The Japan Racing Association
Exclusive Topics for JAPAN AUTUMN INTERNATIONAL 2020 - 4th Edition -
Preparations for the Champions Cup (G1, dirt, 1,800m) at Chukyo Racecourse on December 6 are in full swing as Japan's top dirt specialists get ready to kick off their fall season.
2019 Best Dirt Horse Chrysoberyl (JPN, C4, by Gold Allure) kicked off this season overseas in the Saudi Cup (dirt, 1,800m), where he missed his break and finished more than five lengths behind in seventh. His next intended start in Dubai was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so the son of Gold Allure (JPN, by Sunday Silence) made his comeback start in June in the Teio Sho (dirt, 2,000m), where he regained form by taking command from third position 200 meters out to win comfortably by two lengths ahead of runner-up Omega Perfume (JPN, H5, by Swept Overboard). After a four-month break, the 4-year-old colt continued with another impressive victory in the JBC Classic (dirt, 2,000m) on November 3, where he out-finished Omega Perfume by 2-1/2 lengths. Many hope the multiple G1 champion will score a repeat victory in the upcoming Champions Cup to extend his winning streak in Japan to nine before he makes his second overseas challenge in Saudi Arabia next year.
Omega Perfume, back-to-back winner of the Tokyo Daishoten (G1, dirt, 2,000m) in 2018 and 2019, has finished within the money in all of his right-handed events but is winless going the opposite direction, including fifth and sixth in the Champions Cup in 2018 and 2019, respectively. His connections have decided not to run him in the dirt G1 this year and instead concentrate on a possible third victory in the Tokyo Daishoten.
Chuwa Wizard (JPN, H5, by King Kamehameha), winner of the 2019 JBC Classic, kicked off this season with a victory in the Kawasaki Kinen (dirt, 2,100m), but was third behind Chrysoberyl and Omega Perfume in both the Teio Sho and the JBC Classic. The son of King Kamehameha (JPN, by Kingmambo) was beaten by two lengths to fourth in last year’s Champions Cup, but in principal the left-handed track should not be a problem as he has not finished out of the money in six other career starts going that direction.
Arctos (JPN, H5, by Admire Aura) scored his first title at the highest level in the Mile Championship Nambu Hai (dirt, 1,600m) on October 12. The son of Admire Aura (JPN, by Agnes Tachyon) has proved useful between 1,400 and 1,600 meters, but now he must negotiate the longer Champions Cup (1,800m), a distance at which he has finished no better than fifth in three starts. Gold Dream (JPN, H7, by Gold Allure) this year finished sixth behind Arctos in the Nambu Hai and has not exceeded this third place finish in the Heian Stakes (G3, dirt, 1,900m) in May, but the 2017 Best Dirt Horse is not to be underestimated in the upcoming dirt G1. In 2017, after coming off three dull efforts, the son of Gold Allure was a lightly regarded eighth favorite in the Champions Cup but he pinned the race favorite with a memorable close for the title. He gave another impressive performance in last year’s Champions Cup, missing by just a neck to Chrysoberyl despite carrying two more kilos. Inti (JPN, H6, by Came Home), who lost a shoe and finished ninth in the Nambu Hai, was third in last year’s Champions Cup but has not marked a win since the 2019 February Stakes (G1, 1,600m). Success in this year’s Champions Cup will likely depend on Inti gaining the front and controlling the pace, his preferred style.
The Musashino Stakes (G3, dirt, 1,600m) on November 14 was won by third favorite Sunrise Nova (JPN, H6, by Gold Allure), a stablemate of Chrysoberyl. The 2019 Mile Championship Nambu Hai victor, whose best score at the JRA-G1 level is a third in the February Stakes this year, will be making his second Champions Cup challenge after finishing sixth in 2018. Time Flyer (JPN, H5, by Heart’s Cry), who won on turf in the 2017 Hopeful Stakes (G1, 2,000m), entered the Musashino Stakes as the race favorite but finished fifth. Second favorite Mozu Ascot (USA, H6, by Frankel), who won this year’s February Stakes victor, disappointed to seventh.
Cafe Pharoah (USA, C3, by American Pharoah) will face Chrysoberyl for the first time as a potential threat in this year’s Champions Cup, having won four out of five starts, including the Unicorn Stakes (G3, dirt, 1,600m) and his latest start, the Sirius Stakes (G3, dirt, 1,900m). His only defeat came in the Japan Dirt Derby (dirt, 2,000m), where he struggled over a deep sand surface at NAR’s Oi Racecourse.
Also facing Chrysoberyl for the first time will be Clincher (JPN, H6, by Deep Sky), who shifted to dirt this year and has registered 1-4-1 and a fourth out of seven starts. The runner-up in the 2017 Kikuka Sho (Japanese St. Leger, G1, 3,000m) and a G2 winner in the 2018 Kyoto Kinen (G2, 2,200m) on turf, he won his first dirt grade title in the Miyako Stakes (G3, dirt, 1,800m) on November 8. The son of Deep Sky (JPN, by Agnes Tachyon) has timed the fastest finishing speeds in five of his seven dirt starts, but will be tested against the top dirt specialists in the Champions Cup.
