2015 News

December 6, 2015


Sambista Scores Upset Victory in This Year's Champions Cup to Become the First Female to Claim JRA-G1 Dirt Title
Champions Cup (G1)

Champions Cup (G1)

Twelfth pick Sambista, partnering with Mirco Demuro for the first time, pulled an upset victory, holding off G1 male dirt specialists in this year’s Champions Cup to become the first mare to win a JRA-G1 dirt race in her second G1 and sixth grade-race victory. The Suzuka Mambo mare registered her first NAR-G1 title in the 2014 JBC Ladies’ Classic and was fourth in last year’s Champions Cup.

This win marked trainer Katsuhiko Sumii’s 22nd JRA-G1 victory following last year’s Japan Cup title with Epiphaneia and his third victory in this race including his wins in the previous Japan Cup Dirt in 2005 and 2008 with Kane Hekili. Jockey Mirco Demuro registered his 13th JRA-G1 title following his win in the Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby) with Duramente.

Six-year-old Sambista broke smoothly from stall four and hugged the rails in 6-7th behind pacesetter Copano Rickey. As the field turned for home and just when the race seemed to develop into a duel between the first two favorites—Copano Rickey and Hokko Tarumae who was closing in on the frontrunner—the Suzuka Mambo mare who angled out and accelerated persistently under Mirco Demuro’s urgings, pinned the leaders 200 meters out and fended off the strong challenges of Nonkono Yume and Sound True before the wire for her second G1 win.

Third favorite Nonkono Yume made a clean start from the innermost stall and eased back towards the rear. Entering the homestretch second from last, the three-year-old Twining colt continued to hug the rails while delivering an impressive turn of speed to close in on the winner to 1-1/2 lengths at the wire.

Fifth choice Sound True, also breaking well, settled in the very rear and stalked Nonkono Yume until the last corner, after which the five-year-old chestnut was steered out and produced an explosive late kick from the outside that marked the fastest three furlongs in the field though finishing a neck short of the runner-up.

Odds-on-favorite Copano Rickey rushed out and rallied strongly with Kurino Star O and Gun Pit to take the lead but tired from his early efforts in the last 200 meters to finish seventh.

Quick out of the gate, Gun Pit raced prominently three wide to about third corner, was squeezed at the head of the stretch and faded.

Gun Pit’s trainer Caspar Fownes commented: “He got a bad squeeze at the stretch…he just sat him in the last three furlongs…the track had been so leader-biased all day so he had to ride him forward. We tried to give him the run but he was three wide the whole trip. He nearly got into a good spot but set to work at both ends.”

Gun Pit’s jockey Zachary Purton said: “I was following number thirteen (Hokko Tarumae) into the straight but he was dead before then. He just seemed to struggle with the surface.”

[Other Horses]
4th: (16) Roi Jardin—saved ground in 4th from rear, accelerated between horses at stretch
5th: (13) Hokko Tarumae—traveled outside winner early, gradually made headway, entered 2nd into lane, pinned by winner at 200m marker, weakened in final strides
6th: (3) Wonder Acute—hugged rail in mid-pack, turned wide, showed effort and improved position at straight
8th: (10) Grape Brandy—raced 3-wide in mid-group, quickened until 150m out, weakened thereafter
9th: (6) Namura Victor—positioned toward rear, circled wide, failed to respond at stretch
10th: (15) Grand City—trailed in rear, advanced along the outside after 3rd corner, passed tired rivals
11th: (5) Nihonpiro Ours—ran along rail in 3rd to 4th, sustained bid until furlong pole then outrun
12th: (8) Danon Liberty—sat in mid-pack, even paced at straight
13th: (11) Corin Berry—raced in front of winner, showed little at stretch
14th: (9) Roman Legend—traveled 3-wide in mid-division, ran gamely until 300m out, dropped back thereafter
15th: (12) Kurino Star O—pressed pace in 2nd, used up at top of stretch

THE 16TH CHAMPIONS CUP (G1) – Japan Autumn International -
3-year-olds & up, 1,800 meters (about 9 furlongs), dirt, left-handed
Sunday, December 6, 2015   Chukyo Racecourse   11th Race   Post Time: 15:30
Total prize money: ¥ 196,320,000 (about US$ 1,636,000 <US$1=¥120>)
3-y-o: 56 kg (about 123-124 lbs), 4-y-o & up: 57 kg (about 126 lbs)
2 kg allowance for Fillies & Mares, 2kg allowance for Southern Hemisphere-bred born in 2012
Safety Factor: 16 runners

