2007 JRA Awards


ADMIRE MOON NAMED JRA'S 2007 HORSE OF THE YEAR

2007 JRA Award
■RACEHORSES ■TRAINERS & JOCKEYS ■JRA EQUINE CULTURAL AWARD

Japan's late-blooming colt Admire Moon, winner of three G1 races in his final season, was presented today with the Japan Racing Association's top honor, 2007 Horse of the Year, as well as Best Older Colt or Horse. In addition to receiving 178 out of 289 possible votes for Horse of the Year, Admire Moon also collected an overwhelming 249 votes for Best Older Colt or Horse.

The End Sweep colt, who came on strong late in his three-year-old season in 2006, matured as a first-class winner in his final season of racing. After scoring his first G1 victory overseas in the UAE's Dubai Duty Free, he returned home and triumphed in two more prestigious G1 races, the Takarazuka Kinen and Japan Cup, capping off a spectacular season that distinguished him from the rest of the field.

Daiwa Scarlet, second in line for Horse of the Year but more than 100 votes behind Admire Moon, was named Best Three-Year-Old Filly. Together with her main rival, Vodka, the two fillies set high standards for three-year-old fillies in 2007. Daiwa Scarlet claimed most of the G1 events for fillies and mares, and also proved herself in G1 competition against older mixed field, while Vodka bested the top middle-distance male three-year-olds to become the first filly in 64 years to claim the Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby). The Special Award was presented both to Vodka and Meisho Samson, the latter making history by claiming the Tenno Sho Spring (G1) and Tenno Sho Autumn (G1) in the same year, only the fourth horse in JRA history to claim this accomplishment, along with Tamamo Cross (1988), Special Week (1999) and T M Opera O (2000).

Daiwa Major, winner of the Yasuda Kinen (G1) and Mile Championship (G1), won Best Sprinter or Miler for the second year in a row, earning a commanding 234 votes. Other awardees, also selected by wide margins, include Goshawk Ken (Best Two-Year-Old Colt), Tall Poppy (Best Two-Year-Old Filly), Vermilion (Best Dirt Horse) and Merci A Time (Best Steeplechase Horse).

Eight out of 11 awards presented to horses this year were won by vote totals exceeding 200. The only marginally close vote was for Best Horse by Home-Bred Sire, in which Daiwa Scarlet and Vodka each attracted over 100 votes, with Daiwa Scarlet winning by 40 votes.

Much-awarded trainer Kazuo Fujisawa returned to primacy for most races won, his first championship since 2004 but eleventh overall, while Hideaki Fujiwara won his first JRA Award in his sixth season as a trainer. Hiroyoshi Matsuda, who saddled Admire Moon to success, claimed titles for money earned and training technique.

Superstar jockey Yutaka Take turned in another historic season, first by surpassing Yukio Okabe's all-time record of 2,943 career wins and then by reaching the unprecedented milestone of 3,000 wins in November. These feats, along with champion jockey titles for wins and money earned, brought him a Special Award, given to only three other jockeys in the past. Take also continued his streak of at least one JRA award every year since being named Best Newcomer Jockey in 1987. Katsumi Ando led the field with highest winning average.

The Equine Culture Award, which recognizes noteworthy achievements and contributions to Japanese equine culture, was presented for two publications: "MANDALA OF EQUUS" by Rikako Kimura and "Outstanding Horseshoeing Techniques of Soh Nishiuchi-Charismatic Farrier " by Tetsu Josaki.

Note: All information, including ages and race performances, are as of December 31, 2007, unless otherwise indicated.



HORSE OF THE YEAR and BEST OLDER COLT OR HORSE:

ADMIRE MOON (JPN)

ADMIRE MOON (JPN)

4-year-old colt, bay

Sire / Dam (Sire of Dam): End Sweep / My Katies (Sunday Silence)
Owner: Darley Japan Farm Co., Ltd.
Breeder: Northern Farm
Trainer: Hiroyoshi Matsuda
2007 Wins / Starts: 4 / 6 (incl. 1 win overseas)
Career Wins / Starts: 10 / 17
2007 Earnings: ¥835,183,300
Career Earnings: ¥1,187,727,000
Principal Wins in 2007: Kyoto Kinen (G2), Dubai Duty Free (G1), Takarazuka Kinen (G1), Japan Cup (G1)

Admire Moon won both Horse of the Year and Best Older Colt or Horse by comfortable margins in his final racing season, which was capped off with an impressive win in the Japan Cup (G1, 2,400m). When he debuted in July 2005 of his two-year-old season, Admire Moon won his first three career starts in Hokkaido, including his first grade-race title in the Sapporo Nisai Stakes (1,800m), his third outing. He was a nose-margin short of a perfect score in his debut season, finishing second to Sakura Mega Wonder in the Radio Tampa Hai Nisai stakes (2,000m).

Video (ADMIRE MOON):
Kyoto Kinen (G2 - Japanese) HIGH LOW
Takarazuka Kinen (G1 - English) HIGH LOW
Japan Cup (G1 - English) HIGH LOW

Partnered with champion jockey Yutaka Take throughout his 2006 campaign, Admire Moon added three grade-race victories, but was defeated by Meisho Samson in the first two Triple Crown races. Although he passed up his third Triple Crown contest against three-year-olds, he proved well up to G1 standards against older horses when he finished third to Daiwa Major in the 2006 Tenno Sho Autumn (G1, 2,000m). He followed this up with a runner-up effort on the international stage in the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Cup (G1, HK, 2,000m), placing a short head behind multiple European G1 winner Pride (FRA).

