2011 JRA Awards


2011 JRA Award

Triple Crown-winner Orfevre (JPN) claimed the Japan Racing Association (JRA)'s 2011 Horse of the Year title for several outstanding achievements during his three-year-old season, coming just one vote short of becoming the fourth unanimous pick for the JRA's highest honor. The son of Stay Gold garnered the highest number of votes for any winner of this prestigious award in the last 10 years, and also distinguished himself as the unanimous choice for the Best Three-Year-Old Colt award.

Nine out of 10 award-recipients won decisively with at least 94 percent (268) of total votes (285). The award for Best Older Colt or Horse, however, was a tight contest between Tosen Jordan (JPN), who claimed the Tenno Sho (Autumn) (G1) in record time and finished second in the Japan Cup (G1), and Victoire Pisa (JPN), the first Japanese thoroughbred to capture the Dubai World Cup (G1), the selection eventually going to Victoire Pisa by 25 votes for his second JRA Award after being named Best Three-Year-Old Colt in 2010. Buena Vista (JPN) capped off a highly decorated career with 277 votes for Best Older Filly or Mare, leaving her with no less than five JRA Awards, including at least one each in four straight seasons.

Orfevre and trainer
Yasutoshi Ikee (horse’s left)
Victoire Pisa and trainer
Katsuhiko Sumii (far left, grey suit)
Buena Vista and jockey
Yasunari Iwata

Katsuhiko Sumii, a familiar face among recent JRA Award winners, captured his first Best Trainer (Races Won) and third-consecutive Best Trainer (Training Technique). Yasutoshi Ikee set an all-time JRA record for single-season earnings, automatically giving him Best Trainer (Money Earned). Noriyuki Hori was named Best Trainer (Winning Average), becoming just the second Kanto-based (Miho Training Center) trainer, besides Kazuo Fujisawa, to claim this trainer's award over the past 21 years.

Yasunari Iwata scored his first Best Jockey (Races Won), the third straight year this title has gone to a former National Association of Racing (NAR) rider, and he also captured Best Jockey (Money Earned) for the second time. Yuichi Fukunaga concluded the 2011 season with the most JRA wins to claim Best Jockey (Winning Average), his first JRA Award in 15 years since being named Best Jockey (Newcomer). No jockey met the minimum standard of 10 wins for Best Steeplechase Jockey or 30 wins for Best Jockey (Newcomer), so these awards were not presented this year.

The Equine Culture Award, which recognizes noteworthy achievements and contributions to Japanese equine culture, was presented to Vanished Jockey ExtraordinaireThe Miracle of Chokichi Maeda, Youngest Derby Winner, a biographical story by Akihiro Shimada about the short but glorious career of a gifted young jockey who was lost to war more than 60 years ago.

Note: All information, including ages and race performances, are as of December 31, 2011, unless otherwise indicated. Wins and earnings figures include National Association of Racing and overseas starts designated by the JRA for consideration in award voting.


Orfevre (JPN)

Orfevre (JPN)

3-year-old, colt, chestnut
Sire: Stay Gold
Dam: Oriental Art
Sire of Dam: Mejiro McQueen
Owner: Sunday Racing Co., Ltd.
Breeder: Shadai Corporation Inc.
Trainer: Yasutoshi Ikee
Jockey: Kenichi Ikezoe
Wins / Starts in 2011: 6 / 8
Career Wins / Starts: 7 / 11
Earnings in 2011: ¥ 805,524,000
Career Earnings: ¥ 818,978,000
Principal Wins in 2011: Arima Kinen (G1), Kikuka Sho (Japanese St. Leger, G1),
Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby, G1),
Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas, G1),
Kobe Shimbun Hai (G2), Spring Stakes (G2)
Video (Orfevre):
Arima Kinen (The Grand Prix) (G1 - English) HIGH LOW
Kikuka Sho (Japanese St. Leger) (G1 - English) HIGH LOW
Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby) (G1 - English) HIGH LOW
Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas) (G1 - English) HIGH LOW
Kobe Shimbun Hai (G2) HIGH LOW
Spring Stakes (G2) HIGH LOW

Orfevre was just one vote shy of a unanimous selection as Horse of the Year, but still collected all 285 votes for Best Three-Year-Old Colt. The Stay Gold (JPN, by Sunday Silence) colt became Japan's seventh Triple Crown winner, following Deep Impact (JPN) (2005), Narita Brian (JPN) (1994), Symboli Rudolf (JPN) (1984), Mr. C.B. (JPN) (1983), Shinzan (JPN) (1964) and Saint Lite (JPN) (1941). He also captured the Arima Kinen against well-recognized older G1 winners to match Narita Brian and Symboli Rudolf as the only Triple Crown winners to capture the Arima Kinen in the same season. Furthermore, the chestnut became the JRA's all-time highest-earning three-year-old in a single season. In addition, this was owner Sunday Racing Co., Ltd.'s second consecutive year to boast the Horse of the Year award, following Buena Vista (JPN) in 2010.

