2022 News

March 23, 2022


March 2022
The Japan Racing Association

Exclusive Topics for Horse Racing in Japan - Spring Edition -

The JRA’s 2022 horse racing season will start in earnest with the three-year-old classic trials in March as established horses begin to prepare towards the spring G1 events. In this Spring edition of our international newsletter, we are pleased to update you on the progress of last year’s stars and this season’s key runners, part of our ongoing effort to support your reporting of JRA events.


New Overseas Challenges Following a Historic 2021

While the five overseas G1 triumphs by Japanese horses in 2021 fell short of the eight-win mark achieved in 2019, history-making achievements were recorded nonetheless. Loves Only You (JPN, M6, by Deep Impact; retired) became the first Japanese horse to win three G1 titles abroad in the same year: the Queen Elizabeth II Cup (2,000m), the Hong Kong Cup (2,000m) and the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (2,200m), the last of which was also the first Breeders’ Cup title ever won by a Japanese horse. What’s more, Marche Lorraine (JPN, M6, by Orfevre) followed with a second title for Japan just two hours later, taking home the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (dirt, 1,800m) as the first Japanese horse to win a G1 dirt race in the United States. Besides these notable feats, Glory Vase (JPN, H7, by Deep Impact) contributed with his second Hong Kong Vase (2,400m) victory after 2019, rounding out Japan’s five G1 victories for the year.

Twelve Japanese horses made their first overseas endeavors this year in the Saudi Cup meeting at King Abdulaziz Racetrack on February 26. Last year’s Japan Cup (G1, 2,400m) runner-up Authority (JPN, H5, by Orfevre) won his fourth grade-race title with a wire-to-wire 1-1/4-length victory in the Neom Turf Cup (G3, 2,100m). Songline (JPN, F4, by Kizuna), who claimed her first grade-race title in the 2021 Fuji Stakes (G2, 1,600m), won the 1351 Turf Sprint (G3, 1,351m) by taking command 200 meters out and then rallying with two other foes before prevailing by a neck. 2020 NHK Mile Cup (G1, 1,600m) champion Lauda Sion (JPN, H5, by Real Impact) followed in fourth while last year’s Prix de la Foret (G1, 1,400m) third-place finisher Entscheiden (JPN, H7, by Deep Impact) finished 12th.

Stay Foolish (JPN, H7, by Stay Gold) came off a fifth-place finish in the Hong Kong Vase last December for another stint abroad in the Red Sea Turf Handicap (G3, 3,000m). The son of Stay Gold dominated from start to finish to win by an impressive 4-1/4 lengths, landing his first win in over three years since the 2018 Kyoto Shimbun Hai (G2, 2,200m). Dancing Prince (JPN, H6, by Pas de Trois), who came off a G3 win in the Capella Stakes (G3, dirt, 1,200m) last December, won easily from wire-to-wire by 5-3/4-lengths to mark Japan’s fourth victory in the Riyadh Dirt Sprint (G3, dirt, 1,200m). Chain of Love (JPN, M5, by Heart’s Cry), who switched from turf to dirt last December and quickly scored a win and a third before her Saudi challenge, finished third while Copano Kicking (USA, G7, by Spring At Last), who was aiming for a repeat win in this race, disappointed to fourth. All four winners were ridden by Christophe Lemaire.

Other races held that day included the Saudi Derby (G3, dirt, 1,600m). Attempting to give Japan its third consecutive title were both Sekifu (JPN, C3, by Henny Hughes), the Hyogo Junior Grand Prix (dirt, 1,400m) winner, and Consigliere (JPN, C3, by Drefong), who was coming off two wins in as many starts on dirt, but they finished second and third, respectively. Separately, in the Saudi Cup (G1, dirt, 1,800m), Marche Lorraine finished the final start of her career in sixth while T O Keynes (JPN, H5, by Sinister Minister), winner of the 2021 Champions Cup (G1, dirt, 1,800m) and last year’s Best Dirt Horse, finished eighth.