FP BK PP Horse Sex
1 2 4 Sambista
M6 55.0 Suzuka Mambo
White Carnival
M. Demuro
K. Sumii
K. Hidaka Breeders Union
Grand Stud
2 1 1 Nonkono Yume
C3 56.0 Twining
C. Lemaire
Y. Kato
Kazumasa Yamada
Shadai Farm
3 1 2 Sound True
G5 57.0 French Deputy
Kyoei Truth
T. Ono
N. Takagi
Hiroshi Yamada
Okada Stud
4 8 16 Roi Jardin
C4 57.0 King Kamehameha
Agnes Chocolat
S. Hamanaka
H. Toda
Shadai Race Horse Co., Ltd.
Shadai Farm
5 7 13 Hokko Tarumae
H6 57.0 King Kamehameha
Madam Cherokee
H. Miyuki
K. Nishiura
Michiaki Yabe
Ichikawa Farm
6 2 3 Wonder Acute
H9 57.0 Charismatic
Wonder Heritage
R. Wada
M. Sato
N. Yamamoto
Nobuyuki Yamamoto
7 4 7 Copano Rickey
H5 57.0 Gold Allure
Copano Nikita
Y. Take
A. Murayama
Sachiaki Kobayashi
Yanagawa Bokujo
8 5 10
Grape Brandy
H7 57.0 Manhattan Cafe
Wine and Rose
R. Moore
T. Yasuda
Shadai Race Horse Co., Ltd.
Shadai Farm
9 3 6 Namura Victor
H6 57.0 Zenno Rob Roy
Namura Shigeko
S. Akiyama
N. Fukushima
N. Namura
Nobushige Namura
10 8 15
Grand City
H8 57.0 King Kamehameha
Lady Classic
A. Tsumura
I. Aizawa
Yushun Horse
Horomura Bokujo
11 3 5 Nihonpiro Ours
H8 57.0 White Muzzle
Nihonpillow Lupinus
M. Sakai
Y. Ohashi
Hyakutaro Kobayashi
Hyakutaro Kobayashi
12 4 8 Danon Liberty
C3 56.0 King Kamehameha
Scarlet Bell
A. Atzeni
H. Otonashi
Danox Co., Ltd.
Northern Farm
13 6 11 Corin Berry
F4 55.0 South Vigorous
Korin la Vie En
K. Matsuyama
J. Ono
Keiko Ito
Keiko Ito
14 5 9 Roman Legend
H7 57.0 Special Week
Personal Legend
Y. Iwata
H. Fujiwara
Suzuko Ota
Shadai Farm
15 6 12
Kurino Star O
H5 57.0 Admire Boss
Mayano Starlight
H. Bowman
Y. Takahashi
Mamoru Kurimoto
Nissei Bokujo
16 7 14
Gun Pit*
G5 57.0 Dubawi
Magic Tori
Z. Purton
C. Fownes
Chung Wah Cheng
Mr. A Smeaton
FP=Final Position / BK=Bracket Number / PP=Post Position / B=Blinker / Wgt=Weight / L3F=Time of Last 3 Furlongs (600m) / DS=Distance
Note1: *Foreign Horses
Note2: Figures quoted under Odds are Win Odds, which show the amount of money you get back per single unit (100yen), and Fav indicates the order of favorites.

WINNING TIME: 1:50.4 GOING: Standard WEATHER: Cloudy
TURNOVER FOR THE DAY: ¥ 17,705,416,000 ATTENDANCE: 33,062

PAY-OFF (for ¥100)
WIN No.4 ¥6,640 BRACKET QUINELLA 1-2 ¥4,180 QUINELLA 1-4 ¥11,040
PLACE No.4 ¥1,180 QUINELLA PLACE 1-4 ¥3,290 EXACTA 4-1 ¥36,260
No.1 ¥200 2-4 ¥6,620 TRIO 1-2-4 ¥27,320
No.2 ¥370 1-2 ¥930 TRIFECTA 4-1-2 ¥318,430
  1. Sambista (JPN), dark bay or brown, mare, 6-year-old
    Suzuka Mambo / White Carnival (Misil)
    Owner: K. Hidaka Breeders Union Breeder: Grand Stud  
    Trainer: Katsuhiko Sumii Jockey: Mirco Demuro  
    28 Starts, 11 Wins    
    Added money: ¥ 97,444,000 Career earnings: ¥ 376,257,000  
    Principal Race Performances: ’14 JBC Ladies’ Classic (dirt, 1,800m) 1st
      ’15 Ladies’ Prelude (dirt, 1,800m) 1st
      ’15 Marine Cup (dirt, 1,600m) 1st
      ’15 TCK Jo-o Hai (dirt, 1,800m) 1st
      ’14 Breeders’ Gold Cup (dirt, 2,000m) 1st
      ’15 JBC Ladies’ Classic (dirt, 1,800m) 2nd