The late developing bay flew out of the gate this season with back-to-back wins in the Kyoto Kinen (G2, 2,200m) and the Dubai Duty Free (G1, UAE, 1,777m), his second overseas outing. After a third-place finish behind John Moore-trained Viva Pataca (GBR) in the Audemars Piguet QE II Cup (G1, HK, 2,000m), He entered the Takarazuka Kinen (G1, 2,200m) and finally beat Meisho Samson, making headway early at the stretch and shaking off his Triple Crown rival with 100 meters to go.

Although bumped by a rival in his last start in the Tenno Sho Autumn and finishing sixth, Admire Moon put in a solid performance with the aid of clever tactics by jockey Yasunari Iwata, who saved as much ground as possible for the End Sweep colt, who was widely considered best suited to middle distances. In the Japan Cup, his final race, Admire Moon took the lead in the stretch and showed his tenacious spirit to hold off a strong field of international G1 and Triple Crown winners and score his third G1 victory of the season.

He is now retired to stud at Darley Japan Farm Co., Ltd. in Hokkaido.

Top


BEST TWO-YEAR-OLD COLT:

GOSHAWK KEN (USA)

GOSHAWK KEN (USA)

2-year-old colt, dark bay or brown

Sire / Dam (Sire of Dam): Bernstein / Allthewaybaby (Grand Slam)
Owner: Yoshio Fujita
Breeder: Four Horsemen's Ranch
Trainer: Makoto Saito
2007 Wins / Starts: 2 / 3
Career Wins / Starts: 2 / 3
2007 Earnings: ¥72,976,000
Career Earnings: ¥72,976,000
Principal Win in 2007:Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes

Goshawk Ken won this year's JRA Award for Best Two-Year-Old Colt after having claimed the season's championship title for 2-year-old colts in spectacular style in the Asahi Futurity Stakes (1,600m). The US-bred Bernstein colt was purchased from M & H Training & Sales for USD160,000 by owner Yoshio Fujita at the 2007 March Sale, and was placed under Makoto Saito at Miho Training Center. His potential was soon recognized when he easily won his debut at Tokyo Racecourse (1,600m) in 1:34.9-a race record for newcomers.

Video (GOSHAWK KEN):
Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes
(Japanese)
HIGH LOW

Lacking adequate training due to an inflammation in his left fore fetlock, he finished fourth in his next start and had to win out a one-to-eight competition between one-win nominees to draw a ticket for a remaining gate in the two year's colt championship race. Seemingly determined to prove his form, the dark bay colt gave a good jump from the start and set a fast pace throughout the journey. He continued at a fast pace along the steep uphill stretch as many of the front-runners began to tire, but even the late-chargers were unable to reach the colt. Goshawk Ken won the race by 2-1/2 lengths and in 1:33.5, 0.1 second short of the race record, giving Saito his first grade- one victory in just his second season as a trainer

Much attention is being focused on the 2008 racing agenda of Goshawk Ken, a speed horse with the potential to extend his distance for the three-year-old classics.

Top


BEST TWO-YEAR-OLD FILLY:

TALL POPPY (JPN)

TALL POPPY (JPN)

2-year-old filly, bay

Sire / Dam (Sire of Dam): Jungle Pocket / Admire Sunday (Sunday Silence)
Owner: U. Carrot Farm
Breeder: Northern Farm
Trainer: Katsuhiko Sumii
2007 Wins / Starts: 2 / 4
Career Wins / Starts: 2 / 4
2007 Earnings: ¥73,198,000
Career Earnings: ¥73,198,000
Principal Win in 2007: Hanshin Juvenile Fillies

Tall Poppy was an uncontested winner for the 2007 Best Two-Year-Old Filly. This is the second year in a row for trainer Katsuhiko Sumii to produce a winner in this category, following Vodka in 2006. Sumii, who is now an internationally recognized trainer with overseas winners such as Delta Blues, Cesario and Hat Trick, came into this year's Two-Year-Old Filly championship race much like with Vodka last year-having scored one win and finishing second against a mixed field in the Kigiku Sho (1,800m).

Video (TALL POPPY):
Hanshin Juvenile Fillies
(Japanese)
HIGH LOW

Tall Poppy, having won a 50/50 chance in a draw to run in the Hanshin Juvenile Fillies, was sent to post third favorite and started from stall 15 in a field of 18. Despite losing considerable ground on the outside in 12th position, the Jungle Pocket filly overtook her rivals with every stride down the stretch and held off a chase from Reve d'Amour to win in 1:33.8 over the mile distance.

Sired by 2001 Japan Cup winner Jungle Pocket (by Tony Bin) out of Admire Sunday, she is a full sister to multiple grade-race winner Fusaichi Ho O. Her 2008 season should be punctuated with many of the biggest events for three-year-old fillies, including the 1000 Guineas and Japanese Oaks.

Top


BEST THREE-YEAR-OLD COLT:

ASAKUSA KINGS (JPN)

ASAKUSA KINGS (JPN)

3-year-old colt, bay

Sire / Dam (Sire of Dam): White Muzzle / Croupier Star (Sunday Silence)
Owner: Keiko Tahara
Breeder: Shadai Farm
Trainer: Ryuji Okubo
2007 Wins / Starts: 2 / 7
Career Wins / Starts: 4 / 10
Earnings in 2007: ¥288,715,000
Career Earnings: ¥309,097,000
Principal Wins in 2007: Kikuka Sho (Japanese St. Leger)

Asakusa Kings was presented the Best Three-Year-Old title with 254 votes, a just award for an outstanding season in 2007. After two wins out of three starts as a two-year-old, Asakusa Kings kicked off his three-year-old campaign with his first grade-race victory in the Kisaragi Sho (1,800m). In the Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas), he fell behind another front-runner in an early bid for the lead and finished seventh. But then Asakusa Kings gave a tenacious performance in the second leg of the Triple Crown (Japanese Derby, 2,400m), maintaining the lead for most of the way until being overtaken by Vodka, but he held off the rest of the field by 1-3/4 lengths.