After one win out of three starts as a two-year-old, Orfevre quickly rose to stardom from the beginning of his three-year-old campaign. His impressive turn of speed placed him within the money in his first two starts before the talented colt claimed the first of six consecutive wins. He was a dominant winner in all three of his Three-Year-Old Classics, clearing the wire in margins of three lengths, 1-3/4 lengths and 2-1/2 lengths in the Satsuki Sho (G1), the Tokyo Yushun (G1) and the Kikuka Sho (G1), respectively. He also reaffirmed his star qualities against the season's top runners in the Arima Kinen (G1).

Trained by Yasutoshi Ikee, who collected four of his five G1 victories during the year, the exceptional colt will head overseas in his four-year-old campaign to test his talent at the international level.



Alfredo (JPN)

Alfredo (JPN)

2-year-old, colt, bay
Sire: Symboli Kris S
Dam: Princess Camellia
Sire of Dam: Sunday Silence
Owner: U. Carrot Farm
Breeder: Northern Farm
Trainer: Takahisa Tezuka
Jockey: Craig Williams
Wins / Starts in 2011: 3 / 3
Earnings in 2011: ¥ 88,414,000
Principal Wins in 2011 Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes (G1)
Video (Alfredo):
Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes (G1 - English) HIGH LOW

Alfredo concluded his debut season with a perfect 3 for 3 score, including a victory in the season's two-year-old championship G1, the one-mile Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes, which he won in a record-tying 1:33.4 to match Meiner Recolte (JPN) in 2004.

Alfredo was the first turf G1 winner for sire Symboli Kris S (USA, by Kris S.), Horse of the Year in both 2002 and 2003 and sire of dirt G1 victor Success Brocken (JPN), who won the 2009 February Stakes (G1, dirt, 1,600m).

U. Carrot Farm, the proud owner of the two-year-old champion, as well the season's Best Three-Year-Old Filly, Aventura (JPN), has claimed numerous G1 titles both in Japan and overseas. Past JRA Award winners owned by the jointly owned organization include 2005 Best Sprinter or Miler Hat Trick (JPN), 2005 Best Three-Year-Old Filly Cesario (JPN), 2006 Best Dirt Horse Alondite (JPN) and 2007 Best Two-Year-Old Filly Tall Poppy (JPN).

Alfredo's three-year-old campaign in 2012 will be targeted at the Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas, G1, turf, 2,000m), beginning with the Spring Stakes (G2, turf, 1,800m) in March.



Joie de Vivre (JPN)

Joie de Vivre (JPN)

2-year-old, filly, bay
Sire: Deep Impact
Dam: Biwa Heidi
Sire of Dam: Caerleon
Owner: Sunday Racing Co.,Ltd.
Breeder: Northern Racing
Trainer: Hiroyoshi Matsuda
Jockey: Yuichi Fukunaga
Wins / Starts in 2011: 2 / 2
Earnings in 2011: ¥ 73,372,000
Principal Wins in 2011 Hanshin Juvenile Fillies (G1)
Video (Joie de Vivre):
Hanshin Juvenile Fillies (G1 - English) HIGH LOW

Joie de Vivre, who automatically claimed the season's Best Two-Year-Old Filly title by winning the Hanshin Juvenile Fillies (G1), set a JRA record with a G1 victory within the shortest period since entering racing.

Making her debut in November, just a month before her stirring G1 victory, the Deep Impact (JPN, by Sunday Silence) filly was already touted as the three-quarter sister to multiple-G1 winner Buena Vista (JPN), as well as being conditioned by the same trainer, Hiroyoshi Matsuda. Following an impressive start, a win by 1-1/2 lengths, she earned a ticket to run in the Hanshin Juvenile Fillies (G1) in a selection by draw.

Sent to post the fourth favorite despite the presence of other fillies that had already won or placed in previous G3 starts, Joie de Vivre gave a very professional performance, settling in mid-division under Yuichi Fukunaga from an outside draw and then responding well with a powerful kick at the stretch. She timed the fastest of the field over the final three furlongs, winning by a comfortable 2-1/2-length margin to follow in the footsteps of both her famous sister and her dam, Biwa Heidi (JPN), who also won the championship title in 1995.

Her kick-off start in 2012 will be the Tulip Sho (G3, turf, 1,600m) in March, before her next G1 target, the Oka Sho (Japanese 1000 Guineas, G1, turf, 1,600m), in April.



Aventura (JPN)

Aventura (JPN)

3-year-old, filly, bay
Sire: Jungle Pocket
Dam: Admire Sunday
Sire of Dam: Sunday Silence
Owner: U. Carrot Farm
Breeder: Northern Farm
Trainer: Katsuhiko Sumii
Jockey: Yasunari Iwata
Wins / Starts in 2011: 3 / 4
Career Wins / Starts: 4 / 7
Earnings in 2011: ¥ 186,406,000
Career Earnings: ¥ 216,348,000
Principal Wins in 2011 Shuka Sho (G1),
Queen Stakes (G3)
Video (Aventura):
Shuka Sho (G1 - English) HIGH LOW
Queen Stakes (G3) HIGH LOW

Aventura collected a dominating 268 votes for Best Three-Year-Old Filly of 2011 with four outstanding starts. While recovering from a fracture in the first half of her three-year-old campaign, she was forced to miss the three-year-old Fillies' Classics Oka Sho (Japanese 1000 Guineas, G1, turf, 1,600m) and Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks, G1, turf 2,400m). Once in action, however, she won three and finished second in four starts, including a victory in the Shuka Sho, the third G1 event reserved for three-year-old fillies. Her runner-up effort in the Queen Elizabeth II Commemorative Cup (G1) was against older G1 mares, including 2010 European Champion Three-Year-Old Filly Snow Fairy (IRE), who successfully defended her title by a neck.