Authority, Lauda Sion, Entscheiden, Stay Foolish, Chain of Love and Sekifu have all been transferred to Dubai for events at Meydan Racecourse. Stay Foolish will start in the Dubai Gold Cup (G2, 3,200m), Lauda Sion and Entscheiden in the Al Quoz Sprint (G1, 1,200m), Sekifu in the UAE Derby (G2, dirt, 1,900m), Chain of Love in the Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1, dirt, 1,200m), and Authority in the Dubai Sheema Classic (G1, 2,410m), all on March 26.

Those traveling from Saudi Arabia for the Dubai World Cup Day will be joined by 16 other runners from Japan. Chuwa Wizard (JPN, H7, by King Kamehameha) will return for another challenge in the Dubai World Cup (G1, dirt, 2,000m) after finishing second last year. The son of King Kamehameha was well beaten to third, 6-3/4 lengths behind winner T O Keyne, in the Champions Cup in December, but he regained his form and started this season with an overwhelming 4-length victory in the Kawasaki Kinen (dirt, 2,100m) on February 2 before departing for Dubai.

Aiming for the Dubai Sheema Classic (G1, 2,410m) title will be Shahryar (JPN, C4, by Deep Impact). The Deep Impact colt was third in his first G1 challenge against his seniors, the Japan Cup, where the 2021 Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby, G1, 2,400m) victor lost his rhythm when a rival lugged in towards him at the first corner. Although he regained his momentum to rally briefly with Contrail (JPN, H5, by Deep Impact; retired) in the homestretch, he was unable to sustain his bid and dropped back, finishing three lengths behind the winner and 1-1/2 lengths behind runner-up Authority. The defeat may have been an aftereffect from his previous start in the Kobe Shimbun Hai (G2, 2,400m) in September, where he had a strenuous trip over extremely heavy going and finished fourth, but since then he had been given plenty of rest towards his four-year-old debut in Dubai.

Also entered in the Dubai Sheema Classic is Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks, G1, 2,400m) winner Uberleben (JPN, F4, by Gold Ship), who kicked off her four-year-old campaign this year in the Kyoto Kinen (G2, 2,200m) on February 13, where she chased the leaders in third position early but finished fifth, unable to display her good turn of foot that helped her to sixth against older G1 foes in the Japan Cup. Glory Vase, who claimed his second Hong Kong Vase title last December, made his second trip to Dubai for his 2022 debut in the Dubai Sheema Classic, a race in which he was to run before it was cancelled due to COVID-19 in 2020. He will be joined by Stella Veloce (JPN, C4, by Bago), who last year finished within fourth in four G1 events—the Triple Crown and the Arima Kinen (G1, 2,500m) and then kicked off the current season with a runner-up in the Nikkei Shinshun Hai (G2, 2,200m) on January 16.

Three Japanese runners will contest the Dubai Turf (G1, 1,800m) this year. Last year’s NHK Mile Cup champion Schnell Meister (GER, C4, by Kingman) proved competitive against older G1-caliber by finishing third in the following Yasuda Kinen (G1, 1,600m) and then second in the Mile Championship (G1, 1,600m). Schnell Meister could be JRA’s next star miler, taking over for 2020-21 Best Sprinter or Miler Gran Alegria (JPN, M6, by Deep Impact; retired), and the Kingman colt also handled extra distance when claiming the Mainichi Okan (G2, 1,800m) last fall. Vin de Garde (JPN, H6, by Deep Impact) ran in the Breeders’Cup Mile (G1, 1,600m) and the Hong Kong Mile (G1, 1,600m) last fall, finishing 12th and sixth, respectively. He is hoped to improve on his runner-up effort in last year’s Dubai Turf. Panthalassa (JPN, H5, by Lord Kanaloa) claimed his second graded title in the Nakayama Kinen (G2, 1,800m) on February 27, which followed a triumph in the Fukushima Kinen (G3, 2,000m) last fall. The speedy son of Lord Kanaloa has made all in four of his five career victories and is expected to play a key role in the coming Dubai Turf.