  2. Nonkono Yume (JPN), dark chestnut, colt, 3-year-old
    Twining / Nonko (Agnes Tachyon)
    Owner: Kazumasa Yamada Breeder: Shadai Farm
    Trainer: Yukihiro Kato Jockey: Christophe Lemaire

  3. Sound True (JPN), chestnut, gelding, 5-year-old
    French Deputy / Kyoei Truth (Fuji Kiseki)
    Owner: Hiroshi Yamada Breeder: Okada Stud
    Trainer: Noboru Takagi Jockey: Takuya Ono
Fractional Time (sec./furlong): 12.5 - 10.7 - 12.3 - 12.5 - 12.2 - 12.3 - 12.5 - 12.5 - 12.9
  Last 4 furlongs: 50.2   Last 3 furlongs: 37.9

Positions at each corner: 1st corner (7,*12,14)(5,11)(8,10,13)4,9(3,6)-16,1-2-15
  2nd corner 7,12(5,14)11(4,13)(8,10)-9,3,6-16,1-2-15
  3rd corner (*7,12,13)(5,9)(11,14)(4,10)(8,6)3(16,15)-1,2
  4th corner (*7,13)(5,12)9(4,14)11(8,10,6)3(16,15)1,2

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

[Post race interview of winning connections]

Trainer: Katsuhiko Sumii
“I am really happy with the victory as I know that for a mare to win against male horses on the dirt surface, which requires considerable power, is not easy and none had finished better than fourth-place—Sambista was fourth last year—in the past JRA-G1 history. Credit goes to Demuro for such a super ride to keep her in contention after racing her with the fast flowing pace, and I found myself screaming my head off when Sambista nailed the front in mid-stretch then praying that the strong chargers from behind would not catch her. Although the mare showed that she was competitive in this race last year and was consistent throughout this season, I did have my worries as she had put on another year in age and nearing the age of becoming a broodmare. Otherwise, she did not require much in terms of training. I will have to discuss her future with the owner but she may have another couple of starts before retiring.”

Jockey: Mirco Demuro
“I’m really happy to have won this race. I rode her for the first time a few days ago on a regular exercise canter and gate test, and I felt that she was an honest mare. I wasn’t given any specific instruction on how to ride the race on this mare, but studying her past performances, I did have some visions on how I would try to ride this race although I knew, knowing that everybody was giving their best to win this race, that it would not be easy. The inside barrier number four certainly helped and she loaded smoothly, and after Mr. Sumii told me that a female runner had never fared better than fourth in a dirt G1, I really wanted to improve on that… it really made me want to win it. We had a good start and was in a good position with Nihonpiro Ours and Copano Rickey in front of us. We had a little fright as our path was narrowed in both the third corner and going into the straight but she really stretched well in the home straight and she was terrific. I thought that maybe our move was a little early when we overtook the two top G1 winners at mid-stretch and while a lot of horses started to tire, I was just urging her to stay…I really wanted to win, and she responded. It’s been a really good year for me… I’ve won the Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas), the Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby) and although I’ve had my share of losses in the Tenno Sho (Autumn) and the Japan Cup, I was able to win another big race this time in the Champions Cup.”

