The Japan Racing Association
Exclusive Topics for JAPAN AUTUMN INTERNATIONAL 2021 - 4th Edition -
Preparations for the Champions Cup (G1, dirt, 1,800m) at Chukyo Racecourse on December 5 are in full swing as Japan’s top dirt specialists get ready to launch their fall seasons.
Defending champion Chuwa Wizard (JPN, H6, by King Kamehameha) made an overseas endeavor earlier this year in the Dubai World Cup (G1, dirt, 2,000m), where he held off the fast-closing Magny Cours in a good runner-up effort but was no match for winner Mystic Guide. After finishing sixth in the Teio Sho (dirt, 2,000m), his first start after returning to Japan, a chip fracture in his right foreleg forced him to rest. Returning in the JBC Classic (dirt, 2,100m) five months later, he accelerated well between horses and into contention down the stretch to finish 1.5 lengths back in third. He is now looking to score a repeat victory in this year’s Champions Cup. Also in the JBC Classic, Funabashi-based Mutually (JPN, H5, by Pyro) held on robustly to become the first NAR-trained horse to claim this title. A half-length behind in second was Omega Perfume (JPN, H6, by Swept Overboard), three-time (2018-’20) winner of the Tokyo Daishoten (G1, dirt, 2,000m). Both Mutually and Omega Perfume are headed for the Tokyo Daishoten on December 29, where the latter will attempt a repeat victory.
Other JBC Classic contenders entered in the Champions Cup are fourth-place finisher T O Keynes (JPN, C4, by Sinister Minister), who entered with a three-race winning streak from the beginning of the season, including the Antares Stakes (G3, dirt, 1,800m) and the Teio Sho, where he turned in the fastest last charges in both; fifth-place K T Brave (JPN, H8, by Admire Max), who won the JBC Classic title in 2018; and seventh-place Danon Pharaoh (JPN, C4, by American Pharoah), last year’s Japan Dirt Derby champion. Also, sixth-place finisher and Funabashi-based Casino Fountain (JPN, H5, by Casino Drive) will become the first Champions Cup contender affiliated with the National Association of Racing (NAR) since Furioso in 2008.
Champions Cup contenders coming off the Miyako Stakes (dirt, 1,800m, Nov. 7) are winner Meisho Hario (JPN, C4, by Pyro), who stayed strongly to hold off the runner-up by a nose in his first graded challenge; sixth-place Clincher (JPN, H7, by Deep Sky), winner of two graded titles this season; seventh-place Suave Aramis (JPN, H6, by Heart’s Cry), who outdueled Omega Rainbow to notch the G3 Elm Stakes (dirt, 1,700m) in August; and twelfth-place Auvergne (JPN, H5, by Smart Falcon), winner of this year’s Tokai Stakes (G2, dirt, 1,800m) by 1-3/4 lengths in sloppy going.
Air Spinel (JPN, H8, by King Kamehameha), runner-up in this year’s February Stakes (G1, dirt, 1,600m), finished second in the Musashino Stakes (G3, 1,600m), a Champions Cup step race held on November 13. Winner Soliste Thunder (JPN, H6, by Toby’s Corner) kicked into gear in the straight while Air Spinel, who struggled to find room, eventually burst clear and gave chase to finish second by 1-1/4 lengths.
This year’s Champions Cup field will also include Sunrise Hope (JPN, C4, by Majestic Warrior) and Westerlund (JPN, H9, by Neo Universe), the top two finishers in the Sirius Stakes (G3, dirt, 1,900m) on October 2; Inti (JPN, H7, by Came Home), victor in the 2019 February Stakes who is coming off a fourth in the Mile Championship Nambu Hai (dirt, 1,600m); Sunrise Nova (JPN, H7, by Gold Allure), runner-up in the JBC Sprint (dirt, 1,400m) on November 3; and Cafe Pharoah (USA, C4, by American Pharoah), who won this year’s February Stakes and is coming off a ninth in the Hakodate Kinen (G3, 2,000m), his first test on turf.
All of the above notwithstanding, the focus of the 2021 Champions Cup, JRA’s largest dirt event this autumn, will be Sodashi (JPN, F3, by Kurofune). After winning the Hanshin Juvenile Fillies (1,600m) in 2020, the filly went on to score a five-win streak culminating in a course-record triumph in the Oka Sho (Japanese 1000 Guineas, G1, 1,600m) to become JRA’s first all-white horse to claim a G1 title. After an eighth-place finish in the following Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks, G1, 2,400m), she claimed the Sapporo Kinen (G2, 2,000m) against older and male foes, holding off subsequent Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf winner Loves Only You. Thereafter she was heavily favored in the Shuka Sho (G1, 2,000m) but failed to deliver and was beaten to 10th, although possibly due to a gum injury sustained at the Shuko Sho gate that led to bleeding in her mouth. Her connections will now turn to the Champions Cup to test Sodashi, who was sired by 2001 Japan Cup Dirt champion Kurofune and foaled out of Buchiko, owner of four dirt-race wins. The decision to run on dirt was heavily influenced by the impost allowance that she will receive as a three-year-old filly.
