2012 JRA Awards


GENTILDONNA BECOMES FIRST 3YO FILLY TO CLAIM HORSE OF THE YEAR TITLE

2012 JRA Award
■RACEHORSES ■TRAINERS & JOCKEYS ■JRA EQUINE CULTURE AWARD ■JRA EQUINE CULTURE AWARD – AWARD OF MERIT

The Japan Racing Association today will present its 2012 Horse of the Year title to Gentildonna, who turned in a stellar season as the first three-year-old filly to capture the Japan Cup and only the fourth filly in JRA history to sweep the Triple Crown for fillies. The annual JRA Awards, which will be handed out in a ceremony today, recognize horses, trainers, jockeys and thoroughbred-related individuals and organizations for accomplished performances or achievements in the 2012 season.

Gentildonna and jockey Yasunari Iwata
Gentildonna and jockey Yasunari Iwata

Gentildonna scored her historic victory in the Japan Cup against one of the toughest-ever fields, including Solemia and 2011 Horse of the Year Orfevre, who had recently taken first and second, respectively, in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. The Deep Impact filly, who dominated judging by receiving 256 out of 289 votes, is the first three-year-old filly to win the JRA's highest honor. She also was the unanimous pick for Best Three-Year-Old Filly.

Orfevre, with a sole G1 triumph in the Takarazuka Kinen after winning four G1 titles in the previous season, earned high marks for his runner-up effort in the Arc to collect 273 votes for Best Older Colt or Horse. Gold Ship, who claimed two of the season's three-year-old classics and bested a field of senior G1 runners in the Arima Kinen, was the unanimous pick for Best Three-Year-Old Colt. Best Sprinter or Miler Lord Kanaloa missed a unanimous selection by just six votes after claiming two sprint G1 titles, one each in Japan and Hong Kong.

This year's award-winning trainers included Katsuhiko Sumii (Races Won) and Yasutoshi Ikee (Money Earned), both repeat winners, and the twice-awarded Naosuke Sugai (Winning Average and Training Technique), who stood on the JRA Awards podium for the first time.

Among jockeys, Yasunari Iwata was presented two titles (Races Won and Money Earned), his second consecutive year to earn this distinction, on the strength of winning eight G1 titles in JRA, NAR and overseas racing. Norihiro Yokoyama claimed his second JRA Award (Winning Average) since 2010, while Shinya Kitazawa won his first Best Steeplechase Jockey title. No one was eligible for the Newcomer title, which requires at least 30 wins.

The Equine Culture Award, which recognizes noteworthy achievements and contributions to Japanese equine culture, was presented jointly to NHK Media Technology, Inc. and the Soma Nomaoi Executive Committee for their collaborative production of the film Giddy Up at the Soma-Nomaoi—Overcoming the Great East Japan Earthquake. The Equine Culture Award of Merit went to Hiroshi Hoketsu for his lifetime contributions to equine culture as a three-time Olympian rider. He was a show jumper in the 1964 Tokyo Games and more than 40 years later took part in Beijing 2008 and then, at age 71, in London 2012 as the Games' oldest competitor and Japan's oldest-ever Olympian.

Note: All information, including ages and race performances, are as of December 31, 2012, unless otherwise indicated.
Wins and earnings figures include National Association of Racing (NAR; local public racing) and overseas starts designated by the JRA for consideration in award voting.

HORSE OF THE YEAR and BEST THREE-YEAR-OLD COLT

Gentildonna (JPN)

Gentildonna (JPN)

Age (Date of Foaling) : 3 (February 20, 2009)
Sex / Color : Filly / Bay
Sire : Deep Impact
Dam (Sire of Dam) : Donna Blini (Bertolini)
Owner : Sunday Racing Co., Ltd.
Breeder : Northern Racing
Trainer : Sei Ishizaka
Season Record / Earnings : 7 starts, 6 wins / ¥ 681,738,000
Career Record / Earnings : 9 starts, 7 wins / ¥ 689,538,000
Principal Wins in 2012 : Japan Cup (G1), Shuka Sho (G1),
Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks, G1),
Oka Sho (Japanese 1000 Guineas, G1)
Video (Gentildonna):
Japan Cup (G1 - English) HIGH LOW
Shuka Sho (G1 - English) HIGH LOW
Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks, G1) (G1 - English) HIGH LOW
Oka Sho (Japanese 1000 Guineas, G1) (G1 - English) HIGH LOW

Gentildonna proved to be one of the most exceptional female runners in JRA history in 2012, accomplishing what no other three-year-old filly had before. While recent fillies or mares such as Vodka and Buena Vista represented themselves as great champions in their record-making achievements against powerful male G1 runners, the Deep Impact filly is the first three-year-old filly ever to claim the Japan Cup and only the fourth triple-crown filly in JRA history.

With a win and a second in two starts as a two-year-old, the bay filly kicked off to a good start in her three-year-old campaign, registering her first grade-race victory in a competition against male opponents in the Shinzan Kinen. Though a fever prior to the Tulip Sho affected her performance (fourth) in this G3 event, she bounced back in the Oka Sho (Japanese 1000 Guineas) to claim the first leg of the Triple Crown by 1/2 length. Some had argued that Deep Impact's various offspring had only proven themselves at the G1 level in the mile category, but Gentildonna demonstrated a terrific late charge from behind by covering the last three furlongs in 34.2 seconds to a five-length record-breaking victory in the 2,400-meter race. This was faster than the winning time of the Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby) held at the same racecourse and over the same distance a week later.

Following a four-month summer break, Gentildonna scored an easy win in her fall debut, the Rose Stakes, then lived up to expectations by claiming the last of the G1 events for three-year-old fillies, the Shuka Sho.

