Tenno Sho (Autumn) (G1) - Preview
Top flight action switches from the west to the east of Japan on Sunday, Oct. 30, when the Tokyo Racecourse is the stage for the Emperor’s Cup, or Tenno Sho, as it is known in Japan. A race that is run twice a year, this will be the 77th autumn race and the 154th Tenno Sho overall.
There have been 15 nominations for the race this week, and some of the best middle-distance horses currently racing in Japan, and which have represented Japan overseas, are expected to clash over the 2,000 meters on turf. It has been an international race since 2005, and the hope was for the United Kingdom’ s Tryster to take on the race, but the 5-year-old gelding has sustained a leg injury and will have to miss the challenge, leaving the Japanese contingent to fight it out.
Lead-up races to the Tenno Sho (Autumn) have included the Grade 2 Kyoto Daishoten, Grade 2 Sapporo Kinen, and the most recognized trial of them all, Grade 2 Mainichi Okan, which was run at Tokyo earlier this month over 1,800 meters, and generally holds the key to how the Tenno Sho turns out. There are no 3-year-olds amongst the nominations this time, and just one filly in Rouge Buck. The last five years the race has been run on firm ground, and four first favorites have won in the past decade, while five 5-year-olds and four 4-year-olds have won in that latter period.
The record time for the race is held by Tosen Jordan, who, as a 5-year-old, won in a time of 1 minute, 56.1 seconds in 2011. There is a cool 150 million yen check to the winner, and post time on Sunday will be 15:40 local time.
Here’s a look at some of the contenders for the Tenno Sho (Autumn):
Maurice: The 5-year-old by Screen Hero needs no introduction, and the highlight of his career so far has probably been the seven straight wins he managed to string together. He was the JRA Horse of the Year in 2015 and has four Grade 1 titles to his name, including two in Hong Kong. He is nine wins from 16 starts, but has only taken on 2,000 meters once, which was in his latest race, Grade 2 Sapporo Kinen in August, when he finished second. Trainer Noriyuki Hori is also likely to have Satono Crown in the line-up, and the two horses have reportedly been working well together in training. Another big plus will be the anticipated services of Ryan Moore aboard Maurice, as the trainer bids for his 10th Grade 1 in Japan.
A Shin Hikari: A dual Grade 1 winner, the 5-year-old by Deep Impact seemingly had the whole world at his feet until finishing sixth at Royal Ascot this summer in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes, when he started a warm favorite. Now back in Japan, everything will be more familiar to him, as he once more bids to set off strongly from the gates and give all the other runners a real run for their money. He has raced four times at Tokyo, has won three times and missed the board once, which happens to be last year’s Tenno Sho (Autumn). Regular jockey Yutaka Take is expected to be in the saddle again.
Rouge Buck: The only filly to be nominated, the 4-year-old by Manhattan Cafe is looking for her first Grade 1 win, after finishing second in the Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks) in 2015. She is coming off a narrow win in the Grade 2 Mainichi Okan at Tokyo earlier this month, and boasts five wins from 11 career starts. She races in the U.Carrot Farm colors and looks set to be ridden by Japan’s leading jockey, Keita Tosaki.
Real Steel: The 4-year-old by Deep Impact scored his first – and much-anticipated – G1 win in the Dubai Turf for his trainer, Yoshito Yahagi, who’s currently the leading trainer in Japan. From a 10-race career, Real Steel has won three times, placed second four times, and has been unplaced just twice, once when running fourth in the Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby) in 2015. Jockey Mirco Demuro has been working the horse in training, and the new combination is expected to come together on Sunday for the big race.
Logotype: Three-time Grade 1 winner Logotype was a 36-1 winner of this year’s Yasuda Kinen, and the 6-year-old Shadai Farm bred horse is coming off an eighth-place finish in the Grade 2 Mainichi Okan behind Rouge Buck. This might not be his ideal distance, but he has the capability to surprise, as the fans saw at Tokyo in June.
Lovely Day: Trainer Yasutoshi Ikee is still in the limelight after Satono Diamond’s impressive win in the Kikuka Sho (Japanese St. Leger) last Sunday, and he’ll be hoping Lovely Day can follow up last year’s win in the Tenno Sho (Autumn) too. The highlights on the 6-year-old’s resume includes a prize money tally of 798 million yen in JRA races, and a gallant third place finish in last year’s Japan Cup. Lovely Day, together with stablemates Satono Noblesse and Satono Aladdin, were the first to get out onto the woodchip track at the Ritto Training Center for work on Oct. 20. Jockey Christophe Lemaire reports Lovely Day “to be tough as usual.”
Ambitious: A 4-year-old colt by Deep Impact, he is a horse that lives up to his name, and is looking to improve on his fifth-place finish in the race last year as a 3-year-old. As he matures, this looks like a real possibility, and with his second-place finish in the recent Grade 2 Mainichi Okan, the colt looks to have a good chance here. He is owned and bred by Hideko Kondo, trained by Hidetaka Otonashi, and respected jockey, Norihiro Yokoyama, is expected to partner with him once again.
Staphanos: Another of Japan’s overseas representatives, 5-year-old Staphanos ran twice in Hong Kong in 2015, and is looking to find just a bit more to give him his fifth career win here. He has won on yielding ground, and has won once at Tokyo in four starts at the track. He is yet another horse by Deep Impact, who as a sire is looking for his seventh Grade 1 this year in Japan, as well as a hat trick of them after the Shuka Sho (Vivlos) and Kikuka Sho (Satono Diamond) results.