2023 News

October 24, 2023


Tenno Sho (Autumn) (G1) - Preview
Takarazuka Kinen (G1)

Kyoto Kinen (G2)
Do Deuce

Danon Beluga
Danon Beluga

Nakayama Kinen (G2)
Hishi Iguazu

Sapporo Kinen (G2)

Osaka Hai (G1)
Jack d'Or

Stars on Earth
Stars on Earth

Tenno Sho (Spring) (G1)
Justin Palace

Asahi Hai St. Lite Kinen (Japanese St. Leger Trial) (G2)
Gaia Force

This Sunday, Oct. 29, Tokyo Racecourse hosts the 168th running of the Tenno Sho (Autumn), one of Japan’s most prestigious and challenging races. The iconic competition is run over 2,000 meters of turf at Tokyo, and is considered to be one of the Japan Racing Association’s most difficult tests. Starting in the pocket to the right of the grandstand, it allows horses and jockeys only a short span of ground to gain an advantageous position before going into the backstretch. The race’s usual starting gates packed to the limit with 18 runners, and 13 horses has been nominated for this year’s Tenno Sho (Autumn).
Carrying a first prize of JPY220 million (approx. USD1.6 million) and a total purse of over JPY475 million, Sunday’s race is highlighted by last year’s winner Equinox, looking to join only two others that have won back-to-back fall versions of the Tenno Sho. He is riding a high wave of victory, one that landed him a list-topping rating of 129 in the LONGINES World’s Best Racehorse Rankings.

Equinox has some interesting competition though, last year’s Derby winner Do Deuce and the 2,000 meters specialist Prognosis, who won the Grade 2 Sapporo Kinen in August. Last year’s third-place finisher Danon Beluga is back and Stars on Earth, a versatile filly and two-time Grade 1 winner that has never missed the Top 3 in her career, adds to an exciting mix.

Joining the two regular non-Japanese riders Christophe Lemaire and Mirco Demuro will be Joao Moreira, adding a scintillating touch of world-level prowess and an unsettling unknown to predicting the outcome.

Here is a more-detailed look at the likely top picks:

Equinox: The son of super champ Kitasan Black has never finished out of the Top 2 in his eight-race career. He will be going to the gate with the momentum of a four-way G1 winning streak, one that has never seen him disappoint as the favorite. Last year, with Panthalassa, who was gunning for a wire to wire, Equinox shifted into high gear down the stretch to land his first Grade 1 victory, a length ahead at the finish with a final 3-furlong time of 32.7 seconds. After the race, he went on to capture the Arima Kinen (The Grand Prix) before jetting to Dubai to claim the Sheema Classic. This year, he’s back after four months off following his win in the Grade 1 Takarazuka Kinen over 2,200 meters at Hanshin. Last week, he turned in a sharp workout at his Miho base under his regular partner Christophe Lemaire, who’s tied at the top in the JRA Jockey Rankings with Yuga Kawada and fresh off a win of the Kikuka Sho (Japanese St. Leger) last week.

Do Deuce: Do Deuce, winner of the 2021 Grade 1 Asahi Futurity Stakes for 2-year-olds and the 2022 Japanese Derby, followed that up with fourth place in the Grade 2 Prix Niel prep in France before finishing 19th place in the Arc. He last raced this past February, claimed the Grade 2 Kyoto Kinen, and traveled to Dubai the following month. Headed for the Dubai Turf, he was forced to scratch when slight lameness was detected. Last week, he looked fit and on schedule under regular rider Yutaka Take. Do Deuce, by Heart’s Cry, has proven consistent with all at-home finishes in the Top 3. He and Equinox will be meeting for the first time since the Derby, where the latter chased Do Deuce down the stretch (both from the rear of the field) but failed to catch him and finished a neck behind. Yutaka Take will be participating in the Tenno Sho (Autumn) for the first time since 2020, but he tops all jockeys with his 14 wins of the Tenno Sho (either version) and is one short of the seven wins of the autumn version claimed by racing legend Takayoshi Yasuda. Trainer Yasuo Tomomichi has two wins of the Tenno Sho (Spring), but even after fielding 14 previous runners in the fall edition, is still gunning for his first win.