In the Japan Cup, her performance in beating the likes of Orfevre, who had made his talent known with a runner-up effort in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, and Rulership, a G1 winner in Hong Kong, has attracted much interest, including overseas. Expectations are high for the filly's four-year-old season, which could begin with her first overseas challenge in the Dubai Sheema Classic (G1, 2,410m).

Top

BEST TWO-YEAR-OLD COLT

Logotype (JPN)

Logotype (JPN)

Age (Date of Foaling) : 2 (March 10, 2010)
Sex / Color : Colt / Dark Bay or Brown
Sire : Lohengrin
Dam (Sire of Dam) : Stereotype (Sunday Silence)
Owner : Teruya Yoshida
Breeder : Shadai Farm
Trainer : Tsuyoshi Tanaka
Season Record / Earnings : 6 starts, 3 wins / ¥ 100,928,000
Principal Wins in 2012 : Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes (G1)
Video (Logotype):
Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes (G1 - English) PLAY

Logotype became this year's Best Two-Year-Old Colt after displaying a thrilling upset in the Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes. The Lohengrin colt began his racing career with a mediocre one win and a third in his first four starts after debuting in June. But his combination with Mirco Demuro proved a perfect match when they won the allowance Begonia Sho in late November, then the pair prevailed by a neck in a nail-biting finish in the following Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes, when challenged by undefeated race favorite, Codino, in this premier event for two-year-olds.

A homebred colt owned by Shadai's Teruya Yoshida, Logotype won his debut in late June. He finished fourth in his next start over 1,200 meters in the Hakodate Nisai Stakes, then fourth again in his second grade-race challeng e over 1,800 meters at Sapporo in September. But then Logotype excelled in his mile debut by marking a race-record 1:33.6 in the Begonia Sho. He was sired by Lohengrin, who was winless at the G1 level during his racing career but had a number of grade-race titles and proved useful over a mile with a runner-up effort in the Prix du Moulin de Longchamp (G1, 1,600m) in France and third-place finish in the Hong Kong Mile (G1, 1,600m) in 2003.

Like his sire, he quickly came out of the gate to join the leading group in the Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes, but still had to settle off the rails to avoid being boxed in by rivals moving up the outside before the third corner. Determined not to be outrun by Codino, Logotype responded to his jockey's urgings to charge along the steep uphill stretch and crossed the wire in a record-tying 1:33.4 over the mile distance.

Top

BEST TWO-YEAR-OLD FILLY

Robe Tissage (JPN)

Robe Tissage (JPN)

Age (Date of Foaling) : 2 (January 28, 2010)
Sex / Color : Filly / Black
Sire : War Emblem
Dam (Sire of Dam) : Petit Noire (Singspiel)
Owner : Silk Co. Ltd
Breeder : Northern Racing
Trainer : Naosuke Sugai
Season Record / Earnings : 3 starts, 2 wins / ¥ 84,470,000
Principal Wins in 2012 : Hanshin Juvenile Fillies (G1)
Video (Robe Tissage):
Hanshin Juvenile Fillies (G1 - English) PLAY

Robe Tissage was named the season's Best Two-Year-Old Filly upon winning the Hanshin Juvenile Fillies in December.

Trained by Naosuke Sugai, who is also known for saddling Gold Ship, winner of the Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas)-Kikuka Sho (Japanese St. Leger), Robe Tissage scored a comfortable win in her debut over 1,800 meters in July. She was then given a four-month break to build up her frame prior to her main target in the latter part of the season.

While defeated to second by three lengths in the Fantasy Stakes over 1,400 meters, her connections were impressed by her progress in qualifying for the championship G1 race in December.

In the Hanshin Juvenile Fillies, sent to post as the fifth pick and starting from stall one, the War Emblem filly was smartly positioned near the rails in mid-division and responded well when asked, powering along the uphill stretch to pin down the leader for a neck victory. She is the second G1 winner produced by War Emblem, following 2008 Shuka Sho winner Black Emblem.

Bred by Northern Racing, Robe Tissage is out of the Singspiel mare Petit Noire and is from the family of two-time JRA Award winner Victoire Pisa, who claimed the 2011 Dubai World Cup (G1, AW, 2,000m), and Asakusa Denen, who won the 2005 Yasuda Kinen (G1, 1,600m).

Her three-year-old campaign, targeted at the Triple Crown for fillies, will begin with the Tulip Sho (G3, 1,600m) in March, followed by her first G1 classic, the Oka Sho (Japanese 1000 Guineas, G1, 1,600m).

Top

BEST THREE-YEAR-OLD COLT

Gold Ship (JPN)

Gold Ship (JPN)

Age (Date of Foaling) : 3 (March 6, 2009)
Sex / Color : Colt / Gray
Sire : Stay Gold
Dam (Sire of Dam) : Point Flag (Mejiro McQueen)
Owner : Eiichi Kobayashi
Breeder : Eiichi Kobayashi
Trainer : Naosuke Sugai
Season Record / Earnings : 6 starts, 5 wins / ¥ 590,294,000
Career Record / Earnings : 10 starts, 7 wins / ¥ 639,789,000
Principal Wins in 2012 : Arima Kinen (G1), Kikuka Sho (Japanese St. Leger, G1),
Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas, G1)
Video (Gold Ship):
Arima Kinen (G1 - English) PLAY  
Kikuka Sho (Japanese St. Leger) (G1 - English) HIGH LOW
Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas) (G1 - English) HIGH LOW

Gold Ship was the unanimous choice for Best Three-Year-Old Colt of the 2012 season after nailing down the year-end Arima Kinen against a field of older G1 runners, as well as scoring victories in two of the three-year-old Triple Crown titles.

