The Japan Racing Association
Exclusive Topics for JAPAN AUTUMN INTERNATIONAL 2022 - 2nd Edition -
Four Japanese runners took part in this year’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1, 2,400m) on October 2. The Japanese contestants, led by Titleholder (JPN, C4, by Duramente), the 2021 Kikuka Sho (Japanese St. Leger, G1, 3,000m) victor who had come off back-to-back G1 victories in the Tenno Sho (Spring) (G1, 3,200m) and the Takarazuka Kinen (G1, 2,200m) this spring, and Do Deuce (JPN, C3, by Heart’s Cry), this season’s Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby, G1, 2,400m) winner, attracted high expectations but all four were well beaten to double-digit placings in a field of 20.
The official rating of the track condition that day was stated as “Tres Souple (very soft),” which would be level 7 on a scale of 10. To make matters worse, heavy rain poured just before the race, making the surface equally as bad as it had been in the past three Arc races. The race unfolded with Titleholder reassuring his connections’ expectations of dictating the pace, but the Duramente colt was used up by mid-stretch due to great pressure from behind and eventually faded to 11th. Do Deuce had nothing to show, racing behind throughout and finishing 19th. Stay Foolish (JPN, H7, by Stay Gold) and Deep Bond (JPN, H5, by Kizuna), both who had yet to win a G1 title, crossed the wire in 14th and 18th, respectively.
Since 2010, when Nakayama Festa (JPN, by Stay Gold) raced to second in the prestigious French G1 event, Japanese horse have run every year except for 2015, but after relatively successful results in 2012 and 2013 with Orfevre (JPN, by Stay Gold, second in ’12, ’13) and Kizuna (JPN, by Deep Impact, 4th in ’13), none have finished within fifth place since then. Titleholder and Deep Bond are heading for the Arima Kinen (G1, 2,500m) on December 25. Do Deuce is expected to start in the Japan Cup (G1, 2,400m) on November 27 but connections of Stay Foolish announced his retirement after the son of Stay Gold was diagnosed with suspensory desmitis in his left foreleg.
The 2022 season marked the third year in which JRA horse racing was held under COVID-19 restrictions, but once limited spectators have gradually been welcomed back to normal levels. Racing was reopened with controlled capacity in October 2020, but the spreading pandemic led to a short period of racing behind closed doors until the latter half of 2021, when spectators were gradually allowed to return. From May 2022, admission was greatly expanded for advanced-sale ticket holders, resulting in Derby Day on May 29 celebrating its largest audience, 62,364, since the pandemic had begun. Moreover, since the latter half of this season, admission tickets are once again being sold at box office windows, excluding G1 race days, another step towards normalization.
Business also continues to be stable and JRA’s annual sales as of October 2 increased by 5.6% to ¥2,399.95 million, a little lower than the 6.8% increase in the fiscal first half. Although sales have slowed a little since the summer, if the expected rebound is stronger than last year’s this will become the 11th consecutive year in which sales have grown year over year. What’s more, if the increase reaches 5%, sales will be on par with the 2001 level (¥3,258 billion) and approximately 80% of the ¥4 trillion record marked in 1997.
JRA and four other organizations including the National Association of Racing (NAR) jointly announced on June 20 a new racing program for three-year-old colts racing on dirt—a series of races serving as a road towards a “Dirt Triple Crown” beginning in 2024. NAR tracks hold many major titles for dirt racing without international grade status for all ages. The race with the highest honor is the Japan Dirt Derby (dirt, 2,000m) for three-year-old colts in July. The two other major titles are the Haneda Hai (dirt, 1,800m) in April or May and the Tokyo Derby (dirt, 2,000m) in June. All three are hosted by Oi Racecourse and now comprise the three-year-old triple. The Japan Dirt Derby has served as the dirt championship for three-year-olds and has been open to JRA and other nominated colts from other NAR tracks, but the remaining two have been limited to horses based in Funabashi, Kawasaki, Oi or Urawa. The joint operation with JRA starting from 2024 will allow JRA-based colts to take part in all three of the series. In addition, the Japan Dirt Derby will shift to October with increased prize money of ¥70 million for the winner. The winner’s prizes for the Haneda Hai and the Tokyo Derby also will be raised to ¥50 million and ¥100 million, respectively, and a ¥80 million bonus will be offered to any horse claiming all three races and thus the triple crown, yielding total of ¥300 million in earnings.