Video (ASAKUSA KINGS):
Kikuka Sho
(Japanese St. Leger - Japanese)
HIGH LOW

Coming off a three-month spell during the summer, the White Muzzle colt resumed his fall campaign with a 1/2-length second in the Kikuka Sho trial and was sent to post fourth favorite for the last leg of the Triple Crown, the Kikuka Sho (Japanese St. Leger, 3,000m). The seasoned colt settled well behind the pacesetter, Asakusa Kings drew level with the leaders coming into the stretch and won out a fierce rally in the last 200 meters for his first grade-one victory.

His connections, greatly satisfied with the late developer's steady progress, expressed their ambition to capture more grade-race titles against older G1 company in 2008.

Top


BEST THREE-YEAR-OLD FILLY and BEST HORSE BY HOME-BRED SIRE

DAIWA SCARLET (JPN)

DAIWA SCARLET (JPN)

3-year-old filly, chestnut

Sire / Dam (Sire of Dam): Agnes Tachyon / Scarlet Bouquet (Northern Taste)
Owner: Keizo Oshiro
Breeder: Shadai Farm
Trainer: Kunihide Matsuda
2007 Wins / Starts: 4 / 7
Career Wins / Starts: 6 / 9
2007 Earnings: ¥461,394,000
Career Earnings: ¥484,611,000
Principal Wins in 2007: Oka Sho (Japanese 1000 Guineas), Shuka Sho, Queen Elizabeth II Commemorative Cup (G1)

Daiwa Scarlet's overall performance in 2007 provided ample proof that the Agnes Tachyon filly deserved the Best Three-Year-Old filly title. Meeting the high expectations that fell upon her as the sister of Daiwa Major, the champion miler and multiple grade-one winner, Daiwa Scarlet won four and finishing second in three of seven starts, beating Vodka in three out of four encounters. Remaining competitive to the end of the season, she took on a selected mixed field of G1 runners in the Arima Kinen (G1, 2,500m) and beat her mighty brother in the process.

Video (DAIWA SCARLET):
Oka Sho
(Japanese 1000 Guineas - Japanese)
HIGH LOW
Shuka Sho (Japanese) HIGH LOW
Queen Elizabeth II
Commemorative Cup (G1 - English)
HIGH LOW

Debuting in November 2006, Daiwa Scarlet scored two wins out of as many starts and then had two runner-up efforts before being sent to post third favorite in the Oka Sho (Japanese 1000 Guineas, 1,600m). Starting from way outside in stall 18, jockey Katsumi Ando moved her early in the stretch and she held off a fierce chase from Vodka for her first grade-one victory.

With Vodka opting to contest male counterparts in the Japanese Derby, Daiwa Scarlet was considered a heavy favorite for the Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks, 2,400m), but her chance of claiming a second classic title was put to rest when her connection withdrew her entry due to a fever.

Resuming her fall campaign in September, she promptly landed her second grade-race victory in the Rose Stakes (1,800m) and followed it with another victory in the Shuka Sho (2,000m)-considered the third leg of the g3-year-old filly's Triple Crown,h together with the Oka Sho and the Yushun Himba. In her first G1 attempt against older fillies and mares in the Queen Elizabeth II Commemorative Cup (G1, 2,000m), Daiwa Scarlet confirmed her dominance over all ages in her gender. Her final race of the season, a runner-up effort in the Arima Kinen, boosted her annual purses to a whopping 461 million yen.

Her plans for 2008 are being carefully selected, with an overseas challenge in Dubai possibly on the agenda.

Top


BEST OLDER FILLY OR MARE:

KOIUTA (JPN)

KOIUTA (JPN)

4-year-old filly, dark chestnut

Sire / Dam (Sire of Dam): Fuji Kiseki / Violet Love (Dr. Devious)
Owner: Maekawa Kikaku Co., Ltd.
Breeder: Shadai Farm
Trainer: Masashi Okuhira
2007 Wins / Starts: 1 / 8
Career Wins / Starts: 5 / 20
2007 Earnings: ¥110,040,000
Career Earnings: ¥236,292,000
Principal Wins in 2007: Victoria Mile

The Best Older Filly or Mare title for 2007 went to Koiuta, who collected 113 votes largely on the strength of her performance in the Victoria Mile (1,600m), her first win in almost 14 months and a long awaited grade-one victory.

Video (KOIUTA):
Victoria Mile (G1 - English) HIGH LOW

After two wins and a third out of five starts as a two-year-old, Koiuta won the first two starts of her three-year-old campaign, which included a grade-three victory in the Daily Hai Queen Cup (1,600m) and third in the 2006 Oka Sho (Japanese 1000 Guineas). However, she was pulled up mid-race after injuring her right shoulder during the Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks).

In her four-year-old season, Koiuta picked up form in her third start of 2007, the Lord Derby Challenge (1,600m). Then, she put it all together in the Victoria Mile, producing a sharp turn of speed to beat race favorites such as 2006 Oaks winner Kawakami Princess and multiple G1 winner Sweep Tosho.

After an unsuccessful endeavor in the USA, where she finished last in the Cash Call Mile Stakes (G2, 1,600m) at Hollywood Park in July, she was unable to maintain form in three grade-race starts against male runners in the fall. But the Fuji Kiseki filly will continue to train in 2008 with high hopes for continued success.