The Dubai Golden Shaheen will feature Red le Zele (JPN, H6, by Lord Kanaloa), second last year, along with Chain of Love. The son of Lord Kanaloa scored a victory in the JBC Sprint (dirt, 1,400m) last November and went to post as race favorite in the February Stakes (G1, dirt, 1,600m), but the track condition and race development favored the front runners, so he was unable to threaten from racing mid-field and finished sixth.

Other Japanese runners scheduled to start in Dubai include, beginning with the Godolphin Mile (G2, dirt, 1,600m), Bathrat Leon (JPN, C4, by Kizuna), 2021 New Zealand Trophy (G2, 1,600m) victor, Full Flat (USA, H5, by Speightstown), winner of the 2020 Saudi Derby, and Soliste Thunder (JPN, H7, by Toby's Corner), fourth-place finisher in the February Stakes. In the Dubai Gold Cup it will be Veloce Oro (JPN, C4, by Gold Ship), who is coming off a fifth-place finish in the Diamond Stakes (G3, 3,400m) on February 19. Finally, the UAE Derby will host Reiwa Homare (JPN, C3, by Deep Brillante), runner-up to Sekifu in the Nadeshiko Sho (dirt, 1,400m) as well as Combustion (JPN, C3, by Discreet Cat) and Crown Pride (JPN, C3, by Reach the Crown), first and sixth, respectively, in the Hyacinth Stakes (Listed, dirt, 1,600m) on February 20.

Horses nominated to run in the Triple Crown in the U.S. were announced in February. While the actual runners among the registered 21 horses are yet to be determined, the list includes the aforementioned Consigliere and Sekifu as well as Jasper Great (USA, C3, by Arrogate), who finished tenth last year in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1, dirt, 1,700m).


Spring G1 Campaign for Four-Year-Olds and Up in Japan

With leading horses such as Contrail and Chrono Genesis (JPN, M6, by Bago) having retired from racing as of the end of the previous season, 2021 Horse of the Year Efforia (JPN, C4, by Epiphaneia) will be the focus of this year’s middle-distance spring campaign for four-year-olds and up. The colt displayed a powerful three-length win in the first leg of the Triple Crown, the Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas, G1, 2,000m). Although beaten by a nose in the following Tokyo Yushun, he turned in a marvelous autumn campaign by prevailing over older rivals in both the Tenno Sho (Autumn) (G1, 2,000m) and the year-end Arima Kinen (G1, 2,500m). He will spend his spring campaign in Japan, starting off with the Osaka Hai (G1, 2,000m) on April 3 before he is likely committed to the Takarazuka Kinen (G1, 2,200m) on June 26.

Danon the Kid (JPN, C4, by Just a Way), the 2020 Best Two-Year-Old Colt, turned in a promising 1-1/4-length third in last autumn’s Mile Championship, but then he finished seventh after a poor break in his kick-off start of the season, the Nakayama Kinen. The son of Just a Way was expected to make a bid in the Dubai Turf and then run in the Osaka Hai afterwards but it was announced that the colt will start in the Milers Cup (G2, 1,600m) on April 24 instead.

Lei Papale (JPN, M5, by Deep Impact), last year’s Osaka Hai champion, scored a good third in her next start, the Takarazuka Kinen, but failed to maintain form in her following three races, scoring no higher than a fourth-place finish. In her first start of this season, the five-year-old mare turned in a runner-up effort in the Kinko Sho (G2, 2,000m) on March 13. The winner, Jack d’Or (JPN, C4, by Maurice), led wire-to-wire with recording-breaking speed in his first graded challenge, while 2021 Queen Elizabeth II Cup (G1, 2,200m) victor Akai Ito (JPN, M5, by Kizuna) followed in third.