Trained by internationally recognized Katsuhiko Sumii, who has continued to produce remarkable results both in Japan and overseas, Aventura broke her maiden in her debut start, then finished a respectable fourth from a delayed start in the 2010 Hanshin Juvenile Fillies (G1, turf, 1,600m) after a runner-up effort in the Sapporo Nisai Stakes (G3, turf, 1,800m).

Following the long break due to the fracture in her right foreleg, the Jungle Pocket (JPN, by Tony Bin) filly promptly won her comeback start in the end of July, then captured the Queen Stakes (G3). Her G1 triumph, just 0.1 seconds short of the Shuka Sho record, came against three-year-old rivals that had claimed the classic titles earlier in the season. Her competence against older mares in the Queen Elizabeth II Commemorative Cup secured her position as the champion three-year-old filly of the 2011 season.

An unfortunate leg injury again found shortly after her last race has put off racing for an undetermined period.



Victoire Pisa (JPN)

Victoire Pisa (JPN)

4-year-old, colt, dark bay or brown
Sire: Neo Universe
Dam: Whitewater Affair
Sire of Dam: Machiavellian
Owner: Yoshimi Ichikawa
Breeder: Shadai Farm
Trainer: Katsuhiko Sumii
Jockey: Mirco Demuro
Wins / Starts in 2011: 2 / 4
Career Wins / Starts: 8 / 15
Earnings in 2011: ¥ 552,742,800
Career Earnings: ¥ 1,085,040,500
Principal Wins in 2011 Dubai World Cup (G1), Nakayama Kinen (G2)
Video (Aventura):
Nakayama Kinen (G2) HIGH LOW

Victoire Pisa claimed the Best Older Colt or Horse title with 129 votes, 25 more than Tosen Jordan (JPN), who himself had a record-breaking victory in the Tenno Sho (Autumn) (G1, turf, 2,000m). Although unable to make an impression in two G1 starts after returning from overseas, Victoire Pisa achieved an historic victory in Dubai's richest G1 flat-racing event, the Dubai World Cup, a win that had an especially great impact in Japan by occurring in the aftermath of the Great Eastern Earthquake. This accomplishment, together with a G2 victory in the Nakayama Kinen prior to departing from Japan, were the decisive factors in his being presented a JRA award for the second year in a row.

Trained by Katsuhiko Sumii, an internationally recognized trainer with G1 victories in the U.S., U.A.E., Australia and Hong Kong, Victoire Pisa as a two-year-old posted three wins and a second out of four starts, including a grade-race victory in the Radio Nikkei Hai Nisai Stakes (turf, 2,000m). Eyeing international success in his three-year-old season, the Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas, G1, turf, 2,000m) winner headed to France after finishing third in the Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby, G1, turf, 2,400m). Running in the 2010 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (G1, turf, 2,400m), he exhibited an impressive turn of foot despite meeting traffic entering the stretch and finished seventh. His competence was demonstrated in his next start back home in the 2010 Japan Cup (G1), when he finished a close third in a field of older G1 winners and eight runners from abroad. He then confirmed his superiority in the Arima Kinen (G1), holding off Horse of the Year Buena Vista (JPN) while defeating a very high-quality field of proven G1 winners for his second G1 title, helping him to secure the 2010 JRA Award for Best Three-Year-Old Colt.

His four-year-old season was programmed for international competition, beginning with Dubai in March from an easy win in the Nakayama Kinen in February. His historic feat in Dubai brought on high expectations for intended starts in Hong Kong and Europe, but he was forced to cancel his remaining overseas challenges due to minor but repeated problems with his hind legs.

The Neo Universe (JPN, by Sunday Silence) colt has retired to stud, having concluded his racing career with eight wins, a second and two thirds out of 15 starts.



Buena Vista (JPN)

Buena Vista (JPN)

5-year-old, mare, dark bay or brown
Sire: Special Week
Dam: Biwa Heidi
Sire of Dam: Caerleon
Owner: Sunday Racing Co., Ltd.
Breeder: Northern Racing
Trainer: Hiroyoshi Matsuda
Jockey: Yasunari Iwata
Wins / Starts in 2011: 1 / 6
Career Wins / Starts: 9 / 23
Earnings in 2011: ¥ 364,520,000
Career Earnings: ¥ 1,478,869,700
Principal Wins in 2011 Japan Cup (G1)
Video (Buena Vista):
Japan Cup (G1 - English) HIGH LOW

Buena Vista sealed her status as the greatest mare in JRA history by claiming her sixth G1 title in the 2011 Japan Cup (G1) while boosting her career earnings to 1,478,869,700 yen, trailing only the legendary horses T. M. Opera O (JPN) and Deep Impact (JPN).

While her amazing career record of 9-8-3 out of 23 starts speaks for itself, it should come as no surprise that the 2010 Horse of the Year has been first pick in all of her starts in Japan, except for second choice in her last two starts. She has not failed to claim a JRA Award in any year since her debut in 2008, including Horse of the Year and Best Older Filly or Mare in 2010.