Top


BEST SPRINTER OR MILER:

DAIWA MAJOR (JPN)

6-year-old horse, chestnut

Sire / Dam (Sire of Dam): Sunday Silence / Scarlet Bouquet (Northern Taste)
Owner: Keizo Oshiro
Breeder: Shadai Farm
Trainer: Hiroyuki Uehara
2007 Wins / Starts: 2 / 7
Career Wins / Starts: 9 / 28
2007 Earnings: ¥329,134,900
Career Earnings: ¥1,061,810,900
Principal Wins in 2007: Yasuda Kinen (G1), Mile Championship (G1)

Daiwa Major attracted a majority of votes to claim the JRA's Best Sprinter or Miler Award for the second consecutive year.

Video (DAIWA MAJOR):
Yasuda Kinen (G1 - English) HIGH LOW
Mile Championship (G1 - English) HIGH LOW

He started his 2007 season in the Dubai Duty Free (G1, 1,777m), where he finished third behind Admire Moon after being forced to race wide throughout. But he promptly came back to record his first victory of the season and fourth G1 overall in the Yasuda Kinen (G1, 1,600m). Although defeated by Admire Moon again in the Takarazuka Kinen (G1, 2,200m), the champion miler defended his title in the Mile Championship (G1, 1,600m) and secured his position as champion miler by winning both the spring and autumn mile G1 events.

After winning the Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas) as a three-year-old, the road to stardom did not come easily, but his true talent surfaced after he recovered from a mid-career surgery to correct a wind problem. Following a successful five- and six-year-old season, Daiwa Major concluded his racing career by finishing third in the Arima Kinen in December. With a total of five G1 victories and three other grade-race victories to his name, Daiwa Major has now begun a new career as stud at Shadai Stallion Station.

Top


BEST DIRT HORSE:

VERMILION (JPN)

VERMILION (JPN)

5-year-old horse, dark bay or brown

Sire / Dam (Sire of Dam): El Condor Pasa / Scarlet Lady (Sunday Silence)
Owner: Sunday Racing Co., Ltd.
Breeder: Northern Farm
Trainer: Sei Ishizaka
2007 Wins / Starts: 4 / 5
Career Wins / Starts: 10 / 21
2007 Earnings: ¥409,360,500
Career Earnings: ¥651,569,500
Principal Win in 2007: Japan Cup Dirt (G1)

Vermilion's fourth in the Dubai World Cup (G1, 2,000m, dirt) in March was framed with major dirt titles both before and after his overseas challenge-the Kawasaki Kinen (2,100m, dirt) and the JBC Classic (2,000m, dirt), respectively. He then proceeded to win the Japan Cup Dirt (G1, 2,100m, dirt) before capping off 2007 with his fourth grade-one title, resulting in four wins out of five starts.

Video (VERMILION):
Japan Cup Dirt (G1 - English) HIGH LOW

Sired by 1998 Japan Cup winner El Condor Pasa, who later won the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud (G1, FRA, 2,400m) before finishing second to Montjue in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (G1, FRA, 2,400m) in 1999, Vermilion began as a two-year-old and won two of four starts, the latter being his first grade-race victory, the 2004 Radio Tamapa Hai Nisai Stakes (2,000m). He was second in his other two starts.

Coming into his three-year-old season, however, he fell into a deep slump by finishing in double-digit places in his first four starts, ending any hopes of aiming for the turf classics. After switching to dirt races in October; however, he immediately won two in a row, including his second grade-race victory in the 2005 Urawa Kinen (2,000m, dirt) in just his second start. The dark bay horse then proved himself especially consistent from the fall of 2006, winning two grade-race starts as he headed towards his five-year-old campaign.

His connections have announced their intention to continue training Vermilion for the 2008 season, including a second challenge in Dubai during his spring campaign.

Top


BEST STEEPLECHASE HORSE:

MERCI A TIME (JPN)

MERCI A TIME (JPN)

5-year-old horse, bay

Sire / Dam (Sire of Dam): Chief Bearhart / Machikane Carmen (Thrill Show)
Owner: Yasuo Nagai
Breeder: Hiroyuki Tanaka
Trainer: Kohei Take
2007 Wins / Starts: 3 / 5 (3 / 4 ; jump races)
Career Wins / Starts: 6 / 27 (5 / 14; jump races)
2007 Earnings: ¥171,369,000 (¥169,469,000; jump races)
Career Earnings: ¥301,394,000 (¥287,294,000; jump races)
Principal Win in 2007: Nakayama Daishogai

Merci A Time's outstanding performance throughout the 2007 season was appreciated so much he received more than 280 votes as this year's overwhelming pick for Best Steeplechase Horse.

Video (MERCI A TIME):
Nakayama Daishogai
(J-G1 - Japanese)
HIGH LOW

Unraced as a two-year-old, the Chief Bearhart colt won his debut at three, but he then was unable to finish within the first three in his next 11 starts. Tried over jumps in November 2005, the bay colt took to steeplechase immediately and landed his first win in just his second start. By his fourth start he was lined up in one of the JRA's biggest grade-one steeplechase events, the Nakayama Daishogai, where he was second to fellow three-year-old T. M. Dragon, the 2005 Best Steeplechase Horse.

Merci A Time has proved a reliable jumper and a consistent runner ever since, finishing within the money in ten out of 14 career starts. He was still looking for his first grade-race title in June 2007 when he claimed a grade-two event in the Tokyo High Jump, and then finally captured a grade-one title in the Nakayama Daishogai in his third attempt. He concluded the 2007 season with three wins and two thirds out of five starts.