This year’s Osaka Hai lineup will also include King of Koji (JPN, H6, by Lord Kanaloa), African Gold (JPN, G7, by Stay Gold) and Arrivo (JPN, C4, by Duramente), respective victors of the American Jockey Club Cup (G2, 2,2000m) on January 23, the Kyoto Kinen (G2, 2,200m) on February 13, and the Kokura Daishoten (G3, 1,800m) on February 20. Hishi Iguazu (JPN, H6, by Heart’s Cry), runner-up in the 2021 Hong Kong Cup (G1, 2,000m), Win Marilyn (JPN, M5, by Screen Hero), a three-time G2 winner, Makahiki (JPN, H9, by Deep Impact), the 2016 Tokyo Yushun champion, Stellaria (JPN, F4, by Kizuna), runner-up in the 2021 Queen Elizabeth II Cup, and Red Genesis (JPN, C4, by Deep Impact), last year’s Kyoto Shimbun Hai (G2, 2,200m) victor, will be at the starting gate as well.

The Tenno Sho (Spring) (G1, 3,200m) on May 1 will crown a new champion stayer now that with last year’s victor, World Premiere (JPN, H6, by Deep Impact), has been sent to stud. Last season’s Tenno Sho (Spring) runner-up, Deep Bond (JPN, H5, by Kizuna), was sent to France thereafter and scored a gate-to-wire victory in the Prix Foy (G2, 2,400m), but he followed up with a disappointing last in the following Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1, 2,400m). After recovering from his overseas endeavor, he threatened Efforia in the Arima Kinen to finish a good 3/4-length second. The five-year-old stayer kicked off the 2022 season by defending his Hanshin Daishoten (G2, 3,000m) title on March 20 by a 3/4-length margin and is headed for the Tenno Sho (Spring) with high hopes of scoring his first G1 victory.

T O Royal (JPN, C4, by Leontes), who claimed his fourth consecutive win in the G3 Diamond Stakes in mid-February, will also appear in this year’s Tenno Sho (Spring) after making his first G1 bid in the Osaka Hai. The starters in the Nikkei Sho (G2, 2,500m) on March 26 may include possible Tenno Sho (Spring) candidates such as 2021 Kikuka Sho champion Titleholder (JPN, C4, by Duramente), and 2021 Stayers Stakes (G2 3,600m) victor Divine Force (JPN, H6, by Workforce).

This year’s Victoria Mile (G1, 1,600m) on May 16, open to fillies and mares four-years-old and up, will feature a number of strong runners, including Lotus Land (USA, M5 by Point of Entry), who won her second graded title in the Kyoto Himba Stakes (G3, 1,400m) on February 19. She will test her sprinter talent in the Takamatsunomiya Kinen (G1, 1,200m) on March 27 before her first Victoria Mile challenge. Kurino Premium (JPN, M5, by Orfevre), who claimed the Nakayama Himba Stakes (G3, 1,800m) on March 12 as the second longest shot on the board, is another likely Victoria Mile candidate.

Also running in the Hanshin Himba Stakes (G2, 1,600m) on April 9, the Victoria Mile’s main prep-race, will be Akaitorino Musume (JPN, F4, by Deep Impact) and Andvaranaut (JPN, F4, by King Kamehameha), respectively the winner and third-place finisher in the 2021 Shuka Sho (G1, 2,000m). Magic Castle (JPN, M5, by Deep Impact), third last year, will make another attempt.

The Victoria Mile field might also include Resistencia (JPN, M5, by Daiwa Major), the 2019 Best Two-Year-Old Filly who will run her first race of the season in the Takamatsunomiya Kinen, Fine Rouge (JPN, F4, by Kizuna), the 2021 Shuka Sho runner-up, and Sodashi (JPN, F4, by Kurofune), the 2021 Best Three-Year-Old Filly and third in the February Stakes, as well as the aforementioned Songline and Lei Papale.