After breaking her maiden in her second start of 2008, Buena Vista promptly landed her first G1 win in the Hanshin Juvenile Fillies (turf, 1,600m), and then won both the Oka Sho (Japanese 1000 Guineas, turf, 1,600m) and the Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks, turf, 2,400m) during her three-year-old campaign. Her competence against older and mixed fields at the G1 level was confirmed the same year in the 2009 Arima Kinen (G1), when she finished second a half-length behind winner Dream Journey (JPN) and four lengths in front of the rest.

The Special Week (JPN, by Sunday Silence) filly decorated her 2010 campaign with one G2 and two G1 titles, plus a runner-up effort in her first overseas campaign in the Dubai Sheema Classic (G1, turf, 2,410m). She also had second-place finishes in three of Japan's toughest G1 events, but was distanced from the winner's circle when she was demoted from first to second in the 2010 Japan Cup. Although winless during her 2011 campaign until her Japan Cup victory in November, she continued to turn in strong performances even in defeat.

Unarguably Japan's best mare ever, expectations for her future offspring will continue for years to come.



Curren Chan (JPN)

Curren Chan (JPN)

4-year-old, filly, gray
Sire: Kurofune
Dam: Spring Ticket
Sire of Dam: Tony Bin
Owner: Takashi Suzuki
Breeder: Shadai Farm
Trainer: Takayuki Yasuda
Jockey: Kenichi Ikezoe
Wins / Starts in 2011: 5 / 7
Career Wins / Starts: 8 / 13
Earnings in 2011: ¥ 261,049,900
Career Earnings: ¥ 302,007,900
Principal Wins in 2011 Sprinters Stakes (G1),
Hanshin Himba Stakes (G2),
Keeneland Cup (G3),
Hakodate Sprint Stakes (G3)
Video (Curren Chan):
Sprinters Stakes (G1 - English) HIGH LOW
Hanshin Himba Stakes (G2) HIGH LOW
Keeneland Cup (G3) HIGH LOW
Hakodate Sprint Stakes (G3) HIGH LOW

Curren Chan received an overwhelming 270 votes for Best Sprinter or Miler after posting five consecutive wins out of seven starts, four of which were grade-race titles. These wins included her first G1 victory in the Sprinters Stakes (G1) against highly rated Singapore raider Rocket Man (AUS) and Lucky Nine (IRE) from Hong Kong.

Trained by Takayuki Yasuda, who has also enjoyed success with Best Dirt Horse Transcend (JPN), the Kurofune (USA, by French Deputy) filly was second in her only start as a two-year-old, broke her maiden on dirt in her first start of the following year and marked another win, this time on turf, three weeks later.

hereafter, the gray filly's career began to take off when she capped off her three-year-old season with a dominating 2-1/2-length victory, giving her a 3-1-0 record out of five starts in 2010. She kicked off her four-year-old campaign with a third place finish in the Fushimi Stakes to stretch her winning streak to five. Curren Chan concluded her 2011 season by finishing fifth in her first overseas challenge, the Hong Kong Sprint (G1) in December. She will come back in 2012 for her next G1 target, the Takamatsunomiya Kinen (turf, 1,200m), in March.



Transcend (JPN)

Transcend (JPN)

5-Year-Old, Bay, Horse
Sire: Wild Rush
Dam: Cinema Scope
Sire of Dam: Tony Bin
Owner: Koji Maeda
Breeder: North Hills Management
Trainer: Takayuki Yasuda
Jockey: Shinji Fujita
Wins / Starts in 2011: 3/5
Career Wins / Starts: 10 / 19
Earnings in 2011: ¥ 469,914,900
Career Earnings: ¥ 780,144,900
Principal Wins in 2011 Japan Cup Dirt (G1),
Mile Championship Nambu Hai (Listed),
February Stakes (G1)
Video (Transcend):
Japan Cup Dirt (G1 - English) HIGH LOW
Mile Championship Nambu Hai (Listed) HIGH LOW
February Stakes (G1 - English) HIGH LOW

Transcend captured the Japan Cup Dirt (G1) for the second consecutive year and added two other G1 titles, the February Stakes and the Mile Championship Nambu Hai. Two runner-up efforts included a one-two Japan finish together with Victoire Pisa (JPN) in the 2011 Dubai World Cup (G1).

Recognized for his exceptional speed even before his debut, the son of Wild Rush (USA, by Wild Again) broke his maiden as a three-year-old in his second start—his first on dirt after an unsuccessful start on turf. After registering 4-1-0 in eight starts that year, his four-year-old season took off with an impressive win in the Aldebaran Stakes (dirt, 1,900m), in which he renewed the record by an impressive 1.2 seconds. Coming off a victory in the Miyako Stakes (G3, dirt, 1,800m), he claimed his first G1 victory in the 2010 Japan Cup Dirt.

Together with jockey Shinji Fujita, who has partnered the bay through most of 2010 and all of his starts during 2011, Transcend kicked off his five-year-old campaign with another G1 victory in the February Stakes prior to his runner-up effort in Dubai. The only dirt runner to have claimed four dirt G1 titles on JRA tracks, he now aims to extend his record in 2012 when he is targeted to run in both the February Stakes and the Dubai World Cup.