With two wins out of four starts as a two-year-old, the Stay Gold colt landed his first grade-race win in the 2012 Kyodo News Service Hai. He then claimed his first classic title in the Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas) by a comfortable 2-1/2 length margin. With the exception of finishing fifth in the Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby), in which he was forced wide at the stretch and was just short of reaching the leaders, the gray colt did not fail to finish within the first two since his debut. Coming off another strong victory in his fall comeback start, the Kobe Shimbun Hai, Gold Ship captured his second Triple Crown title, the Kikuka Sho (Japanese St. Leger), with a convincing win that was just 0.2 second short of the race record.

Sent to post as the race favorite for his first test against senior rivals of the highest level in the Arima Kinen, Gold Ship confirmed his outstanding power, which he preserved by passing up the Japan Cup, by exploding from last to first for his third G1 title.

His versatility in racing style—usually positioned behind and then quickly responding to command with speed and staying power—will be an asset in facing tougher competition in the coming season. His four-year-old spring campaign is scheduled to start with the Hanshin Daishoten (G2, 3,000m), followed by the Tenno Sho (Spring) (G1, 3,200m) and then the Takarazuka Kinen (G1, 2,200m).

Top

BEST OLDER COLT OR HORSE

Orfevre (JPN)

Orfevre (JPN)

Age (Date of Foaling) : 4 (May 14, 2008)
Sex / Color : Colt / Chestnut
Sire : Stay Gold
Dam (Sire of Dam) : Oriental Art (Mejiro McQueen)
Owner : Sunday Racing Co., Ltd.
Breeder : Shadai Corporation Inc.
Trainer : Yasutoshi Ikee
Season Record / Earnings : 6 starts, 2 wins / ¥ 359,772,000
Career Record / Earnings : 17 starts, 9 wins / ¥ 1,178,750,000
Principal Wins in 2012 : Takarazuka Kinen (G1)
Video (Orfevre):
Takarazuka Kinen (G1 - English) HIGH LOW

Orfevre, after his much-heralded 2011 Triple Crown season as Horse of the Year, continued with another history-making year despite having to overcome issues that would prevent him from maximizing his phenomenal talent. His runner-up efforts in his last two starts, the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe and the Japan Cup, as well as his sweeping victory in the Takarazuka Kinen and a G2 title in France, were more than enough to earn him an overwhelming number of votes as the Best Older Colt or Horse of 2012.

The Stay Gold colt, although highly regarded as a two-year-old, began with one win out of three starts, including a tenth-place finish. He was not counted among the top three-year-old classic hopefuls until his first grade-race victory, the 2011 Spring Stakes (G2, 1,800m), where he began a six-race winning streak that included the Triple Crown races and the Arima Kinen, in which he bested a field of senior multiple-G1 winners.

Orfevre's much expected four-year-old season got off to a rocky start as the talented colt's temperamental side affected his performance early in the season, which almost resulted in cancelling his planned challenge abroad. But his outstanding talent was visible all the way and he finally put it together in front of an international crowd by claiming the Prix Foy, after which he staged an exciting finish in his runner-up effort in the Arc.

Trainer Yasutoshi Ikee, who readily announced his intention to challenge the Arc with Orfevre again this year, plans to pass up the Tenno Sho (Spring) and aim the chestnut towards his second consecutive title in the Takarazuka Kinen. His seasonal debut will be the Sankei Osaka Hai (G2, 2,000m) in the end of March.

Top

BEST OLDER FILLY OR MARE

Curren Chan (JPN)

Curren Chan (JPN)

Age (Date of Foaling) : 5 (March 31, 2007)
Sex / Color : Mare / Gray
Sire : Kurofune
Dam (Sire of Dam) : Spring Ticket (Tony Bin)
Owner : Takashi Suzuki
Breeder : Shadai Farm
Trainer : Takayuki Yasuda
Season Record / Earnings : 5 starts, 1 win / ¥ 151,866,000
Career Record / Earnings : 18 starts, 9 wins / ¥ 453,873,900
Principal Wins in 2012 : Takamatsunomiya Kinen (G1)
Video (Curren Chan):
Takamatsunomiya Kinen (G1 - English) HIGH LOW

Curren Chan continued to excel in the 2012 season with a victory in the spring sprint championship, the Takamatsunomiya Kinen, and a runner-up effort in the fall sprint G1, the Sprinters Stakes, which she had won in 2011.

Trained by Takayuki Yasuda, who has now saddled two outstanding JRA Award-winning sprinters in the last two years, Curren Chan in 2011 and Lord Kanaloa in 2012, the Kurofune filly was second in her only start as a two-year-old. She broke her maiden on dirt in her first start of the following year and marked another win, this time on turf, three weeks later.

Raced on turf thereafter, 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.

Her 2011 season marked the highlight of her racing career when she proved highly competitive against male rivals in a five-race winning streak. Stepping up in class, she captured her first G1 victory in her last such challenge, the Sprinters Stakes, fending off Rocket Man, Singapore's highly rated sprint champion, and Lucky Nine from Hong Kong.

In her first 2012 target, the Takamatsunomiya Kinen, she measured up to her overwhelming selection as the 2011 Best Sprinter or Miler by capturing her second G1 title, holding off subsequent sprint champion Lord Kanaloa. She became the third filly/mare to win the Takamatsunomiya Kinen and the fifth horse to capture both sprint G1 titles. Though later defeated by Lord Kanaloa in the Sprinters Stakes, Curren Chan held on gamely for second.

Concluding her racing career in Hong Kong, where she finished seventh in the Hong Kong Sprint, she now begins her new career as a broodmare and is scheduled to be bred to Deep Impact.