Although this year’s Yasuda Kinen (G1, 1,600m) will lack its previous two winners—Gran Alegria in 2020 and Danon Kingly (JPN, H6, by Deep Impact; retired) in 2021—it could include prominent milers such as Schnell Meister and Danon the Kid, plus two Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes (G1, 1,600m) champions—Salios (JPN, H5, by Heart’s Cry; 2019) and Grenadier Guards (JPN, C4, by Frankel; 2020), both of whom will commence the current season in the Takamatsunomiya Kinen. They also could be joined by Elusive Panther (JPN, C4, by Heart's Cry), who claimed his fourth consecutive Tokyo Shimbun Hai (G3, 1,600m) on February 6.

Undoubtedly, the highlight of steeplechase racing this spring will be the Nakayama Grand Jump (J-G1, 4,250m) on April 19, where renowned Oju Chosan (JPN, H11, by Stay Gold), a four-time Best Steeplechase Horse, will attempt to claim his sixth title. The 2021 Nakayama Daishogai (J-G1, 4,100m) champion commenced this season with a third in the Hanshin Spring Jump (J-G2, 3,900m) on March 12, when he ran close to the pace throughout until tiring and giving up the runner-up position in the last 100 meters. With defending champion Meisho Dassai (JPN, H9, by Suzuka Mambo) absent due to sustaining a ligament injury (desmitis) to his left foreleg last fall, the race was claimed by A Shin Click (JPN, H8, by Rulership), who notched his first graded title and third consecutive win.


Three-Year-Old Classic Hopefuls

This year’s three-year-old classics will commence with the filly’s Oka Sho (Japanese 1000 Guineas, G1, 1,600m) on April 10 and the Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas, G1, 2,000m) for males one week later.

Circle of Life (JPN, F3, by Epiphaneia), winner of the 2021 Hanshin Juvenile Fillies (G1, 1,600m) and last year’s Best Two-Year-Old Filly, kicked off her three-year-old season with a third in the Tulip Sho (G2, 1,600m) on March 5, the main trial race towards the Oka Sho. Also earning tickets to the Oka Sho were winner Namur (JPN, F3, by Harbinger), who landed her first graded victory and previously was fourth in the Hanshin Juvenile Fillies, and runner-up Pin High (JPN, F3, by Mikki Isle). In fifth was Water Navillera (JPN, F3, by Silver State), who was third in the Hanshin Juvenile Fillies. The Hanshin Juvenile Fillies runner-up, Lovely Your Eyes (JPN, F3, by Logotype), will head directly to the Oka Sho.

The first leg of the fillies’ Triple Crown will also feature runners who performed well in two additional trials on March 13: winner Cross Majesty (JPN, F3, by Dee Majesty) and runner-up Raspberry Mousse (JPN, F3, by Rulership) in the Anemone Stakes (Listed, 1,600m), and Sublime Anthem (JPN, F3, by Lord Kanaloa), Namura Clair (JPN, F3, by Mikki Isle) and Anegohada (JPN, F3, by Kizuna), the top three finishers in that order in the Fillies’ Revue (G2, 1,400m).

Other notable runners likely to appear in the Oka Sho are Lilac (JPN, F3, by Orfevre), Alluring Way (JPN, F3, by Just a Way) and Presage Lift (JPN, F3, by Harbinger), respective winners of the Fairy Stakes (G3, 1,600m) on January 10, the Elfin Stakes (Listed, 1,600m) on February 5 and the Queen Cup (G3, 1,600m) on February 12.

Meanwhile, 2021 Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes (G1, 1,600m) winner and Best Two-Year-Old Colt Do Deuce (JPN, C3, by Heart's Cry) commenced his three-year-old season with a second in the Yayoi Sho Deep Impact Kinen (G2, 2,000m) on March 6, the main trial race towards the Satsuki Sho. The winner, Ask Victor More (JPN, C3, by Deep Impact), also earned his ticket to the Satsuki Sho, as did third-place finisher Born This Way (JPN, C3, by Heart’s Cry). Kyoto Nisai Stakes (G3, 2,000m) winner Justin Rock (JPN, C3, by Leontes) was fourth, and Kisaragi Sho (G3, 2,000m) winner Matenro Leo (JPN, C3, by Heart’s Cry) and Hopeful Stakes (G1, 2,000m) third-place finisher Lagulf (JPN, C3, by Maurice) finished a disappointing 10th and 11th, respectively.