Matured and in his prime as a six-year-old, the talented jumper has proved problem-free and in good form in all of his starts, giving cause for continued high expectations.

Top


SPECIAL AWARD:

VODKA (JPN)

VODKA (JPN)

3-year-old filly, bay

Sire / Dam (Sire of Dam): Tanino Gimlet / Tanino Sister (Rousillon)
Owner: Yuzo Tanimizu
Breeder: Country Bokujo
Trainer: Katsuhiko Sumii
2007 Wins / Starts: 3 / 9
Career Wins / Starts: 5 / 11
2007 Earnings: ¥354,620,000
Career Earnings: ¥427,010,000
Principal Win in 2007: Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby)

Vodka made history in the 2007 Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby, 2,400m), the second leg of the three-year-old's Triple Crown, by defeating the top three-year-olds of the opposite gender to become the first filly in 64 years and third overall to claim the Derby title. Her sire, Tanino Gimlet, had captured the same race title in 2002.

Video (VODKA):
Tokyo Yushun
(Japanese Derby - Japanese)
HIGH LOW

With two wins, including the two-year-old fillies' championship race, as well as a second, she was named Best Two-Year-Old Filly in 2006. Having set a very high standard for herself, she more than reconfirmed her worth this year, turning in a remarkable season that deserved a second consecutive JRA Award.

Vodka kicked off 2007 in the Elfin Stakes (1,600m), trotting home to a three-length victory despite carrying two kilos more than her rivals. Although defeated by Daiwa Scarlet in the Oka Sho (Japanese 1000 Guineas, 1,600m), she rewarded her connections' faith in her in the Tokyo Yushun. After racing mid-division, the bay filly exerted a magnificent turn of foot and drew away to a three-length victory in the Japanese Derby.

The latter half of the season, however, did not go smoothly for the Tanino Gimlet filly. A plan to race her overseas was hindered by foot problems, which also affected her major starts in the fall. Nevertheless, her accomplishment in the Tokyo Yushun was considered well worth the JRA's Special Award, and good reason for hope in the coming 2008 season.

Top



MEISHO SAMSON (JPN)

MEISHO SAMSON (JPN)

4-year-old colt, bay

Sire / Dam (Sire of Dam): Opera House / My Vivien (Dancing Brave)
Owner: Yoshio Matsumoto
Breeder: Koki Hayashi
Trainer: Shigetada Takahashi
2007 Wins / Starts: 3 / 6
Career Wins / Starts: 9 / 21
2007 Earnings: ¥453,526,000
Career Earnings: ¥958,185,000
Principal Wins in 2007: Sankei Osaka Hai (G2), Tenno Sho Spring (G1), Tenno Sho Autumn (G1)

Meisho Samson, after winning the Best Three-Year-Old title in 2006, turned in an historic performance in 2007 to earn himself a Special Award, together with co-winner Vodka.

Video (MEISHO SAMSON):
Sankei Osaka Hai (G2 - Japanese) HIGH LOW
Tenno Sho Spring (G1 - English) HIGH LOW
Tenno Sho Autumn (G1 - English) HIGH LOW

Ironically, the achievement was made possible by the cancellation of his intended trip to Europe, the result of an equine influenza outbreak that affected many horses and their training schedules. Kicking off his four-year-old campaign in good form with a win in the Sankei Osaka Hai (G2, 2,000m), Meisho Samson was sent to post second favorite for the 3,200 meter Tenno Sho Spring (G1). Defying predictions that the Opera House colt could not stay the extra distance, Meisho Samson gave a solid, fast-pace performance to the head of the stretch, then, held off a fast-closing rival to mark his third G1 victory in the second quickest time on record.

After finishing second to Admire Moon in the Takarazuka Kinen (G1, 2,200m), it was officially announced that he would challenge the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe with the great Yutaka Take. But the trip was suddenly undercut by the horse flu outbreak, forcing his connections to cancel the ambitious plan.

Sent to post as the favorite in the Tenno Sho Autumn (G1, 2,000m) after a four-month hiatus, Meisho Samson gave perhaps the finest performance of his career against not only defending champion Daiwa Major, but also eventual Horse of the Year Admire Moon, who had beaten him previously. Although most of his victories had been won by close margins, Meisho Samson exhibited a newfound power to open up a comfortable 2-1/2 lengths and cruise to victory in 1:58.4 seconds over a "good" track. Although slow-paced races did not work his way in his last two starts, the Japan Cup and the Arima Kinen, winning both Tenno Sho titles in the same year-only the fourth horse in JRA history to do so-was a remarkable feat that deserving of a Special Award.

Connections have expressed their intentions to continue training Meisho Samson in 2008, beginning with the Kyoto Kinen and then possibly an overseas challenge in Dubai in March.

Top


BEST TRAINER (RACES WON):

KAZUO FUJISAWA


KAZUO FUJISAWA

Age: 56 (September 22, 1951)
Trainer's License: 1987
First Race: March 12, 1988 (Keiai Power; 3rd)
First Win: April 24, 1988 (Galdan)
Principal Wins in 2007:   Keisei Hai Autumn Handicap (G3; Kings Trail), Spring Stakes (Flying Apple), Queen Cup (Excuse)
2007 Wins / Starts (winning percentage): 48 / 322 (15.0%)
Career Wins / Starts: 921 / 4,887
2007 Earnings: ¥954,248,000

Kazuo Fujisawa reached a remarkable milestone in 2007, claiming his eleventh national trainer's title with the most wins in the season. After becoming a champion trainer for the first time in 1993, Fujisawa next held the title for an impressive six straight years, from 1995 to 2000. He missed out by just two wins in 2001, but quickly returned to the victor's podium in 2002 and 2003. Although he went without a champion title for a few years thereafter, he nevertheless saddled outstanding grade-one runners such as Dance in the Mood and 2004 Japan Cup winner Zenno Rob Roy. In 2005, he picked up his ninth JRA award for training technique.