With Marche Lorraine (JPN, by Orfevre) becoming the first Japanese horse to claim a U.S. dirt G1 in the 2021 Breeders’ Cup Distaff, there is increasing interest within Japan’s breeding industry to acquire stallions considered to be capable of producing horses suited to dirt surfaces in the U.S.A. The newly established Dirt Triple program is expected to attract further excitement and momentum in this category.
The breeding industry enjoyed brisk Select Sales (Japan Racing Horse Association) in July, setting yet another two-day record of ¥25.76 billion (excl. tax), up 14.2% from last year. Yearling sales at the Hokkaido Sales (Hidaka Horse Breeders Association), held four times between July and October, generated ¥14.31 billion combined, exceeding last year’s total by almost ¥1.7 billion.
(contributed by Kenichi Nomoto, Nikkei)
In the Sprinters Stakes (1,200m) on October 2, JRA’s first fall G1 event, eighth favorite Gendarme (USA, H7, by Kitten’s Joy) captured his first G1 title and registered a mother-and-son Sprinters Stakes victory—his dam Believe was the 2002 Sprinters Stakes victor. The son of Kitten’s Joy will head for the Hong Kong Sprint (G1, 1,200m) on December 11 as will Takamatsunomiya Kinen (G1, 1,200m) champion Naran Huleg (JPN, H6, by Gold Allure) and six-time graded winner Meikei Yell (JPN, F4, by Mikki Isle), who finished third and 14th, respectively, in the Sprinters. Resistencia (JPN, M5, by Daiwa Major), who is currently nursing a fractured first phalanx in her left foreleg, is aiming to make a comeback in the Hong Kong Sprint where she finished second last year.
Salios (JPN, H5, by Heart’s Cry), the 2019 Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes (G1, 1,600m) champion, set a record in the Mainichi Okan (G2, 1,800m) at Tokyo Racecourse on October 9 by winning the 1,800-meter race in 1:44.1. Danon the Kid (JPN, C4, by Just a Way), Lei Papale (JPN, M5, by Deep Impact) and Potager (JPN, H5, by Deep Impact), the other three G1 winners in the race, finished third, fourth and sixth, respectively. Salios, who was nominated to run in the Hong Kong Mile (G1, 1,600m) on December 11, will start in the Mile Championship (G1, 1,600m) on November 20 prior to his overseas endeavor.
Vela Azul (JPN, H5, by Eishin Flash) registered his first grade-race victory in the Kyoto Daishoten (G2, 2,400m) at Hanshin Racecourse on October 10, his fifth start since switching from dirt to turf in March this year. The son of Eishin Flash is eyeing the Japan Cup together with runner-up Boccherini (JPN, H6, by King Kamehameha) while third-place finisher Win Mighty (JPN, M5, by Gold Ship) will head for the Queen Elizabeth II Cup (G1, 2,200m) on November 13.
The Tenno Sho (Autumn) (G1, 2,000m) on October 30 will feature Shahryar (JPN, C4, by Deep Impact), who won the Dubai Sheema Classic (G1, 2,410m), and Panthalassa (JPN, H5, by Lord Kanaloa), victor in the Dubai Turf (G1, 1,800m), both wins coming in March. Also running will be Jack d'Or (JPN, C4, by Maurice), victor in the Sapporo Kinen (G2, 2,000m) in August, Geoglyph (JPN, C3, by Drefong), this year’s Satsuki Sho winner, and Equinox (JPN, C3, by Kitasan Black), who secured seconds in both classics. Other entrants will include the aforementioned Potager and last year’s Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks, G1, 2,400m) champion Uberleben (JPN, F4, by Gold Ship).
In the Fuchu Himba Stakes (G2, 1,800m), the trial race held on October 15 towards the Queen Elizabeth II Cup (G1, 2,200m) on November 13, Izu Jo no Kiseki (JPN, M5, by Epiphaneia) claimed the first grade-race title in her 21st career start and now will attempt to claim a G1 title in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup. Race-favorite Sodashi (JPN, F4, by Kurofune), second by a neck, will aim for her fourth G1 title in the Mile Championship (G1, 1,600m) on November 20.