Top

BEST SPRINTER OR MILER

Lord Kanaloa (JPN)

Lord Kanaloa (JPN)

Age (Date of Foaling) : 4 (March 11, 2008)
Sex / Color : Colt / Bay
Sire : King Kamehameha
Dam (Sire of Dam) : Lady Blossom (Storm Cat)
Owner : Lord Horse Club
Breeder : K. I. Farm
Trainer : Takayuki Yasuda
Season Record / Earnings : 6 starts, 3 wins / ¥ 284,228,900
Career Record / Earnings : 13 starts, 8 wins / ¥ 393,408,900
Principal Wins in 2012 : Hong Kong Sprint (G1), Sprinters Stakes (G1)
Video (Lord Kanaloa):
Sprinters Stakes (G1 - English) HIGH LOW

Lord Kanaloa took home the season's Best Sprinter or Miler award for outstanding achievements that included two sprint G1 titles, the Sprinters Stakes and the Hong Kong Sprint, as well as a G3 title earlier in his four-year-old campaign. The title accomplishment was the second in a row for trainer Takayuki Yasuda, who won the same award last year with Curren Chan.

Following an overwhelming six-length victory in his only start as a two-year-old, the King Kamehameha colt missed by a 1/2-length in both of his next two starts, a mile and 1,400 meters. Thereafter, however, he was undefeated in his next four races over 1,200 meters, the last being his grade-race debut in the Keihan Hai (G3, 1,200m).

In his 2012 kick-off, Lord Kanaloa extended his winning streak to five with another grade-race victory, the Silk Road Stakes. He then finished a close third to 2011 Best Sprinter or Miler, Curren Chan, in his G1 debut, the Takamatsunomiya Kinen. Coming off a solid second in the Centaur Stakes and sent to post second choice behind stable-mate and defending champion Curren Chan in the Sprinters Stakes, the bay colt executed a powerful turn of speed to outrun Curren Chan for his first G1 title, which he claimed in record time.

His overseas challenge came soon after, the Hong Kong Sprint, where he continued to demonstrate his excellent speed to mark his first overseas success, separating himself from the field by 2-1/2 lengths to become the first Japan-based runner to win the race in 14 challenges.

Lord Kanaloa's 2013 season will be aimed at either the Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1) or the Takamatsunomiya Kinen (G1).

Top

BEST DIRT HORSE

Nihonpiro Ours (JPN)

Nihonpiro Ours (JPN)

Age (Date of Foaling) : 5 (May 3, 2007)
Sex / Color : Horse / Dark Bay or Brown
Sire : White Muzzle
Dam (Sire of Dam) : Nihonpillow Lupinus (Admire Vega)
Owner : Hyakutaro Kobayashi
Breeder : Hyakutaro Kobayashi
Trainer : Yuki Ohashi
Season Record / Earnings : 7 starts, 3 wins / ¥ 226,346,000
Career Record / Earnings : 22 starts, 10 wins / ¥ 379,910,000
Principal Wins in 2012 : Japan Cup Dirt (G1)
Video (Nihonpiro Ours):
Japan Cup Dirt (G1 - English) HIGH LOW

Nihonpiro Ours was chosen Best Dirt Horse with an overwhelming 219 votes for three grade-race titles and two runner-up efforts out of seven starts. Most notable, of course, was his victory in the Japan Cup Dirt, where he displayed an impressive turn of speed in the last 200 meters to draw away to a 3-1/2 length victory in a race-record 1:48.8 over the 1,800-meter distance. The impressive victory came against a strong field that included past Japan Cup Dirt champions and other dirt G1 winners.

The late-developing son of White Muzzle broke his maiden in the third start of his three-year-old debut season and went to finish within the money in all eight starts, registering 4-2-2 that year. Given a good six-month break, he scored a win in his second start of his four-year-old campaign and then headed to open-class competition where he landed another win. He went on to register a second in the Hakusan Daishoten (dirt, 2,100m), which was his first grade-race challenge. He was ninth in his first Japan Cup Dirt in 2011, but capped off the season with his first grade-race victory in the Nagoya Grand Prix (dirt, 2,500m).

He added his second grade-race title in the 2012 Nagoya Daishoten, which he won easily by six lengths, and then claimed a four-length victory in the Hakusan Daishoten before a neck second in the Miyako Stakes. His first G1 victory in the Japan Cup Dirt marked his tenth win out of 22 career starts, of which he was out of the money on only three occasions.

His trainer, Yuki Ohashi, who claimed his first G1 title with Nihonpiro Ours, is in no rush with the dark bay and plans to give him as much rest as needed before embarking on his six-year-old campaign.

Top

BEST STEEPLECHASE HORSE

Majesty Bio (JPN)

Majesty Bio (JPN)

Age (Date of Foaling) : 5 (March 9, 2007)
Sex / Color : Horse / Bay
Sire : Opera House
Dam (Sire of Dam) : High Grade Bio (Hector Protector)
Owner : Bio K.
Breeder : Bio Co.,Ltd.
Trainer : Tsuyoshi Tanaka
Season Record / Earnings : 5 starts, 3 wins / ¥ 112,179,000 * steeplechase only
Career Record / Earnings : 14 starts, 7 wins / ¥ 289,875,000 * steeplechase only
Principal Wins in 2012 : Nakayama Grand Jump (J-G1)

*steeplechases only
Video (Majesty Bio):
Nakayama Grand Jump (J-G1) HIGH LOW

Majesty Bio won his second consecutive title as Best Steeplechase Horse for outstanding performances over obstacles in 2012, scoring three wins and a third out of five starts, which included a second career G1 title in the Nakayama Grand Jump in April and a third in the Nakayama Daishogai in December.