Constantly at the top of the JRA's national rankings, Fujisawa currently has 69 registered runners under his care. He is especially known for his unique method in selecting races best suited to each horse's abilities and timing, resulting in an incredible strike rate just short of 30% in finishing within second place.

One of the pioneers in the internationalization of Japanese horse racing, Fujisawa studied the art of training and horsemanship at Prichard Gordon Stables in Newmarket, Great Britain. After earning his training license in Japan, he won his first grade-race title in 1992 with Shinko Lovely, who went on to capture five more grade-race titles, including his first G1 victory in the Mile Championship. He also had success overseas with Taiki Shuttle in the 1998 Prix Jacques le Marois (G1, FRA, 1,600m).

His best horses have included Shinko Lovely, Bubble Gum Fellow, Taiki Blizzard, Shinko King, Taiki Shuttle (1998 Horse of the Year), Zenno El Cid, Diamond Biko and Symboli Kris S. (2002 and 2003 Horse of the Year), Zenno Rob Roy (2004 Horse of the Year) and Dance in the Mood.

Top


BEST TRAINER (WINNING AVERAGE):

HIDEAKI FUJIWARA


HIDEAKI FUJIWARA

Age: 42 (June 29, 1965)
Trainer's License: 2000
First Race: March 3, 2001 (Invisible Touch; 1st)
First Win: March 3, 2001 (Invisible Touch)
Principal Wins in 2007:   Fuchu Himba Stakes (G3; Daring Heart), Kyoto Shimbun Hai (Tascata Sorte)
2007 Wins / Starts (winning percentage): 37 / 202 (18.3%)
Career Wins / Starts: 171 / 1,346
2007 Earnings: ¥653,671,000

Hideaki Fujiwara shot up to the list of top ten trainers in 2007, his sixth season as a trainer, and wound up winning his first JRA award in the process.

Debuting in 2001 after 10 years as assistant to Kaoru Hoshikawa in Ritto, Fujiwara won his first race at Hanshin with Invisible Touch, landed his first two grade-race victories with Tenzan Seiza in the Keihan Hai (G3) and the Kyoto Shimbun Hai (G2), and then concluded his rookie season with 15 wins out of 149 starts. He doubled his wins in 2006, during which he captured five grade-race titles with Toho Alan, Daring Heart, and Macky Max, finishing 18th in the national rankings.

Armed with a string of quality two-year-olds and three-year-olds who helped him boost his 2007 winning percentage to 18.3% (35% within second), he has high hopes for another successful season in 2008.

Top


BEST TRAINER (MONEY EARNED): and BEST TRAINER (TRAINING TECHNIQUE):

HIROYOSHI MATSUDA


HIROYOSHI MATSUDA

Age: 61 (January 29, 1946)
Trainer's License: 1981
First Race: March 19, 1983 (Hatsushige; 14th)
First Win: April 23, 1983 (Bold Smith)
Principal Wins in 2007:   Dubai Duty Free (G1, Admire Moon), Japan Cup (G1; Admire Moon),
  Takarazuka Kinen (G1, Admire Moon), Kyoto Kinen (G2; Admire Moon)
2007 Wins / Starts (winning percentage): 41 / 253 (15.9%)
Career Wins / Starts: 517 / 4,518
2007 Earnings: ¥1,650, 301,300

Hiroyoshi Matsuda claimed his second consecutive JRA title in earnings in 2007, and surpassed personal bests for wins as well as earnings in the previous year. Matsuda and Admire Moon captured three G1 victories, including overseas in the Dubai Duty Free (G1, UAE). He also scored good results with three-year-old Admire Aura in a number of major events.

A former jockey with a record of 188 wins out of 1,037 rides between 1965 and 1979, he won two major titles (now listed as G2 races) on the flat and six titles over jumps. After acquiring his trainer's license in 1981, he focused mainly on training jumpers, resulting in his first major victory with Bull King in the '83 Hanshin Shogai Stakes Autumn.

His interest in flat racing soared after a victory with Cosmo Dream in his first G1, the Japanese Oaks (2,400m) classic. Since then, he has trained a number of outstanding G1 winners, including Vega (1993 Japanese Oaks, 1993 Oka Sho, Japanese 1000 Guineas), Admire Don (2001Asashi Hai Futurity Stakes, 2004 February Stakes) and Time Paradox (2004 Japan Cup Dirt). In total, he has accumulated 41 grade-race wins.

Top


BEST JOCKEY (RACES WON): and BEST JOCKEY (MONEY EARNED): and SPECIAL AWARD:

YUTAKA TAKE


YUTAKA TAKE

Age: 38 (March 15, 1969)
Jockey's License: 1987
First Race: March 1, 1987 (Agnes Dictor; 2nd)
First Win: March 7, 1987 (Dyna Bishop)
Principal Wins in 2007:   Japan Cup Dirt (G1; Vermilion), Tenno Sho Autumn (G1; Meisho Samson),
  Takamatsunomiya Kinen (G1; Suzuka Phoenix), Dubai Duty Free (G1, UAE;Admire Moon),
Hanshin Daishoten (G2; Eye Popper), Kyoto Kinen (G2; Admire Moon)
2007 Wins / Starts (winning percentage): 166 / 750 (22.13%)
Career Wins / Starts: 3,142 / 14,940
2007 Earnings: ¥4,112,676,900

Yutaka Take remains absolutely unrivaled in Japan. The superstar jockey, after a thrilling season with legendary Deep Impact in 2006, accomplished yet another extraordinary feat this year by breaking the JRA all-time record for career victories (2,944) in July and then reaching the unprecedented milestone of 3,000 wins in November. What's more, he led the field in races won and money earned, thereby extending his record of champion jockey titles. The numerous achievements also earned him a Special Award. Take's winning percentage of 22.13% left him just 1.55 points short of claiming his tenth Grand Prize for leading all three categories.