Horses registered as substitutes in the Champions Cup include Another Truth (JPN, G7, by I’ll Have Another), Tagano Beauty (JPN, C4, by Henny Hughes) and Kenshinko (JPN, C4, by Pyro).
In the Breeders’ Cup on November 5 and 6 at Del Mar Racetrack in California, Loves Only You (JPN, M5, by Deep Impact) became the first Japanese-trained horse to capture a Breeders’ Cup title by winning the Filly and Mare Turf (G1, 2,200m). Furthermore, Marche Lorraine (JPN, M5, by Orfevre) claimed the Distaff (G1, dirt, 1,800m) at the same venue, marking a memorable and record-breaking day for Japanese horseracing. Loves Only You is headed to the Hong Kong Cup (G1, 2,000m) on December 12, aspiring to claim a second Hong Kong G1 title following a win in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup in April. Eleven other Japanese horses are slated to race in Hong Kong International Races on the same day.
Joining Loves Only You in the Hong Kong Cup, aiming to follow last year’s winner Normcore, are:
Lei Papale (JPN, F4, by Deep Impact), this year’s Osaka Hai (G1, 2,000m) champion, who is coming off a sixth in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup (G1, 2,200m) on November 14.
Hishi Iguazu (JPN, H5, by Heart's Cry), winner of this year’s Nakayama Kinen (G2, 1,800m), who was fifth in the Tenno Sho (Autumn) (G1, 2,000m) on October 31.
Four horses are scheduled to race in the Hong Kong Mile (G1, 1,600m):
Danon Kingly (JPN, H5, by Deep Impact), winner of this year’s Yasuda Kinen (G1, 1,600m) and a close second in his autumn kickoff, the Mainichi Okan (G2, 1,800m) on October 10.
Indy Champ (JPN, H6, by Stay Gold), winner of the 2019 Yasuda Kinen and Mile Championship (G1, 1,600m), who is coming off a well-deserved fourth in the Mile Championship on November 21.
Salios (JPN, C4, by Heart's Cry), the 2019 Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes (G1, 1,600m) champion, who ran in the Mile Championship and finished sixth.
Vin de Garde (JPN, H5, by Deep Impact), runner-up in this year’s Dubai Turf (G1, 1,800m), who flew to Hong Kong from the United States after a disappointing 12th in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1, 1,600m) on November 6.
Those aiming for another Japanese victory in the Hong Kong Sprint (G1, 1,200m) title include:
Danon Smash (JPN, H6, by Lord Kanaloa), defending champion who finished a disappointing sixth in the Sprinters Stakes (G1, 1,200m) on October 3.
Pixie Knight (JPN, C3, by Maurice), the first three-year-old to claim the Sprinters Stakes since Aston Machan in 2007.
Resistencia (JPN, F4, by Daiwa Major), the 2019 Best Two-Year-Old Filly, who was second to Danon Smash in the Takamatsunomiya Kinen (G1, 1,200m) and also second to Pixie Knight in the Sprinters Stakes.
In the Hong Kong Vase (G1, 1,200m), two hoping to repeat a win by Glory Vase in 2019 include:
Glory Vase (JPN, H6, by Deep Impact), the 2019 victor who is coming off a third in the All Comers (G2, 2,200m) on September 26.
Stay Foolish (JPN, H6, by Stay Gold), the 2018 Kyoto Shimbun Hai (G2, 2,200m) winner who was fourth in his previous start, the Fukushima Kinen (G3, 2,000m) on November 14.
in the 2020 Champions Cup
in the 2021 Antares Stakes
in the 2018 JBC Classic
in the 2021 Miyako Stakes
in the 2020 Miyako Stakes
in the 2021 Elm Stakes
in the 2021 Tokai Stakes
in the 2017 Fuji Stakes
in the 2021 Sirius Stakes
in the 2020 Antares Stakes
in the 2019 February Stakes
in the 2020 Musashino Stakes
in the 2021 February Stakes
Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf
in the 2021 Osaka Hai
in the 2021 Nakayama Kinen
in the 2019 Mile Championship
in the 2019 Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes
in the 2020 Fuji Stakes
in the 2021 Takamatsunomiya Kinen
in the 2021 Sprinters Stakes
in the 2019 Hanshin Juvenile Fillies
in the 2019 Hong Kong Vase
in the 2018 Kyoto Shimbun Hai