Majesty Bio (JPN)

Majesty Bio (JPN)

4-year-old, colt, bay
Sire: Opera House
Dam: High Grade Bio
Sire of Dam: Hector Protector
Owner: Bio K.
Breeder: Bio Co., Ltd.
Trainer: Tsuyoshi Tanaka
Jockey: KoshiYamamoto
Wins / Starts in 2011: 4 / 9*
Career Wins / Starts: 5 / 22 (4 / 9*)
Earnings in 2011: ¥ 177,696,000*
Career Earnings: ¥ 188,596,000 (¥ 177,696,000*)
Principal Wins in 2011 Nakayama Daishogai (J-G1) ,
Tokyo High-Jump (J-G2),
Tokyo Jump Stakes (J-G3)

*steeplechases only
Video (Majesty Bio):
Nakayama Daishogai (J-G1) HIGH LOW
Tokyo High-Jump (J-G2) HIGH LOW
Tokyo Jump Stakes (J-G3) HIGH LOW

Majesty Bio won his first J.G1 challenge in the Nakayama Daishogai to become the first four-year-old colt since Maruka Rascal (JPN) in 2006 to capture the title. Adding two other grade-race victories over obstacles in 2011, the Opera House (GB, by Sadler's Wells) colt proved consistent in registering 4-3-1 and a fourth out of nine starts.

Trained by Tsuyoshi Tanaka, who captured four Nakayama Daishogai titles as a jockey, Majesty Bio began his racing career on the flat as a two-year-old but registered just one win out of 13 starts. Tested over obstacles for the first time in April 2011, he finished fourth, was a neck second in his following outing and then registered his first victory in his third jump race. He landed his first grade-race title in the Tokyo Jump Stakes (J.G3) in June by a whopping four-length margin. Improving with every successive start, Majesty Bio marked another comfortable G2 victory in the Tokyo High-Jump and then came off a runner-up effort in the Illumination Jump Stakes with new partner Koshi Yamamoto, who guided the bay jumper to his first J.G1 victory.



Katsuhiko Sumii

Katsuhiko Sumii
Age: 47 (March 28, 1964)
License Issued: 2000
First Race: March 11, 2001 (Setono McQueen; 5th)
First Win: March 24, 2001 (Sky and Ryu)
Principal Wins in 2011: Dubai World Cup (G1, Victoire Pisa)
Shuka Sho (G1, Aventura)
Kinko Sho (G2, Rulership)
Wins / Starts in 2011: 60 / 348
Winning Average in 2011: 0.1724
Career Wins / Starts: 382 / 2,791
Earnings in 2011: ¥ 1,693,653,000

Katsuhiko Sumii took home two JRA Awards in a spectacular 2011 season: Best Trainer (Races Won) and Best Trainer (Training Technique). It was the seventh title in his illustrious career, along with Money Earned three times ('05, '08 and '10) and Training Technique twice ('09 and '10), but his first Races Won.

Sumii's outstanding training methods have already been seen in many successful runners, including Delta Blues ('04 Best Horse by Home-Bred Sire), Cesario ('05 Best Three-Year-Old Filly, Best Horse by Home-Bred Sire), Hat Trick ('05 Best Sprinter or Miler), Kane Hekili ('05 Best Dirt Horse, '08 Best Dirt Horse), Vodka ('06 Best Two-Year-Old Filly, '07 Special Award, '08 Horse of the Year, Best Older Filly or Mare, '09 Horse of the Year, Best Older Filly or Mare), Tall Poppy ('07 Best Two-Year-Old Filly), Victoire Pisa ('10 Best Three-Year-Old Colt, '11 Best Older Colt or Horse) and Aventura ('11 Best Three-Year-Old Filly). The 27-time G1 winner, including four overseas and five in NAR, now has added quantity to his resume while maintaining his quality status as the only JRA trainer with at least one G1 in eight consecutive seasons.

Saddling no less than 21 winners in his training debut in 2001, Sumii saw his wins steadily rise to around 30 by 2004. Between 2008 and 2010, his annual victories well exceeded 40 to rank him within the top four each year, but his 60 wins in 2011 established him as the champion by a comfortable margin.

Sumii worked for three years on a breeding farm in Hokkaido before becoming an assistant trainer for Kentaro Nakao's yard in 1986. He later worked for Kunihide Matsuda and then set up his own stable after acquiring a training license in 2000.

He saddled his first grade-race winner in 2002 in the Tokyo Sports Hai Nisai Stakes (G3, Blue Eleven), and then Delta Blues gave him his first G1 and classic title in the 2004 Kikuka Sho (Japanese St. Leger).

Sumii, whose career grade-race titles had soared by the end of 2005, became known internationally as the first Japanese trainer to saddle a Japanese bred/trained G1 winner in the U.S. with Cesario (American Oaks). He then captured the 2005 Hong Kong Mile (G1) with Hat Trick and made more headlines by taking the first two placings in the 2006 Melbourne Cup (G1) with Delta Blues and Pop Rock, respectively. Victoire Pisa, who contributed the most to Sumii's success in 2010 with G1 victories in both the Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas) and the Arima Kinen, also gave him his fourth international G1 title, the Dubai World Cup in March 2011.