The third son of jockey-turned-trainer Kunihiko Take, Yutaka started riding at 10 and has been a star from the very beginning, winning three graded races in his first season and capturing his first G1 and classic title with Super Creek in the Kikuka Sho (Japanese St. Leger, 3,000m) in 1988.

Since collecting over 100 wins in his debut season, he has continued to win year after year in Japan. He also has gained international recognition with G1 victories in Europe and regular appearances in major races in Hong Kong, Dubai and the USA, including his most recent overseas victory with Admire Moon in the Dubai Duty Free (G1, UAE). He scored at least 200 wins for three consecutive years from 2003 to 2005, and holds the record of 212 wins in a single season, which he set in 2005.

Top


BEST JOCKEY (WINNING AVERAGE)

KATSUMI ANDO


KATSUMI ANDO

Age: 47 (March 28, 1960)
Jockey's License: 2003
First Race: May 11, 1980 (Yamaninsky, 1st)*
First Win: May 11, 1980 (Yamaninsky, 1st)*
Principal Wins in 2007:   Mile Championship (G1; Daiwa Major), Queen Elizabeth II Commemorative Cup (G1; Daiwa Scarlet),
  Yasuda Kinen (G1; Daiwa Major), February Stakes (G1;Sunrise Bacchus),
  Nikkei Shinshun Hai (G2; Tokai World)
2007 Wins / Starts: 138 / 583 (23.67%)
Career Wins / Starts: 836 / 5,029
2007 Earnings: ¥3,073,221,900
* raced in JRA races under NAR jockey license

Katsumi Ando claimed this year's JRA title for winning rate with 23.67%. The highlights of his 2007 season included more successes with Daiwa Major, with whom he captured the Yasuda Kinen (G1) and his second consecutive Mile Championship (G1). A new partner, Daiwa Scarlet, who is out of the same mare as Daiwa Major, provided him with wins in most of the G1 events for fillies and mares, while dirt specialist Sunrise Bacchus also contributed to Ando's six major titles.

Ando began his career riding in NAR regional public races at Kasamatsu at the age of just 16. His first win was with Junior China in his sixth career start, which he won by a staggering 5-length margin. He reigned as champion NAR jockey for 18 years before transferring in 2003 to the JRA, where he quickly earned the respect of both the racing community and fans.

Ever since his first win as a JRA jockey just two weeks after his JRA debut, Ando has captured numerous grade-race titles and celebrated his 700th win in April.

Top


BEST STEEPLECHASE JOCKEY:

MAKOTO NISHITANI


MAKOTO NISHITANI

Age: 31 (October 15, 1976)
Jockey's License: 1995
First Race: March 4, 1995 (Top Leader; 5th)
First Win: March 5, 1995 (Radish Power)
Principal Win in 2007: Tokyo High Jump (Merci A Time)
2007 Wins / Starts: 15 / 64 (steeplechase only)
Career Wins / Starts: 88 / 603 (steeplechase only)
2007 Earnings: ¥306,463,000 (steeplechase only)

Makoto Nishitani won his second JRA Award for Best Steeplechase Jockey by concluding the 2007 season with 15 wins-two more than last season-including a grade-race title in the Tokyo High Jump with Merci A Time. He also reached his 100th win in JRA races in January by winning a steeplechase maiden race with Gorgeous Dinner.

Nishitani debuted as stable jockey for Tsutomu Setoguchi in 1995 and scored more than 10 wins in about 200 mounts in his first two seasons on the flat. However, he increasingly began to concentrate on obstacle racing-perhaps due to his relatively tall frame of well over 170cm. His ability in jumping, already well noted in his debut year, shined in 1998 and 1999 when he partnered with Godspeed for his first major victory in the Hanshin Shogai Stakes Spring and then the 1999 Nakayama Daishogai (4,100m), the latter earning Godspeed the JRA award for Best Steeplechase Horse of 1999.

His other top horses have included Onward Meteor, winner of the 2002 Tokyo High Jump, T M Dragon, winner of the 2005 Kyoto High Jump, and Maruka Rascal, who captured the Nakayama Daishogai in 2006.

Top


BEST JOCKEY (NEWCOMER):

None Selected

Top




JRA Equine Cultural Award

Nominees for the 2007 JRA Equine Cultural Award included publications, cultural events and art exhibitions that were either published or held between November 2006 and October 2007. A committee of journalists and other distinguished people from academic and artistic fields chose three finalists for further screening. In the end, they awarded the JRA Equine Cultural Award to two equally outstanding publications:"MANDALA OF EQUUS - Field Science for Wild Horses, Zebras and Donkeys" by Rikako Kimura and "Outstanding Horseshoeing Techniques of Soh Nishiuchi-Charismatic Farrier" by Tetsu Josaki.

