The Japan Racing Association
Exclusive Topics for Horse Racing in Japan - Summer Edition -
The JRA, after resuming the acceptance of spectators at its racecourses in March 2021, starting with limited audiences and then gradually eased restrictions, finally welcomed an audience of 60,000 enthusiastic fans to witness the Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby) this May. In more good news, the World All-Star Jockeys series will take place at Sapporo Racecourse in late August for the first time in three years.
Earlier this season, Japanese-bred contenders turned in some outstanding performances overseas. After dominating four races in the Saudi Cup Meeting in February, 22 runners were sent to the Dubai World Cup in the following month and claimed five out of their eight races. Bathrat Leon (JPN, C4, by Kizuna), sent to Europe last season for two G1 mile-race endeavors - the Sussex Stakes on July 27 and the Prix Jacques le Marois on August 14 - won the Godolphin Mile (G2, dirt, 1,600m) in his first attempt on dirt. Crown Pride (JPN, C3, by Reach the Crown), who claimed the UAE Derby (G2, dirt, 1,900m), flew to the United States for the Kentucky Derby (G1, dirt, 2,000m), where he fared prominently early but then faded to 13th.
The connections of the other three Dubai winners have all entered the Prix de l’ Arc de Triomphe (G1, 2,400m) on October 2. Dubai Sheema Classic (G1, 2,410m) champion Shahryar (JPN, C4, by Deep Impact) returned from the Middle East and then went on another overseas campaign. Running in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes (G1, 1,990m) on June 15, he initially sat in second but gradually ran out of steam and ended in fourth in a field of five, slightly better than three other Japanese contenders who had run in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes previously, all finishing sixth.
The respective winners of the Dubai Gold Cup (G2, 3,200m) and the Dubai Turf (G1, 1,800m), Stay Foolish (JPN, H7, by Stay Gold) and Panthalassa (JPN, H5, by Lord Kanaloa), both ran in the Takarazuka Kinen (G1, 2,200m) on June 26 as their first starts back in Japan, finishing ninth and eighth, respectively. While Panthalassa’s schedule has not been announced yet, Stay Foolish will start in the Grand Prix de Deauville (G2, 2,500m) on August 28, prior to the Arc.
The “Grand Prix” Takarazuka Kinen field comprised a stellar lineup that included the top two Tenno Sho (Spring) (G1, 3,200m) finishers - Titleholder (JPN, C4, by Duramente), who won the Tenno Sho in an emphatic seven lengths, and Deep Bond (JPN, H5, by Kizuna) - both of whom are also enroute to the Arc this fall. In the Takarazuka Kinen, Titleholder produced a fast pace in second before taking command in the straight and then romping to a two-length victory in a record-breaking 2:09.7, boosting the decision to send him to France in the fall. Taking the reins will be Kazuo Yokoyama, the Duramente colt’s partner since the yearend Arima Kinen (The Grand Prix). Once in France, the team will focus solely on the Arc. Deep Bond, who finished fourth in the Takarazuka Kinen after running close to Titleholder, will make a back-to-back Arc bid but also will likely skip any prior races in France.
Another Arc candidate is 2021 Best Two-Year-Old Colt Do Deuce (JPN, C3, by Heart’s Cry), who scored a third-place effort in the Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas, G1, 2,000m) and then upped his game to notch the Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby, G1, 2,400m) by a neck after producing a tremendous charge from far behind. Due to concerns about Do Deuce’s laid-back nature, his connections had initially stated that he would avoid all prep races in France, like the others. Thereafter, however, they reversed course to announce that the colt may start in the Prix Niel (G2, 2,400m) on September 11, prior to the Arc, and then possibly go to the United States for the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1, 2,400m) on November 5.
Also targeted at the Arc is last year’s Takarazuka Kinen runner-up Unicorn Lion (IRE, H6, by No Nay Never), who suffered a seedy-toe infection in his hoof and strived to make a comeback in the Procyon Stakes (G3, dirt, 1,700m) on July 10 but finished last. The outcome of his next start, the Sapporo Kinen (G2, 2,000m) on August 21, will largely determine if the Arc remains on his autumn agenda.
Grenadier Guards (JPN, C4, by Frankel), the 2020 Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes (G1, 1,600m) winner, put an end to a previously winless 2021 with his much-awaited second grade-race title, the Hanshin Cup (G2, 1,400m), at the end of the season. After disappointing to 12th in the Takamatsunomiya Kinen (G1, 1,200m), his kickoff start this year, the colt traveled with Shahryar to Great Britain for a second sprint-race endeavor, the Platinum Jubilee Stakes (G1) on June 18, but fizzled to 19th.
Accompanying the aforementioned Bathrat Leon to Great Britain was stablemate King Hermes (JPN, C3, by Lord Kanaloa), who won last year’s Keio Hai Nisai Stakes (G2, 1,400m) and was sixth in the NHK Mile Cup (G1, 1,600m). Making his first bid on foreign turf in Newmarket’s July Cup (G1, 1,200m) on July 9, the Lord Kanaloa colt was prominent early on but was overrun in the last 400 meters and finished 11th. His next start will be the Prix Maurice de Gheest (G1, 1,300m) on August 7.