[Other Races Ridden by Zachary Purton]

<Sunday, December 6>
7th race: Three-Year-Olds & Up (Allowance (5Million & Less)), dirt, 1,800m, 14 runners
6th on Quill Connection (JPN, C3, by Deep Sky), 3rd favorite
9th race: Sakae Tokubetsu (Allowance (5Million & Less)), turf, 2,000m, 18 runners
1st on Mikki Tiger (JPN, H5, by King Kamehameha), 13th favorite

* Champions Cup (G1)
Formally run under the name Japan Cup Dirt until 2013, the Champions Cup is no longer an invitational race and takes place at Chukyo Racecourse which is situated in Chubu region between Tokyo and Osaka. The Japan Cup Dirt, which began as the dirt version of the Japan Cup in 2000 at Tokyo Racecourse held over the 2,100-meter left-handed course until 2007, was temporarily shifted to Nakayama Racecourse over the 1,800-meter right-handed course in 2002, then held at Hanshin Racecourse, also a right-handed track and over 1,800 meters, between 2008 and 2013. The G1 dirt race continues as one of four G1 events comprising the Japan Autumn International (JAI) along with the Queen Elizabeth II Cup (G1, 2,200m), the Mile Championship (G1, 1,600m) and the Japan Cup (G1, 2,400m).
Lord Sterling (USA, by Black Tie Affair), who finished third in the inaugural year, was one of the first foreign contenders, while Fleetstreet Dancer (USA, by Smart Strike) became the first foreign winner in 2003. In the past, 28 runners from not only North America but also from France, Germany, Great Britain and Hong Kong have participated in the race. Imperative (USA, by Bernardini), winner of the 2014 Charles Town Classic Stakes (G2, dirt, 1,800m) and third-place finisher both in the Gold Cup at Santa Anita Stakes (G1, dirt, 2,000m) and the Pacific Classic Stakes (G1, AW, 2,000m), finished 15th in a field of 16 last year.
This year’s race welcomed one overseas contender—the first from Hong Kong in 13 years—Gun Pit came off three consecutive victories with seven wins out of seven starts over all-weather track at Sha Tin.
Last year, Hokko Tarumae claimed his long-awaited first JRA-G1 victory in the race after two consecutive third-place finishes in the two previous Japan Cup Dirt attempts. The son of King Kamehameha went on to win the year-end 2014 Tokyo Daishoten (G1, dirt, 2,000m), defended his title in the 2015 Kawasaki Kinen (dirt, 2,100m) in his kick-off start this year, finished fifth in his second challenge in the Dubai World Cup (G1, dirt, 2,000m) and then marked his ninth G1 title in the Teio Sho (dirt, 2,000m) in June before attempting to defend his title and reach a milestone of 10 G1 victories in this race.
Other contenders included five horses coming off their runs in the JBC Classic (dirt, 2,000m) held at NAR (National Association of Racing; local public racing) Ohi Racecourse on November 3: Winner Copano Rickey who also claimed the February Stakes (G1, dirt, 1,600m) was a disappointing 12th-place finish last year despite being posted race favorite; up-and-coming gelding Sound True finished second following a win in the Nippon TV Hai (dirt, 1,800m); Hokko Tarumae finished third; 2012 Japan Cup Dirt winner Nihonpiro Ours and Grand City were eighth and tenth, respectively in the JBC Classic.
Two female horses came off the JBC Sprint (dirt, 1,200m) and JBC Ladies’ Classic (dirt, 1,800m) also held at Ohi on the same day as the JBC Classic: Corin Berry claimed her first G1 title in the JBC Sprint and Sambista, last year’s fourth-place finisher in the Champions Cup, was runner-up in the JBC Ladies’ Classic.
Four runners came off the Miyako Stakes (G3, dirt, 1,800m) held at Kyoto Racecourse on November 8: Winner Roi Jardin marked his first grade-race victory to obtain his ticket to race in the Champions Cup; 2012 Tokyo Daishoten winner Roman Legend was third and also third in last year’s Champions Cup; fifth-place finisher Kurino Star O had marked his third grade-race victory in the Antares Stakes (G3, dirt, 1,800m) in April; three-year-old Danon Liberty, who had just switched to dirt this summer, finished sixth.
Two runners coming off the Musashino Stakes (G3, dirt, 1,600m) held at Tokyo Racecourse on November 14 were this year’s Japan Dirt Derby (dirt, 2,000m) victor Nonkono Yume who won his first challenge against older horses while carrying 58kg and 2013 February Stakes champion Grape Brandy who was fifth in the race.
Other contenders were 2011-13 Japan Cup Dirt runner-up Wonder Acute who marked his third G1 win in the Kashiwa Kinen (dirt, 1,600m) in May and was third in the Mile Championship Nambu Hai (dirt, 1,600m) on October 12 and last year’s Champions Cup runner-up Namura Victor who came off a third-place finish in the Sirius Stakes (G3, dirt, 2,000m) held at Hanshin Racecourse on October 3.

Champions Cup (G1) related contents