"MANDALA OF EQUUS - Field Science for Wild Horses, Zebras and Donkeys"
by Rikako Kimura (Tokyo University Press)

"MANDALA OF EQUUS" explores the behavior of horses other than those under domestic care through Kimura's firsthand observations of wild horses around the world. Seeking answers to new questions raised by each new discovery, the author extends her interest to other extant equids, including zebras and asses, to explain her findings and their practical implications. Her travels to places such as an uninhabited islet offshore of Nemuro, Hokkaido in northern Japan, the islands of Canadian territory on Pacific Ocean and the wilds of Kenya and India, together with her experience of living with nomads in India, adds to her unique methods of studying the ethology in the wild.

Rikako Kimura

Birth: Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan, 1959
Position: Director, Research Institute on Human-Equids Relationships (India)
(Former Curator at JRA Equine Museum of Japan)
Education: BA in Agriculture, Tokyo University of Agriculture
Doctoral Program, Graduate School of Bioagricultural Sciences, Nagoya University

"Outstanding Horseshoeing Techniques of Soh Nishiuchi-Charismatic Farrier"
(Published by Byakuya Shobo)

This work turns the spotlight on Soh Nishiuchi and his state-of-the-art techniques for horseshoeing, which contributed to the glorious success of the legendary Deep Impact. While jockeys and trainers constantly grab the limelight, author Tetsu Josaki relates a detailed account of the silent, behind-the-scenes force that can make all the difference in a horse's racing career.

Tetsu Josaki

Birth: Tochigi Prefecture, Japan, 1959
Position: Freelance writer, horseracing magazine editor and staff writer for scientific magazine

Note:All information, including ages and race performances, as of December 31, 2006, unless otherwise indicated.

Top



Results of the 2007 JRA Awards (Total Votes:289)

Horse of the Year
Place Horse Votes
1 Admire Moon (JPN) 178
2 Daiwa Scarlet (JPN) 73
3 Meisho Samson (JPN) 17
4 Vodka (JPN) 12
5 Vermilion (JPN) 5
6 None Eligible 2
7 Matsurida Gogh (JPN) 1
7 Invalid 1
Total   289


Best Two-Year-Old Colt
Place Horse Votes
1 Goshawk Ken (USA) 282
2 Sadamu Idaten (JPN) 2
2 Fusaichi Assort (JPN) 2
2 None Eligible 2
5 Yamanin Kingly (JPN) 1
Total   289


Best Two-Year-Old Filly
Place Horse Votes
1 Tall Poppy (JPN) 286
2 None Eligible 3
Total   289


Best Three-Year-Old Colt
Place Horse Votes
1 Asakusa Kings (JPN) 254
2 None Eligible 30
3 Roc de Cambes (NZ) 4
4 Victory (JPN) 1
Total   289


Best Three-Year-Old Filly
Place Horse Votes
1 Daiwa Scarlet (JPN) 275
2 Vodka (JPN) 14
Total   289


Best Older Colt/Horse
Place Horse Votes
1 Admire Moon (JPN) 249
2 Meisho Samson (JPN) 37
3 Vermilion (JPN) 1
3 Daiwa Major (JPN) 1
3 Matsurida Gogh (JPN) 1
Total   289
Best Older Filly/Mare
Place Horse Votes
1 Koiuta (JPN) 113
2 None Eligible 101
3 Sans Adieu (JPN) 51
4 Fusaichi Pandora (JPN) 17
5 Dia de la Novia (JPN) 2
6 Asahi Rising (JPN) 1
6 Koei Try (JPN) 1
6 Jolly Dance (JPN) 1
6 Sweep Tosho (JPN) 1
6 Meisho Battler (JPN) 1
Total   289


Best Horse by Home-bred Sire
Place Horse Votes
1 Daiwa Scarlet (JPN) 162
2 Vodka (JPN) 123
3 Admire Aura (JPN) 1
3 Aston Machan (JPN) 1
3 Meisho Tokon (JPN) 1
3 None Eligible 1
Total   289


Best Sprinter or Miler
Place Horse Votes
1 Daiwa Major (JPN) 234
2 Suzuka Phoenix (JPN) 35
3 Aston Machan (JPN) 14
4 None Eligible 4
5 Sans Adieu (JPN) 2
Total   289


Best Dirt Horse
Place Horse Votes
1 Vermilion (JPN) 288
2 Meisho Tokon (JPN) 1
Total   289


Best Steeplechase Horse
Place Horse Votes
1 Merci A Time (JPN) 281
2 None Eligible 6
3 Koei Try (JPN) 2
Total   289


Special Award
  Vodka (JPN)
  Meisho Samson (JPN)

Top



Results of 2007 JRA Awards (cont.)

Best Trainer (races won)
Place Name Wins
1 Kazuo Fujisawa 48
2 Sakae Kunieda 42


Best Trainer (winning percentage)
Place Name %
1 Hideaki Fujiwara 18.32
2 Yasutoshi Ikee 16.36


Best Trainer (winning percentage)
Place Name Purses/yen
1 Hiroyoshi Matsuda 1,650,301,300
2 Hidetaka Otonashi 1,281,063,000


Best Trainer (training techniques)
  Hiroyoshi Matsuda judged by points based on winning frequency, purses and starts per stall
Best Jockey (races won)
Place Name Wins
1 Yutaka Take 166
2 Yasunari Iwata 155


Best Jockey (winning percentage)
Place Name %
1 Katsumi Ando 23.67
2 Yutaka Take 22.13


Best Jockey (money earned)
Place Name Purses/yen
1 Yutaka Take 4,112,676,900
2 Katsumi Ando 3,073,221,900


Best Steeplechase Jockey
Place Name Wins
1 Makoto Nishitani 15


Best Jockey (newcomer)
  None selected
Special Award
  Yutaka Take

Top