Other spring G1 winners scheduled to return this summer or fall include:
• Cafe Pharoah (USA, H5, by American Pharoah), the back-to-back victor in the February Stakes (G1, dirt, 1,600m), who made his second turf challenge in the Yasuda Kinen (G1, 1,600m) but disappointed to 17th.
• Naran Huleg (JPN, H6, by Gold Allure), who notched his first graded title this year in the Takamatsunomiya Kinen, tested his strength in the mile-distanced Yasuda Kinen but failed to handle the extra 400 meters and finished ninth. He will prepare for his main autumn target, the Sprinters Stakes (G1, 1,200m, Oct.2), possibly by starting in the Centaur Stakes (G2, 1,200m) three weeks prior on September 11.
• Potager (JPN, H5, by Deep Impact), who claimed his first grade-race victory in the Osaka Hai (G1, 2,000m), was unable to contend in his next start, the Takarazuka Kinen, ending in 11th. He will repeat his 2021 autumn racing schedule and start in the Mainichi Okan (G2, 1,800m) on October 9 and then proceed to the Tenno Sho (Autumn) (G1, 2,000m) on October 30.
• Stars on Earth (JPN, F3, by Duramente) won the Oka Sho (Japanese 1000 Guineas, G1, 1,600m) and then took the second gem of the fillies’ Triple Crown, the Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks, G1, 2,400m), emulating Triple Crown fillies such as Almond Eye and Daring Tact. Unfortunately, the Duramente filly was found to have sustained chip fractures in both forelegs, but it appears she is recovering possibly fast enough for the Shuka Sho (G1, 2,000m) on October 16, so her attempt to sweep the fillies’ Triple Crown still looks promising.
• Oju Chosan (JPN, H11, by Stay Gold), who scored an unprecedented sixth Nakayama Grand Jump (J-G1, 4,250m) triumph in April, is primed to defend his other G1 steeple chase title, the Nakayama Daishogai (J-G1, 4,100m) on December 24 and will probably prep by running in the Tokyo High-Jump (J-G2, 3,110m) on October 16.
• Geoglyph (JPN, C3, by Drefong), this season’s Satsuki Sho champion, failed to handle the extra distance in the following Tokyo Yushun and finished seventh. Diagnosed with a fracture in his right foreleg, he seems to be targeted at the Tenno Sho (Autumn) on October 30 instead of the last leg of the Triple Crown, the Kikuka Sho (Japanese St. Leger, G1, 3,000m) on October 23.
• Danon Scorpion (JPN, C3, by Lord Kanaloa), this year’s NHK Mile Cup winner, will commence his autumn campaign in the Mainichi Okan or the Fuji Stakes (G2, 1,600m) on October 22 and then point towards the Mile Championship (G1, 1,600m) on November 20 in hopes of landing his second G1 and third grade-race title.
• Sodashi (JPN, F4, by Kurofune), winner of three G1 events - most recently the Victoria Mile (1,600m) in May - will pursue repeat victory in the Sapporo Kinen (G2, 2,000m) on August 21 and then aim for another mile G1 title in the Mile Championship.
• Songline (JPN, F4, by Kizuna), who improved on a fifth in the Victoria Mile to land her first G1 victory by beating several G1 winners of both genders in the Yasuda Kinen (G1, 1,600m), will make her fall debut in the Centaur Stakes on September 11 and then set out for the United States to run in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1, 1,600m) on November 6.
2021 Horse of the Year Efforia (JPN, C4, by Epiphaneia) was expected to bounce back in the Takarazuka Kinen after a mundane ninth in the Osaka Hai (G1, 2,000m), but despite being favored first and showing good effort in the stretch, he finished sixth. It has been announced that the colt will kick off his fall campaign in the Tenno Sho (Autumn).
The conclusion of spring G1 events with the Takarazuka Kinen marked an extraordinary record - race favorites have lost 13 consecutive G1 flat races since the Hopeful Stakes late last year - a stunning trend that may affect wagering this autumn.
in the 2022 Godolphin Mile
in the 2022 UAE Derby
in the 2022 Dubai Sheema Classic
in the 2022 Dubai Gold Cup
in the 2022 Dubai Turf
in the 2022 Takarazuka Kinen
in the 2022 Hanshin Daishoten
in the 2022 Tokyo Yushun
in the 2021 Naruo Kinen
in the 2020 Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes
in the 2021 Keio Hai Nisai Stakes
in the 2022 February Stakes
in the 2022 Takamatsunomiya Kinen
in the 2022 Osaka Hai
in the 2022 Yushun Himba
in the 2022 Nakayama Grand Jump
in the 2022 Satsuki Sho
in the 2022 NHK Mile Cup
in the 2022 Victoria Mile
in the 2022 Yasuda Kinen