty sure that she could pull it off and win the race. The Japan Cup itself being recognized as an international event and having won this race gives her various options to choose from including an overseas challenge that will most certainly be expected of her, although details will have to be discussed with the owners.”

Jockey: Christophe Lemaire
“I am happy to have won the Japan Cup which is a big international race watched everywhere around the world, but personally I feel relieved to have won (with the race favorite) because I knew she had the potential to win but you never know what might happen in the 2,400 meters. Today I was a little bit anxious, but I think we saw the best Almond Eye in the race and it was a great show. I don’t really like the inside number one draw because it is very hard to make a plan and can depend on how you break—I didn’t want to put too much pressure on her out of the gate—it can also be pretty tricky because if you get locked inside a slow pace it can be a mess in the end and it is also difficult to stay back and move wide to the outside. (As a result) she broke well, and I saw that Kiseki was taking the lead which was good because Kiseki is a good horse and a leader with a good pace, so I had the best leader for Almond Eye and was happy with how the race went. By the first corner Almond Eye was already her usual self and well into the bridle and I really enjoyed being in the position of being on her back and by the backstretch, I nearly thought the race was over and ours. This is a very special filly as I keep telling the press in Japan that she is “Perfect” –her ability, temperament, she can adapt and race from any position, so if she has a chance to race overseas, I think she can race as well as she did today if not at least be competitive against the world’s best.”

* Japan Cup (G1)
The Japan Cup, in its 38th year, continues to attract some of the top turf horses from around the world—67 runners from North America, 144 from Europe, 26 from Oceania and five from Asia—while a number of runners have made this race their starting point towards further international success in following years.
Cheval Grand captured his first G1 victory in last year’s Japan Cup, beating Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby, G1, 2,400m) winner Rey de Oro (JPN, C4, by King Kameameha) and defending champion Kitasan Black (JPN, by Black Tide), who were second and third, respectively. This year, Cheval Grand returned with hopes of defending his title and claim his second G1 win while Rey de Oro headed for the Arima Kinen instead after registering a third in the Kyoto Kinen (G2, 2,200m) in February, a fourth in the Dubai Sheema Classic (G1, 2,410m) and back-to-back wins in the autumn All Comers (G2, 2,200m) and the Tenno Sho (Autumn) (G1, 2,000m; Oct.28). Kitasan Black concluded his racing career with his Arima Kinen (G1, 2,500m; Dec.23) triumph last season.
This year’s Japan Cup welcomed two foreign contenders from Europe. Capri, from Ireland claimed the Irish Derby (G1, 2,400m) and the St. Leger (G1, 2,900m) last year and came off a fourth in the Champions Stakes (G1, 1,990m; Oct.20). Thundering Blue from Great Britain and an uprising runner who claimed the York Stakes (G2, 2,050m) in July and the Stockholm Cup International (G3, 2,400m) in September, came off a runner-up effort in the Canadian International (G1, 2,400m; Oct.13).
Six out of 12 of the Japanese contenders taking on the foreign raiders were Grade 1 winners; Almond Eye, this year’s filly triple crown champion who became the fifth since Gentildonna (JPN, by Deep Impact) in 2012 to make the sweep is coming off her Shuka Sho (G1, 2,000m; Oct.14) victory.
Two-time G1 winner and 2016 Best Three-Year-Old Colt Satono Diamond and Cheval Grand were first and fourth in their previous start in the Kyoto Daishoten (G2, 2,400m; Oct.8).
Last year’s Kikuka Sho (Japanese St. Leger, G1, 3,000m) winner Kiseki and race favorite and winner of the Osaka Hai (G1, 2,000m) Suave Richard finished third and 10th, respectively, in the Tenno Sho (Autumn).
2016 Hong Kong Vase (G1, 2,400m) and 2017 Takarazuka Kinen victor Satono Crown came off a 12th in his bid to defend his Takarazuka Kinen title in June.
Others included 2016 Japan Cup runner-up Sounds of Earth who came off a ninth in the Mainichi Okan (G2, 1,800m; Oct.7) while Win Tenderness, winner of the Meguro Kinen (G2, 2,500m), Ganko, victor of the Nikkei Sho (G2, 2,500m) and Noble Mars, third in the Takarazuka Kinen (G1, 2,200m), came into the race after finishing fourth, sixth and ninth, respectively, in the Copa Republica Argentina (G2, 2,500m; Nov.4). 2017 St. Lite Kinen (G2, 2,200m) champion Mikki Swallow and NAR (National Association of Racing; local public racing) Hokkaido-based Happy Grin were also among the line-up.


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