Noriyuki Hori

Noriyuki Hori
Age: 44 (November 9, 1967)
License Issued: 2002
First Race: March 15, 2003 (Elegant Regalo; 12th)
First Win: May 17, 2003 (Mr Tadahiro)
Principal Wins in 2011: Yasuda Kinen (G1, Real Impact)
Takamatsunomiya Kinen (G1, Kinshasa no Kiseki)
Mainichi Okan (G2, Dark Shadow)
Wins / Starts in 2011: 43 / 214
Winning Average in 2011: 0.2009
Career Wins / Starts: 229 / 1,813
Earnings in 2011: ¥ 1,153,874,000

Noriyuki Hori won his first JRA Award in 2011 with an outstanding winning average of 0.2009 based on 43 wins out of 214 starts. His major wins included the Takamatsunomiya Kinen (G1) with Kinshasa no Kiseki, the Yasuda Kinen (G1) with Real Impact and other grade-race victories with Dark Shadow [Mainichi Okan (G2) and Epsom Cup (G3)] and Strong Return [Keio Hai Spring Cup (G2)]. Hori is the only trainer from Miho Training Center-based (eastern Japan) to have won a JRA Award in the past 21 years besides Kazuo Fujisawa, who has amassed 37 titles between 1991 and 2009.

Hori began working as a groom at Tomizo Suwa's stable, then became assistant trainer under Yoshitaka Ninomiya, who was best known for saddling multiple G1 winners El Condor Pasa and Nakayama Festa in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in 1999 and 2010, respectively. Hori opened his own yard in 2003.

His first win came in his 23rd start and he captured his first grade-race title in his fourth season when Venus Line won the 2006 Hakodate Sprint Stakes (G3). His best horse is no doubt the JRA Award winner for Best Sprinter or Miler of 2010, Kinshasa no Kiseki, with whom Hori has won seven graded stakes, including Takamatsunomiya Kinen titles in 2010 and 2011. His win total began to increase in 2009 when he posted 31, ranking eighth in eastern Japan (Miho Training Center) and 22nd in the JRA national rankings. His big break came in 2010, when he was selected Best Trainer (Training Technique) in eastern Japan and was 12th in the national ranking with 36 wins. In the same year, he won his first G1 title with Kinshasa no Kiseki and also saddled Jaguar Mail to victory in the Tenno Sho (Spring) (G1), claiming seven grade-race wins for the year.

Along with other grade-race victories, which now total 21 in nine seasons, Hori posted 43 wins in 2011 to earn his second consecutive award for best technique in eastern Japan. He was second in wins in eastern Japan, which boosted him to sixth in the JRA national rankings.



Yasutoshi Ikee

Yasutoshi Ikee
Age: 43 (January 13, 1969)
License Issued: 2003
First Race: March 20, 2004 (Sonic Surpass; 1st)
First Win: March 20, 2004 (Sonic Surpass)
Principal Wins in 2011: Arima Kinen (G1, Orfevre)
Tenno Sho (Autumn) (G1, Tosen Jordan)
Kikuka Sho (Japanese St. Leger, G1, Orfevre)
Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby, G1, Orfevre)
Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas, G1, Orfevre)
Wins / Starts in 2011: 50 / 305
Winning Average in 2011: 0.1639
Career Wins / Starts: 283 / 1,765
Earnings in 2011: ¥ 2,433,946,500

Yasutoshi Ikee enjoyed his best season yet in 2011, registering 11 grade-race wins along the way to achieving annual earnings of 2,433,946,500 yen to break Kazuo Fujisawa's record of 2,316,998,000 yen in 2004. The season's Triple Crown winner, Orfevre, who also captured the Arima Kinen (G1) in December, contributed to four of Ikee's five G1 titles—the other coming with Tosen Jordan in the Tenno Sho (Autumn). Ikee also tied the record for most G1 wins in a season, joining trainer Ichizo Iwamoto in 2000.

Ikee established himself as a prominent trainer in a short period of time since acquiring his trainer's license in 2003. After earning his first trainer's title, Winning Average, in 2006, Yasutoshi Ikee rose to the top of the national standings with 51 wins in 2008 to claim the JRA Award for Races Won. In the same year, he also became the youngest trainer to be honored for Training Technique. He landed his second title for Winning Average in 2010, so he now lists all four trainer's awards on his resume.

The son of Yasuo Ikee, a Triple Crown trainer with Deep Impact, Yasutoshi graduated from a six-month training course in stable management at the JRA Horse Racing School and then began as a groom and later assistant trainer for Kuniichi Asami's yard. He worked under his father's stable before learning the art of training in England and the U.S. under top trainers Sir Michael Stoute and Neil Drysdale, respectively. With experience abroad, he played a major role as assistant trainer in his father's overseas endeavors with To the Victory, who finished second in the Dubai World Cup (G1), and Stay Gold, who won both the Hong Kong Vase (G1) and the Dubai Sheema Classic (G2) in 2001.