After capturing his first J-G1 challenge in the 2011 Nakayama Daishogai as a four-year-old colt, the son of Opera House kicked off his five-year-old campaign with a win in the Pegasus Jump Stakes and lived up to his top billing in the Nakayama Grand Jump, rolling to victory by a convincing eight-length margin over wet and soft turf. He became only the third horse in JRA history to claim both J-G1 titles, following Blandices and Maruka Rascal, who won the Nakayama Grand Jump in 2004 and 2008, respectively.

Although he lost a shoe during his fall comeback start in the Tokyo High-Jump, resulting in a disappointing ninth, he was quick to recover with a win in the Illumination Jump Stakes and then was third in his third J-G1 attempt, the Nakayama Daishogai.

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, scoring just one win out of 13 starts. He registered his second career victory in his third jump race in 2011 and landed his first grade-race title in the Tokyo Jump Stakes (J-G3, 3,300m) by a whopping four-length margin. Improving with every start, Majesty Bio concluded the season with his first J-G1 victory, which earned him his JRA Award title.

Still young as a steeplechaser at six years old, the reliable jumper is scheduled to defend his Nakayama Grand Jump Title in 2013.

Top

BEST TRAINER (RACES WON)

Katsuhiko Sumii

Katsuhiko Sumii
Age : 48 (March 28, 1964)
License Issued : 2000
First Race : March 11, 2001 (Setono McQueen; 5th)
First Win : March 24, 2001 (Sky and Ryu)
Wins / Starts in 2012 : 59 / 359
Career Wins / Starts : 441 / 3,150
Winning Average in 2012 : 0.1643
Earnings in 2012 : ¥ 1,341,615,100
Principal Wins in 2012 : Queen Elizabeth II Cup (G1, Rulership)
    American Jockey Club Cup (G2, Rulership)
    Radio Nikkei Hai Nisai Stakes (G3, Epiphaneia)
    Mermaid Stakes (G3, Gullveig)
    Fukushima Himba Stakes (G3, All That Jazz)

Katsuhiko Sumii took home his second consecutive Best Trainer (Races Won) award by racking up 59 wins. It was his eighth overall JRA Award, having previously claimed titles for Money Earned ('05, '08 and '10), Training Technique ('09, '10 and '11) and Races Won in 2011.

Saddling an impressive 21 winners in his training debut in 2001, Sumii saw his wins steadily rise to well above 40, ranking him within the top five every year between 2008 and 2010. With 60 wins in 2011, he established himself as the leading trainer. His 57 wins in 2012 tied him with Yasutoshi Ikee (JRA races only) but, while Ikee had more seconds to officially put him on top of the JRA's leader board, Sumii was given the wins title due to his additional wins in designated races outside JRA.

Acquiring his trainer's 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's outstanding training methods have already produced many successful runners, including Delta Blues ('04 Best Horse by Home-Bred Sire), Cesario ('05 Best Three-Year-Old Filly and Best Horse by Home-Bred Sire), Hat Trick ('05 Best Sprinter or Miler), Kane Hekili ('05 Best Dirt Horse and'08 Best Dirt Horse), Vodka ('06 Best Two-Year-Old Filly, '07 Special Award, '08 Horse of the Year and Best Older Filly or Mare, and '09 Horse of the Year and Best Older Filly or Mare), Tall Poppy ('07 Best Two-Year-Old Filly), Victoire Pisa ('10 Best Three-Year-Old Colt and'11 Best Older Colt or Horse) and Aventura ('11 Best Three-Year-Old Filly). While he was unable to extend his record of eight consecutive seasons with at least one JRA G1 victory, the 28-time G1 winner claimed his fifth overseas G1 triumph—the most among JRA trainers—when Rulership won the 2012 Queen Elizabeth II Cup.

Sumii quickly made his name known internationally as the first Japanese trainer to saddle a Japanese-bred/trained G1 winner in the U.S. with Cesario (American Oaks) in 2005. 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, and Rulership landed his fifth in 2012.

Top

BEST TRAINER (MONEY EARNED)

Yasutoshi Ikee

Yasutoshi Ikee
Age : 44 (January 13, 1969)
License Issued : 2003
First Race : March 20, 2004 (Sonic Surpass; 1st)
First Win : March 20, 2004 (Sonic Surpass)
Wins / Starts in 2012 : 58 / 344
Career Wins / Starts : 341 / 2,109
Winning Average in 2012 : 0.1686
Earnings in 2012 : ¥ 1,951,971,200
Principal Wins in 2012 : Takarazuka Kinen (G1, Orfevre)
    Kinko Sho (G2, Ocean Blue)
    Prix Foy (G2, Orfevre)
    Kyoto Shimbun Hai (G2, Tosen Homareboshi)
    Kyoto Kinen (G2, Trailblazer)
    Nikkei Shinshun Hai (G2, To the Glory)

Yasutoshi Ikee continued with another highly successful season following his record-breaking 2011 campaign with Triple Crown-winner Orfevre. While the Takarazuka Kinen victory with Orfevre was his only G1 title in 2012, he scored several other grade-race wins with To the Glory (Nikkei Shinshun Hai [G2], Naruo Kinen [G3]), Trailblazer (Kyoto Kinen [G2], Ocean Blue (Kinko Sho [G2]), Tosen Reve (Epsom Cup [G3]), Tosen Homareboshi (Kyoto Shimbun Hai [G2]) and World Ace (Kisaragi Sho [G3]). Orfevre also gave Ikee his first grade-race title overseas in the Prix Foy (G2), prior to the colt's noteworthy runner-up effort in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. With these and an outstanding string of other horses that won or placed within the money, his record of 57-43-28 out of 338 starts in JRA races alone —a personal best—amassed total earnings of 1,951,971,200 yen.