Stunning Rose (JPN, F3, by King Kamehameha) claimed the last leg of the three-year-old fillies Triple, the Shuka Sho (G1, 2,000m) on October 16, followed by stablemate and runner-up Namur (JPN, F3, by Harbinger). Stars on Earth (JPN, F3, by Duramente), who aimed to become the seventh fillies’ Triple Crown winner in her autumn comeback after recovering from chip fractures in both forelegs, broke poorly and had too much ground to make up, finishing third. Stunning Rose and Namur will face older foes for the first time with their next starts in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup. Meanwhile, Stars on Earth, having sustained a suspensory demitis in her left foreleg, will be given the rest of the season off.
The Queen Elizabeth II Cup field will also include defending champion Akai Ito (JPN, M5, by Kizuna) as well as Geraldina (JPN, F4, by Maurice), Win Kiitos (JPN, M5 by Gold Ship) and Daring Tact (JPN, M5, by Epiphaneia) who finished first, third and sixth respectively in the All Comers (G2, 2,200m) on September 25. Others will include Win Marilyn (JPN, M5, by Screen Hero), third-place finisher in the Sapporo Kinen, and Terzetto (JPN, M5, by Deep Impact), who became the back-to-back victor of the Queen Stakes (G3, 1,800m) in July.
The Fuji Stakes (G2, 1,600m), one of the Mile Championship trials on October 22, was won by Serifos (JPN, C3, by Daiwa Major) after a three-horse rally with this year’s Milers Cup (G2, 1,600m) winner Soul Rush (JPN, C4, by Rulership) and NHK Mile Cup (G1, 1,600m) champion Danon Scorpion (JPN, C3, by Lord Kanaloa) who finished second and third, respectively. The three were each separated by just neck margins. Serifos, who claimed his third grade race, will aim for a first G1title in the Mile Championship, facing both Soul Rush and Danon Scorpion again.
Other Mile Championship entrants will include those running in another Mile Championship trial, the Swan Stakes (G2, 1,400m) on October 30, the winner of which will earn priority entry rights. Also expected to run this year are proven grade-race winners such as Salios, Danon the Kid, Sodashi, Schnell Meister (GER, C4, by Kingman), last year’s runner-up, and Win Carnelian (JPN, H5, by Screen Hero), winner of the Sekiya Kinen (G3, 1,600m) in August.
Major dirt events this fall began with the Sirius Stakes (G3, dirt, 1,900m) on October 1, which Jun Light Bolt (JPN, H5, by King Kamehameha) claimed his first grade-race win in his third start since switching to dirt. The son of King Kamehameha will aim for his first G1 title in the Champions Cup (G1, dirt, 1,800m) on December 4. Back-to-back February Stakes (G1, dirt, 1,600m) victor Cafe Pharoah (USA, H5, by American Pharoah) is in good form, scoring another major victory in the Mile Championship Nambu Hai (dirt, 1,600m) on October 10. Meanwhile, 2020 Champions Cup victor and last year’s runner-up Chuwa Wizard (JPN, H7, by King Kamehameha) was diagnosed with a suspensory desmitis in his right foreleg and retired from racing.
This year’s Yasuda Kinen (G1, 1,600m) champion Songline (JPN, F4, by Kizuna), who was slated to run in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1, 1,600m) on November 5, had to cancel her trip due to an epiglottic inflammation. She is making a steady recovery and is hoped to return in time for the Hong Kong Mile. Chain of Love (JPN, M5, by Heart's Cry), who finished fourth in the Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1, dirt, 1,200m) in March and came off a win in the listed Enif Stakes (dirt, 1,400m) in September, will make another overseas challenge in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1, dirt, 1,400m) on November 5.
Finally, legendary jumper Oju Chosan (JPN, H11, by Stay Gold), who claimed his sixth Nakayama Grand Jump title in April, was a disappointing ninth in his comeback start on October 16 in the Tokyo High-Jump (J-G2, 3,110m), where Xenoverse (JPN, H5, by Deep Impact) registered his first graded title. Oju Chosan will aim to bounce back for his 10th J-G1 title in the Nakayama Daishogai on December 24 and then retire from racing.
2021 Breeders' Cup Distaff
winner of 2022 Sprinter Stakes
winner of 2022 Kyoto Daishoten
winner of 2022 Fuchu Himba Stakes
winner of 2022 Shuka Sho
winner of 2022 Sirius Stakes