Although he opened his own yard in 2004, he supported his father when Deep Impact traveled to France, and he took his own Picaresque Coat along to run in the Prix Daniel Wildenstein (G2), finishing second. He saddled his own grade-one winner in 2006—that year's JRA Best Two-Year-Old Colt, Dream Journey, whose sire Stay Gold was a favorite ride during his assistant trainer days. Dream Journey contributed to many of Ikee's grade-race wins while claiming another JRA Award himself (Best Older Colt or Horse) in 2009. Orfevre has done more than take the place of his full brother Dream Journey, who retired in June 2011, and Tosen Jordan, another major product of Ikee's skillful training, has claimed four grade-race titles since 2010, including a record-breaking Tenno Sho (Autumn) (G1) victory in 2011.



Yasunari Iwata

Yasunari Iwata
Age: 37 (March 12, 1974)
License Issued: 2006*
First Race: November 7, 1999 (Ishiyaku Monde; 5th)
First Win: September 16, 2000 (Bamboo Utahime)
Principal Wins in 2011: Japan Cup (G1, Buena Vista)
Shuka Sho (G1, Aventura)
Yayoi Sho (G2, Sadamu Patek)
Wins / Starts in 2011: 138 / 914
Winning Average in 2011: 0.151
Career Wins / Starts: 911 / 6,540
Earnings in 2011: ¥ 3,134,279,000

*Iwata rode in NAR from 1991 prior to acquiring his JRA jockey's license in 2006.

Yasunari Iwata, now in his sixth season as a JRA-affiliated jockey, registered 138 wins to claim two of three JRA Awards reserved for the most outstanding jockeys of the season, Best Jockey (Races Won) and Best Jockey (Money Earned). He also claimed the title for Money Won in 2008. His achievements during 2011 include six JRA grade-race titles, with Buena Vista [Japan Cup (G1)], Aventura [Shuka Sho (G1)], Sadamu Patek [Yayoi Sho (G2)], Deep Brillante [Tokyo Sports Hai Nisai Stakes (G3)], Trend Hunter (Flower Cup (G3)] and Henny Hound [Falcon Stakes (G3]. He also registered a number of titles in NAR starts and celebrated his 800th JRA win in October.

Iwata started his career in 1991 as an NAR jockey and quickly rose to the top at Sonoda Racecourse in Hyogo Prefecture, consistently registering 200 wins each year after capturing Hyogo's Triple Crown in 1996. He was champion jockey in the Hyogo district in 2000, 2002, 2004 and 2005, reaching his 3,000th career win in that final year. In JRA racing, he landed his first grade-race victory in the Centaur Stakes (G3) with Believe in 2002 and then became the first NAR jockey to capture a classic title in the Kikuka Sho (Japanese St. Leger, G1) with Delta Blues in 2004. He finally transferred his license to the JRA in 2006.

A victory in the Melbourne Cup (G1) with Delta Blues in his inaugural overseas campaign highlighted his first season in the JRA, along with nine grade-race wins back in Japan. In 2007 he marked another nine grade-race victories, including dominating performances in the Takarazuka Kinen (G1) and the Japan Cup (G1) with Admire Moon. His most prosperous year was in 2008, when he scored multiple grade races with gifted mounts such as Admire Jupiter and Vodka to secure Best Jockey (Money Earned) for the first time, putting a stop to legendary Yutaka Take's seven-year reign. He scored back-to-back wins in the 2009 and 2010 Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas, G1) with Unrivaled and Victoire Pisa, respectively.

Placing constantly among the top five jockeys since his JRA debut, except when he missed two months due to a fall in 2010, he concluded the season in 11th place with 82 JRA wins.



Yuichi Fukunaga

Yuichi Fukunaga
Age: 35 (December 9, 1976)
License Issued: 1996
First Race: March 2, 1999 (Marubutsu Bravest; 1st)
First Win: March 2, 1999 (Marubutsu Bravest)
Principal Wins in 2011: Hanshin Juvenile Fillies (G1, Joie de Vivre)
Mainichi Okan (G2, Dark Shadow)
Sapporo Kinen (G2, Tosen Jordan)
Wins / Starts in 2011: 135 / 853
Winning Average in 2011: 0.1583
Career Wins / Starts: 1,399 / 11,871
Earnings in 2011: ¥ 2,789,845,000

Yuichi Fukunaga won his first JRA Award since being named Best Jockey (Newcomer) in 1996. While registering the most number of annual wins in JRA races, he was three short of Yasunari Iwata's 138 wins including designated NAR races, but nevertheless was Best Jockey (Winning Average) with a strike rate of 0.1583. Among his 13 grade-race titles was his second consecutive G1 title in the Hanshin Juvenile Fillies with Joie de Vivre, following a 2010 win with Reve d'Essor. Along with celebrating his 1,300th JRA career win in September, Fukunaga became the Summer Jockeys Series champion by a wide margin, winning the Sapporo Kinen (G2) with Tosen Jordan, the Ibis Summer Dash (G3) with A Shin Virgo and the Radio Nikkei Sho (G3) with Frere Jacques, and collecting additional points with two seconds and a third in three other designated starts.