Ikee quickly established himself as a prominent contender after acquiring his trainer's license in 2003. Already a JRA Award winner in Winning Average in 2006, he rose to the top of the national standings with 51 wins in 2008 to claim both the JRA Award for Races Won at age 39—the youngest in JRA history—and Training Technique. After landing his second title for Winning Average in 2010, he enjoyed his best season yet in 2011, registering 11 grade-race wins and record-breaking annual earnings of 2,433,946,500 yen. The season's Triple Crown winner, Orfevre, who also captured the Arima Kinen 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 set by Ichizo Iwamoto in 2000 for most G1 wins in a season.

The son of former trainer Yasuo Ikee, Yasutoshi began as a groom and later assistant trainer for Kuniichi Asami's yard. He worked under his father's stable before studying the art of training in England and the U.S. under top trainers Sir Michael Stoute and Neil Drysdale, respectively. After opening his own yard in 2004, he continued to support his father when Deep Impact traveled to France for the Arc 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. Orfevre, undoubtedly his best horse yet, who brought him a Triple Crown title in 2011, is a full brother to his first JRA Award winner, Dream Journey.

Top

BEST TRAINER (WINNING AVERAGE) & BEST TRAINER (TRAINING TECHNIQUE)

Naosuke Sugai

Naosuke Sugai
Age : 46 (June 3, 1966)
License Issued : 2008
First Race : March 8, 2009 (Working Woman; 11th)
First Win : March 14, 2009 (Hokko One Man)
Wins / Starts in 2012 : 46 / 267
Career Wins / Starts : 111 / 996
Winning Average in 2012 : 0.1723
Earnings in 2012 : ¥ 1,385,161,000
Principal Wins in 2012 : Arima Kinen (G1, Gold Ship)
    Hanshin Juvenile Fillies (G1, Robe Tissage)
    Kikuka Sho (Japanese St. Leger, G1, Gold Ship)
    Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas, G1, Gold Ship)
    Kobe Shimbun Hai (G2, Gold Ship)

Naosuke Sugai won his first two JRA Awards for Best Trainer (Winning Average and Training Technique) in his fourth season since opening his yard in 2009. He also celebrated his 100th win on the day that he captured the Kikuka Sho (Japanese St. Leger, G1) with Best Three-Year-Old Colt Gold Ship three years seven months and 21 days after his debut—the fastest in JRA history.

Born into a racing family—his father a former jockey and trainer and uncle a former jockey—Sugai made a meteoric rise after acquiring his training license, having concluded his career as a jockey with 302 wins out of 4,163 mounts, including four grade-race wins between 1985 and 2008.

His first win as a trainer came a week after his debut in 2009 with Hokko One Man, and he registered 10 wins from 180 starts (JRA only) that year. His wins increased to 25 in 2010 and 29 in 2011, but he was still far from the top 10 on the trainer’s leader-board and without a grade-race title to his name.

His big break came early in the 2012 season when Gold Ship won him his first grade-race victory in the Kyodo News Service Hai (G3) in February. In less than two weeks Just Away brought him his second grade-race title in the Arlington Cup (G3) and soon Sugai was the winning trainer of two Triple Crown classics as Gold Ship sailed to victories in both the Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas, G1) and the Kikuka Sho. Five-year-old Asuka Kurichan also contributed a G3 win in the summer. In December, he had two fillies to saddle in the Hanshin Juvenile Fillies—Collector Item, who finished fourth after coming off a win in the newly established Artemis Stakes, and Robe Tissage, who ultimately won him the champion G1 title. He capped off his terrific season with a fourth G1 title in the “All-Star” Arima Kinen with Gold Ship.

He concluded his 2012 season with 46 wins out of 267 starts, placing him sixth on the JRA’s national leader-board and top in winning average. With five grade-race winners and two JRA Award winners in a single season, Sugai has quickly established his training techniques as among the best in Japan.

Top

BEST JOCKEY (RACES WON) & BEST JOCKEY (MONEY EARNED)

Yasunari Iwata

Yasunari Iwata
Age : 38 (March 12, 1974)
License Issued : 2006*
First Race : November 7, 1999 (Ishiyaku Monde; 5th)
First Win : September 16, 2000 (Bamboo Utahime)
Wins / Starts in 2012 : 134 / 900
Career Wins / Starts : 1,045 / 7,442
Winning Average in 2012 : 0.1489
Earnings in 2012 : ¥ 3,621,199,900
Principal Wins in 2012 : Japan Cup (G1, Gentildonna)
    Shuka Sho (G1, Gentildonna)
    Sprinters Stakes (G1, Lord Kanaloa)
    Tokyo Yushun
    (Japanese Derby, G1, Deep Brillante)
    Oka Sho
    (Japanese 1000 Guineas, G1, Gentildonna)
    February Stakes (G1, Testa Matta)
    Tokyo Daishoten (G1, Roman Legend)
    Hong Kong Sprint (G1, Lord Kanaloa)
    *NAR from 1991

Yasunari Iwata registered 134 wins and earnings of more than ¥3.62 billion to claim Best Jockey (Races Won) and Best Jockey (Money Earned), the second consecutive year in which he has secured both titles. He also claimed the title for Money Earned in 2008. The 2012 season was especially memorable for the former top NAR jockey, who captured six JRA G1 titles to equal the annual record shared by Yutaka Take ('05 & '06), Katsumi Ando ('07) and Kenichi Ikezoe ('11). Although unable to partner Gentildonna in one of her three-year-old fillies' Triple Crown races due to a suspension, which allowed Yuga Kawada to pilot the filly to victory in the Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks, G1), Iwata won his first derby title a week later aboard Deep Brillante in the Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby, G1). His other G1 titles in 2012 included the February Stakes with Testa Matta, the Sprinters Stakes with Lord Kanaloa and the Japan Cup with Horse of the Year Gentildonna. He also added to his overseas success aboard Lord Kanaloa in the Hong Kong Sprint (G1) and claimed the Tokyo Daishoten, the first NAR race designated an international G1 event in 2011, with Roman Legend—both in December.