Danon Beluga: Another Heart’s Cry 4-year-old colt, Danon Beluga has not seen the winner’s circle since his second start, but he has made the board in all his eight career starts. After finishing fourth in both the Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas) and the Derby last year under Yuga Kawada, he ran third in the Tenno Sho (Autumn), followed by a fifth in the Japan Cup. This year, new rider Joao Moreira has had somewhat better results with a second in the Dubai Turf (Danon Beluga’s best Grade 1 performance of five), and in his most-recent race, a fourth in Grade 2 Sapporo Kinen. Moreira, expected to be in the saddle on Sunday, has hopes boosted for Danon Beluga’s first big prize. Trainer Noriyuki Hori, who won the race in 2016 with Maurice, is also fielding the Hishi Iguazu (fifth in the Sapporo Kinen). If the 7-year-old Hishi Iguazu could win, he’d become only the third horse 7 or older to do so, the first since the 8-year-old and race fifth pick Company won in 2009.

Prognosis: A Deep Impact 5-year-old, Prognosis topped the field of the Sapporo Kinen in August. Well-acquainted with the 2,000 meters trip, it was his fourth win at the distance. Trained by Mitsumasa Nakauchida, Prognosis has proven highly consistent. He has missed the Top 3 only once in his 10 starts thus far, but was still on the board. It will his first Grade 1 at home, his only other top-level competition being the Queen Elizabeth II Cup in Hong Kong this past April, where he scored second. This time will be his first time to run at Tokyo. He has, however, had ample experience racing to the left at Chukyo. Base at Ritto, he’ll have the long haul to Tokyo, but his trips to Hokkaido and Hong Kong indicate he can handle the road trip. His powerful late kick should stand him well over Tokyo’s long stretch as well. Yuga Kawada, who has ridden all of the horse’s six wins, will have the ride on Sunday.

Jack d'Or: Fourth here last year, the 5-year-old Maurice-sired Jack d'Or, who has mostly raced only over 2,000 meters from his debut, laid claim to the Grade 1 Osaka Hai in April. It was 14th start in his career and his first big win. That was followed by a fifth in the Grade 1 Yasuda Kinen, his first and only trip over 1,600 meters, after which he returned to 2,000 meters for a sixth in the Sapporo Kinen. He is primed and has the most experience of the field over 2,000 meters at Tokyo, with three wins from four starts, albeit at mostly lower levels of competition. Trained by the Ritto-based Kenichi Fujioka, in the saddle should be his son Yusuke Fujioka, paired with Jack d’Or for the first time since last year’s this race.

Stars on Earth: The only female of the field, the Duramente-sired Stars on Earth has yet to finish out of the Top 3 in her 10 starts. In the fillies’ Classic races last year, she grabbed the first two and finished third in the final leg, Shuka Sho. Only her first two starts and her recent run in the Osaka Hai were in mixed fields, but her blistering late run that brought her to within a nose of winner Jack d’Or, indicates she can handle the male horses. She will be racing for the first time since her third in the Grade 1 Victoria Mile at Tokyo in May.


Also of interest are:

Justin Palace looks to become only the sixth horse to win back to back both versions of the Tenno Sho. He prevailed in this year’s Tenno Sho (Spring) over 3,200 meters at Kyoto, then ran third in the 2,200-meter Takarazuka Kinen. He started his career with two winning runs over 2,000 meters, then a second, but was given more ground after a poor showing in the Satsuki Sho. His only other run at Tokyo was the Derby, but he may take well to the venue’s long straight.
Gaia Force, a 4-year-old gray by Kitasan Black, had success over 2,000 meters early in his career, but since he has been given a variety of distances from 1,600 meters up to the Kikuka Sho’s 3,000 meters. On the board in all but one of his 10 career starts, he scored fourth in the Yasuda Kinen and is primed with a fifth-place finish in the Grade 2 Sankei Sho All Comers at Nakayama at end September. His agility and maneuverability should stand him well over the Tokyo 2,000 meters.


Tenno Sho (Autumn) (G1) related contents