Other Champions Cup entries include the following:
- Another Truth (JPN, G6, by I’ll Have Another), winner of the Diolite Kinen (dirt, 2,400m) in March, is coming off a fifth in the Nippon TV Hai (dirt, 1,800m) on September 30.
- Air Almas (USA, H5, by Majestic Warrior), victor in the Tokai Stakes (G2, dirt, 1,800m) in January, who also finished fourth in his latest start, the Miyako Stakes.
- Air Spinel (JPN, H7, by King Kamehameha), a three-time graded winner on turf who switched to dirt racing from this season; Meisho Wazashi (JPN, H5, by I’ll Have Another), third-place finisher of the 2019 Sirius Stakes; and Dieu du Vin (JPN, C3, by Declaration of War), a runner-up to Cafe Pharoah in the Unicorn Stakes, who were third, sixth and 14th respectively in the Musashino Stakes.
- Satono Garros (JPN, C4, by Henny Hughes), winner of four starts on dirt between 1,200m and 1,600m, including the Kinshu Stakes (3 Wins Class, dirt, 1,600m) on November 8.
- Satono Titan (JPN, H7, by Symboli Kris S), winner of the 2019 March Stakes (G3, dirt, 1,800m) but 13th in his latest start, the Elm Stakes (G3, dirt, 1,700m).
- Yoshio (JPN, H7, by Johannesburg), who is 6-4-11 out of 67 starts on dirt and is coming off a sixth-place finish in his previous start, the Mercury Cup (dirt, 2,000m) on July 21.
While the pandemic has reduced the number of horses going abroad for international challenges, six Japanese horses will be starting in the Hong Kong International Races at Sha Tin Racecourse on December 13.
Win Bright (JPN, H6, by Stay Gold), who will be the defending champion in this year’s Hong Kong Cup (G1, 2,000m), finished seventh in his kickoff start this year, the Nakayama Kinen (G2, 1,800m, February), but then suffered an infection—seedy toe—in his left front hoof. He made his fall comeback in the Tenno Sho (Autumn) (G1, 2,000m) on November 1 but finished tenth. Danon Premium (JPN, H5, by Deep Impact), Best Two-Year-Old Colt of 2017, will be making his second overseas trip this year, following the Australia’s Queen Elizabeth Stakes (G1, 2,000m, April) in which he finished third. He was fourth in his fall comeback in the Tenno Sho (Autumn), where he set the pace and showed tenacity before being overtaken by the top finishers. Normcore (JPN, M5, by Harbinger), winner of the 2019 Victoria Mile (G1, 1,600m), claimed her fourth graded title in the Sapporo Kinen (G2, 2,000m) in August, but in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup (G1, 2,200m) she tired after setting the pace and disappointed to 16th.
Admire Mars (JPN, C4, by Daiwa Major) aims to return for a repeat victory in the Hong Kong Mile (G1, 1,600m). In the Mile Championship (G1, 1,600m), he assumed command 200 meters out but eventually was out-finished to third by winner Gran Alegria (JPN, F4, by Deep Impact) and defending champion Indy Champ (JPN, H5, by Stay Gold), back a 3/4 length and a neck respectively.Tower of London (JPN, H5, by Raven’s Pass), winner of the Sprinters Stakes (G1, 1,200m) last year, will contest the Hong Kong Sprint (G1, 1,200m), his first start in seven months. The son of Raven’s Pass was unable to live up to expectations as race favorite in both the Takamatsunomiya Kinen (G1, 1,200m) and the Keio Hai Spring Cup (G2, 1,400m), finishing 12th and eighth respectively, both on soft going, and then was sidelined with a hoof problem that prevented him from starting in this year’s Sprinters Stakes. Danon Smash (JPN, H5, by Lord Kanaloa) will make his second challenge in the Hong Kong Sprint after finishing eighth last year. In his last start, the Sprinters Stakes on October 4, he was unable to match winner Gran Alegria but bested the rest of the field for second.
in the 2019 Champions Cup
in the 2019 JBC Classic
in the 2019 Procyon Stakes
in the 2017 Champions Cup
in the 2019 February Stakes
in the 2020 Musashino Stakes
in the 2020 Elm Stakes
in the 2020 February Stakes
in the 2019 Antares Stakes
in the 2020 Tokai Stakes
in the 2017 Fuji Stakes
in the 2020 Sobu Stakes
in the 2020 Seiryu Stakes
in the 2019 March Stakes
in the 2019 Hong Kong Cup
in the 2017 Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes
in the 2019 Victoria Mile
in the 2019 Hong Kong Mile
in the 2019 Sprinters Stakes
in the 2020 Centaur Stakes