Iwata started his career in 1991 as an NAR jockey and quickly became one of the top jockeys at Sonoda Racecourse in Hyogo Prefecture. He was the champion jockey in the Hyogo district in 2000, 2002, 2004 and 2005, and amassed more than 3,000th wins. His ambitions expanded to the JRA, where he became the first NAR jockey to capture a classic title with Delta Blues in the Kikuka Sho (Japanese St. Leger, G1) in 2004. He finally transferred his license to the JRA in 2006.

His inaugural JRA season was highlighted with a victory in the Melbourne Cup (G1) aboard Delta Blues in his first overseas campaign. He has claimed numerous titles with gifted mounts, such as Admire Moon, Vodka, Victoire Pisa and Buena Vista, as well as Lord Kanaloa and Gentildonna, together with whom he enjoyed a spectacular 2012 season. In JRA racing Iwata has registered 18 G1 titles among a total of 53 grade-race wins, and he celebrated his 900th career win in June 2012. He has constantly placed among the top five jockeys since his JRA debut, except in 2010 when he missed two months due to a fall.

Top

BEST JOCKEY (WINNING AVERAGE)

Norihiro Yokoyama

Norihiro Yokoyama
Age : 44 (February 23, 1968)
License Issued : 1986
First Race : March 1, 1986 (Rikiai Shimpu; 3rd)
First Win : April 29, 1986 (Kioi God)
Wins / Starts in 2012 : 113 / 630
Career Wins / Starts : 2,413 / 16,373
Winning Average in 2012 : 0.1794
Earnings in 2012 : ¥ 2,065,328,000
Principal Wins in 2012 : Victoria Mile (G1, Whale Capture)
    Copa Republica Argentina (G2, Lelouch)
    Capella Stakes (G3, Silk Fortune)
    Tokyo Sports Hai Nisai Stakes (G3, Codino)
    Keisei Hai Autumn Handicap (G3, Leo Active)
    Sapporo Nisai Stakes (G3, Codino)
    Diolite Kinen (Renforcer)

Norihiro Yokoyama won his second JRA Award for Winning Average, punctuated with major titles such as the Victoria Mile (G1) with Whale Capture, the Keisei Hai Autumn Handicap (G3) with Leo Active, the Sapporo Nisai Stakes (G3) with Codino and the Capella Stakes (G3) with Silk Fortune. His achievements in 2012 brought his grade-race titles to 139 wins in JRA racing.

Son of Tomio Yokoyama, a former G1-winning jockey, Yokoyama kicked off his career in 1986 and marked his first win at Tokyo Racecourse with Kioi God that April. He landed his first grade-race win in 1988 in the Winter Stakes (G3) and went on to capture his first G1 victory two years later in the Queen Elizabeth II Commemorative Cup with Kyoei Tap, which was just one out of eight graded stakes he marked that season.

He steadily accumulated JRA grade-race wins, capturing over 10 titles each in 1998 and from 2008 to 2010, including his 100th grade-race victory in 2008. In 2009, he landed his first and much awaited Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby, G1) title with Logi Universe along with two other G1 victories, the Tenno Sho (Autumn) and the Mile Championship on board Company.

Yokoyama launched his 2010 season brilliantly with a four-week grade-race winning streak, including the American Jockey Club Cup (G2). By the time he claimed the Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks, G1) in May, he had notched 11 grade-race wins. Although a spill in September and a suspension in November kept him sidelined for a couple of months, he still capped off the season with a staggering 121 wins, earning him his first JRA Award for Best Jockey (Winning Average).

Among his 95 wins during the 2011 JRA season, he ranked second in eastern Japan with five grade-race titles and extended his career wins to 2,300 in June 2012—a milestone accomplished by only two other jockeys, Yukio Okabe (retired) and Yutaka Take. While his annual wins have been on and off the three-digit mark in recent years, his strike rate in finishing second (31.1%) and within the money (41.0%) were the highest among the JRA's flat jockeys in 2012.

Yokoyama's son, Kazuo, followed in his footsteps and made his debut as a JRA jockey in 2011. Kazuo rode against his father in his second career start, coming in sixth while his father finished third.

Top

BEST STEEPLECHASE JOCKEY

Shinya Kitazawa

Shinya Kitazawa
Age : 41 (June 9, 1971)
License Issued : 1990
First Race : March 3, 1990 (Clear Turbo; 11th)
First Win : March 10, 1990 (Jonetsu)
Wins / Starts in 2012* : 13 / 65
Career Wins / Starts* : 89 / 813
Winning Average in 2012* : 0.2000
Earnings in 2012* : ¥ 234,970,000
Principal Wins in 2012 : Tokyo Jump Stakes (J-G3, Denko Octopus)
    *steeplechase only

Shinya Kitazawa won his first JRA Award for Best Steeplechase Jockey with a personal-best 13 wins (steeplechase only) in 2012. He also captured his third grade-race title in the Tokyo Jump Stakes (J-G3), which he won in a course record of 3:30.8 over the 3,110-meter distance aboard Denko Octopus. In addition, he celebrated his 200th JRA career win in April.

Starting as an apprentice jockey under trainer Mitsuo Ogino, he scored his first win a week after his debut in March 1990. He finished fifth in the 1995 Tenno Sho (Autumn) with Yamaninsky mare Posy before becoming a freelance jockey that year, but it was not until 1996 that he reached his 100th win. Thereafter he was retained by Yoshiyasu Tajima and Mitsuru Hashida, but he recently went freelance again in October 2012.