Those who earned Satsuki Sho berths in other trial races included Desierto (JPN, C3, by Drefong) and Verona City (JPN, C3, by Epiphaneia), who were first and second, respectively, in the Wakaba Stakes (Listed, 2,000m) on March 19, and Be Astonished (JPN. C3, by American Patriot), Arrival (JPN, C3, by Harbinger) and Satono Helios (JPN, C3, by Epiphaneia), the top three finishers in that order in the Spring Stakes (G2, 1,800m) on March 20. Arrival, however, is likely to pass up this first leg of the classics as his connections have always given the colt sufficient time between the races to recover his legs.

The first leg of the Triple Crown field also is likely to include Killer Ability (JPN, C3, by Deep Impact), Equinox (JPN, C3, by Kitasan Black) and Onyankopon (JPN, C3, by Eishin Flash), who came off respective wins in the year-end Hopeful Stakes, last November’s Tokyo Sports Hai Nisai Stakes (G2, 1,800m), and this January’s Keisei Hai (G3, 2,000m). Two more Satsuki Sho possibilities are Danon Beluga (JPN, C3, by Heart's Cry) and Geoglyph (JPN, C3, by Drefong), who were first and second, respectively, in the Kyodo News Hai (G3, 1,800m) in February.

The NHK Mile Cup on May 8 will include runners from two trial races—the New Zealand Trophy (G2, 1,600m) on April 9 and the Arlington Cup (G3, 1,600m) a week later—as well as Oka Sho and Satsuki Sho runners who prefer the mile distance instead of stepping up to the 2,400-meter Yushun Himba and Tokyo Yushun.

Loves Only You in the 2021
Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf
Marche Lorraine
in the 2021 Breeders’ Cup Distaff
Glory Vase
in the 2021 Hong Kong Vase
Authority in the 2022 Neom Turf Cup
in the 2022 1351 Turf Sprint
Stay Foolish
in the 2022 Red Sea Turf Handicap
Dancing Prince
in the 2022 Riyadh Dirt Sprint
Lauda Sion in the 2020 NHK Mile Cup
Chuwa Wizard
in the 2020 Champions Cup
in the 2021 Tokyo Yushun
in the 2021 Yushun Himba
Schnell Meister
in the 2021 NHK Mile Cup
Red le Zele in the 2021 JBC Sprint
Efforia in the 2021 Arima Kinen
Danon the Kid
in the 2020 Hopeful Stakes
Lei Papale
in the 2021 Osaka Hai
Jack d’Or
in the 2022 Kinko Sho
Akai Ito
in the 2021 Queen Elizabeth II Cup
Deep Bond
in the 2022 Hanshin Daishoten
Titleholder in the 2021 Kikuka Sho
Akaitorino Musume
in the 2021 Shuka Sho
in the 2019 Hanshin Juvenile Fillies
in the 2021 Oka Sho
in the 2019 Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes
Grenadier Guards
in the 2020 Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes
Oju Chosan
in the 2021 Nakayama Daishogai
Circle of Life
in the 2021 Hanshin Juvenile Fillies
in the 2022 Tulip Sho
Water Navillera
in the 2021 Fantasy Stakes
Sublime Anthem
in the 2022 Fillies’ Revue
in the 2022 Fairy Stakes
Presage Lift
in the 2022 Queen Cup
Do Deuce
in the 2021 Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes
Ask Victor More in the
2022 Yayoi Sho Deep Impact Kinen
Justin Rock
in the 2021 Kyoto Nisai Stakes
Matenro Leo
in the 2022 Kisaragi Sho
Be Astonished
in the 2022 Spring Stakes
Killer Ability in the 2021 Hopeful Stakes
Equinox in the
2021 Tokyo Sports Hai Nisai Stakes
in the 2022 Keisei Hai
Danon Beluga
in the 2022 Kyodo News Hai