Following in the footsteps of his father, Yoichi Fukunaga, a leading jockey between 1970 and 1978 before a serious fall ended his riding career, he made an impressive debut in 1996 with back-to-back wins in his first two starts and went on to become JRA Best Jockey (Newcomer) with 56 wins. His first grade-race victory came the following year with Silk Phoenix in the Empress Hai at Kawasaki (NAR), then he won his first JRA grade race with King Halo in the Tokyo Sports Hai Sansai Stakes (G3). After capturing his first G1 win with Primo Ordine in the 1999 Oka Sho (Japanese 1000 Guineas), he sustained a career-threatening injury in a fall a week later, but he made a sensational comeback to capture the Asahi Hai Sansai Stakes (G1) with his best partner, Eishin Preston. The pair proceeded to claim four other grade-race titles in 2000 and 2001, even demonstrating their remarkable talent abroad by capturing the 2001 Hong Kong Mile (G1) and Queen Elizabeth II Cup (G1) titles in both 2002 and 2003.

His career was highlighted in 2005 when he grabbed five G1 titles among 17 grade-race wins in Japan and claimed the American Oaks Invitational Stakes (G1) aboard Cesario, the first Japanese bred and trained horse to capture a U.S. G1 title. He also reached the 100th mark in annual wins (JRA) for the first time that year.

His 87 grade-race wins include 15 G1 victories in JRA. Besides four G1 triumphs overseas, he scored a G1 title in the JBC Sprint with Sterling Rose in 2002 and has several NAR grade-race victories.



The JRA Equine Culture Award recognizes the noteworthy achievements and contributions to Japanese equine culture. Nominations for the 2011 award included cultural events and publications relating to horses that were published, broadcasted or held between November 2010 and October 2011. Out of four finalists selected in December last year, the 2011 award was presented to “Vanished Jockey Extraordinaire – The Miracle of Chokichi Maeda, Youngest Derby Winner,” written by Akihiro Shimada.

The Winner
“Vanished Jockey Extraordinaire – The Miracle of Chokichi Maeda, Youngest Derby Winner” unveils the life of Chokichi Maeda, a forgotten hero who rode filly Kurifuji to victory in the Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby) 64 years before Vodka became the next female runner to claim the title in 2007. Kurifuji was not the only one to go down in history that day, because Maeda also distinguished himself as the youngest jockey to claim the derby title at 20 years and three months. Yoshiyasu Tajima is well known as having become the youngest derby winner at 23 years and seven months in 1971, but this record is based on JRA racing since 1954. Maeda's record-breaking feat in 1943 was quickly forgotten, lost with the record books in the turmoil of World War II, especially when the young rider never returned from war after being drafted into military service near the last year of the war. Author Akihiro Shimada, however, uncovered the story after five years of laborious research, producing an intriguing biography about a gifted young jockey whose short but glorious career has finally been restored to its proper place in the limelight of great achievements.

The Author
Sportswriter, columnist and novelist Akihiro Shimada, born in 1964, entered Waseda University intending to major in political science and economics. While doing research for a television program, however, he decided to drop out from university and pursue a career as a writer. He eventually became a writer for TV, radio and print. In 1990, the Hokkaido native wrote articles for sports magazine “Number” and horse racing magazine “Keiba no Tatsujin” while accompanying jockey Yutaka Take on his overseas stint in the United States. He now has a regular column in the weekly racing magazine “Keiba Book.” His novel “Spring at Shimofusa Goryo Bokujo” was awarded the Sakigake Literature Encouragement Prize in 2009.


Results of the 2011 JRA Awards (Total Votes: 285)

Horse of the Year
Place Horse Votes
1 Orfevre (JPN) 284
2 Victoire Pisa (JPN) 1
Total   285
  Best Older Colt or Horse
Place Horse Votes
1 Victoire Pisa (JPN) 129
2 Tosen Jordan (JPN) 104
3 Transcend (JPN) 41
4 Earnestly (JPN) 1
4 Smart Falcon (JPN) 1
4 Hiruno d’Amour (JPN) 1
  None 8
Total   285

Best Two-Year-Old Colt
Place Horse Votes
1 Alfredo (JPN) 279
2 Adam’s Peak (JPN) 3
3 Deep Brillante (JPN) 2
4 Obruchev (USA) 1
Total   285
Best Older Filly or Mare
Place Horse Votes
1 Buena Vista (JPN) 277
2 Curren Chan (JPN) 4
3 Apapane (JPN) 1
3 Snow Fairy (IRE) 1
  None 2
Total   285

Best Two-Year-Old Filly
Place Horse Votes
1 Joie de Vivre (JPN) 283
2 I’m Yours (JPN) 2
Total   285
Best Sprinter or Miler
Place Horse Votes
1 Curren Chan (JPN) 270
2 Eishin Apollon (USA) 4
3 Kinshasa no Kiseki (AUS) 3
4 Real Impact (JPN) 2
4 Transcend (JPN) 2
  None 4
Total   285

Best Three-Year-Old Colt
Place Horse Votes
1 Orfevre (JPN) 285
Total   285
Best Dirt Horse
Place Horse Votes
1 Transcend (JPN) 271
2 Smart Falcon (JPN) 13
  None 1
Total   285

Best Three-Year-Old Filly
Place Horse Votes
1 Aventura (JPN) 268
2 Marcellina (JPN) 6
3 Erin Court (JPN) 3
3 Whale Capture (JPN) 3
  None 5
Total   285
Best Steeplechase Horse
Place Horse Votes
1 Majesty Bio (JPN) 274
2 Meiner Neos (JPN) 6
  None 5
Total   285