Kitazawa's first ride over obstacles was in March 1998 and his first steeplechase win was in August that year. It was around that time when he began to devote the majority of his efforts to steeplechase.

He finished third in his first major jump-race event with Eiyu Dumbo in the 1998 Kyoto Daishogai (forerunner of the graded Kyoto Jump Stakes and Kyoto High-Jump). His first grade-race victory was with Millennium Suzuka in the 2002 Hanshin Jump Stakes (J-G3).

Steadily increasing his number of wins and proving consistent in his place rate, he registered 12 victories in 2010 to rank second in the national steeplechase jockey standings, including his second grade-race victory with Towa Vega in the Hanshin Spring Jump (J-G2).

Top


JRA EQUINE CULTURE AWARD

Nominees for the 2012 JRA Equine Culture Award included horse-related cultural events and publications that were printed, broadcasted or held between November 2011 and October 2012. A committee of journalists and other distinguished people from academic and artistic fields chose four finalists for further screening. In the end, they awarded the JRA Equine Culture Award to a film entitled “Giddy Up at the Soma-Nomaoi—Overcoming the Great East Japan Earthquake.”

Winner
“Giddy Up at the Soma-Nomaoi—Overcoming the Great East Japan Earthquake,” which was planned, produced and copyrighted by NHK Media Technology, Inc., is a 3D documentary about Soma-Nomaoi, a traditional festival that showcases valiant cavalry battles between samurai warriors and a race featuring horses dressed in ancient battle armor. The three-day event, which takes place in Fukushima Prefecture of northeastern Japan, the area struck by the powerful earthquake and tsunami of March 2011, is recognized as an intangible cultural asset of Japan.

The 57-minute documentary follows the real-life battle of the Soma-Nomaoi Executive Committee after the disastrous earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown. With samurai-like courage, the committee barely managed to overcome huge obstacles to stage a downsized festival in 2011, thereby helping to breathe new life and energy into the ravaged regional community. The story continues into 2012, when the resurrected festival returned to its former glory to present mounted battles and racing, all of which is captured vividly in the 3D film.

Recipients
NHK Media Technology, Inc.
An affiliate of NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation), NHK Media Technology specializes in technology for the production of programs, particularly the development of three-dimensional (3D) technology. It has produced more than 500 3D high-definition titles covering a variety of genres, including sports, music, drama, natural history and medicine.

Soma Nomaoi Executive Committee
The Soma Nomaoi Executive Committee has been instrumental in organizing and publicizing this spectacularly exciting festival not only in Japan but also overseas, having sent mounted samurais to England, Russia and the United States. The committee is part of the Sightseeing Interchange Division of the Minamisoma City Office and is headed by the mayor of Minamisoma.

Top

JRA EQUINE CULTURE AWARD – AWARD OF MERIT

A special Award of Merit was presented to Hiroshi Hoketsu, an equestrian dressage rider who represented Japan in the 2012 London Olympic Games and thereby renewed his record as Japan's oldest-ever (71) Olympian. His contribution to Japan's equine culture through his devotion to equestrian sports (also supported actively by the JRA) has enabled him to stay healthy and remain a highly distinguished horse rider for nearly a half century. This special award was last presented to the late photographer Ms. Hisae Imai in 2009.

Hoketsu participated as a show-jumper in Tokyo 1964 and then as a dressage rider in Beijing 2008 and London 2012. The 48-year period between his first and last Olympic appearances is recognized in the Guinness World Records as the longest Olympic career in history. Hoketsu also was a champion dressage rider in Japan for five consecutive years beginning in 1988. He has been instrumental in raising the standard of equestrian sports in Japan.


Results of the 2012 JRA Awards (Total Votes: 289)

Horse of the Year
Place Horse Votes
1 Gentildonna (JPN) 256
2 Gold Ship (JPN) 21
3 Orfevre (JPN) 11
4 Lord Kanaloa (JPN) 1
Total   289
  Best Older Colt or Horse
Place Horse Votes
1 Orfevre (JPN) 273
2 Lord Kanaloa (JPN) 14
3 Eishin Flash (JPN) 1
  None 1
Total   289

Best Two-Year-Old Colt
Place Horse Votes
1 Logotype (JPN) 241
2 Epiphaneia (JPN) 29
3 Codino (JPN) 17
  None 2
Total   289
Best Older Filly or Mare
Place Horse Votes
1 Curren Chan (JPN) 177
2 Rainbow Dahlia (JPN) 75
3 Donau Blue (JPN) 3
3 Whale Capture (JPN) 3
5 Miracle Legend (JPN) 1
  None 30
Total   289

Best Two-Year-Old Filly
Place Horse Votes
1 Robe Tissage (JPN) 288
  None 1
Total   289
Best Sprinter or Miler
Place Horse Votes
1 Lord Kanaloa (JPN) 283
2 Curren Chan (JPN) 4
3 Sadamu Patek (JPN) 1
  None 1
Total   289

Best Three-Year-Old Colt
Place Horse Votes
1 Gold Ship (JPN) 289
Total   289
Best Dirt Horse
Place Horse Votes
1 Nihonpiro Ours (JPN) 219
2 Roman Legend (JPN) 44
3 Wonder Acute (JPN) 5
4 Espoir City (JPN) 4
5 Gold Blitz (JPN) 1
  None 16
Total   289

Best Three-Year-Old Filly
Place Horse Votes
1 Gentildonna (JPN) 289
Total   289
Best Steeplechase Horse
Place Horse Votes
1 Majesty Bio (JPN) 156
2 Marvelous Kaiser (JPN) 121
3 M S World (JPN) 1
  None 11
Total   289

Top