2016 JRA Award
HORSE OF THE YEARBEST OLDER COLT OR HORSE
Kitasan Black (JPN)
BEST TWO-YEAR-OLD COLT
Satono Ares (JPN)
BEST TWO-YEAR-OLD FILLY
Soul Stirring (JPN)
BEST THREE-YEAR-OLD COLT
Satono Diamond (JPN)
BEST THREE-YEAR-OLD FILLY
BEST OLDER FILLY OR MARE
BEST SPRINTER OR MILER
Mikki Isle (JPN)
BEST DIRT HORSE
Sound True (JPN)
BEST STEEPLECHASE HORSE
Oju Chosan (JPN)
TRAINERS & JOCKEYS
BEST TRAINER (RACES WON)
BEST TRAINER (WINNING AVERAGE)BEST TRAINER (MONEY EARNED)BEST TRAINER (TRAINING TECHNIQUE)
BEST JOCKEY (RACES WON)MOST VALUABLE JOCKEY
BEST JOCKEY (WINNING AVERAGE)BEST JOCKEY (MONEY EARNED)
BEST STEEPLECHASE JOCKEY
BEST JOCKEY (NEWCOMER)
JRA EQUINE CULTURE AWARD
Winner: “Satta no Kuroi Kouma” (Satta's black foal)
Recipient: Mugiho Omata (author)
Recipient: Yuki Sasameya (illustrator)
Kitasan Black Outduels Maurice for 2016 Horse of the Year
Kitasan Black drew 134 out of 291 votes to win The Japan Racing Association’s 2016 Horse of the Year based on an outstanding season that included victories in the Tenno Sho (Spring) and the Japan Cup. Maurice, who won three G1 titles, including two in Hong Kong, earned 90 votes to deny him a second consecutive Horse of the Year title, but he still earned a Special Award for continuing to excel in the final season of his illustrious career. The annual JRA Awards, which will be handed out in a ceremony at Prince Park Tower Tokyo on Monday, January 30, recognize horses, trainers, jockeys, other individuals and organizations for outstanding performances or achievements in the thoroughbred racing season.
Kitasan Black also was selected Best Older Colt or Horse with 201 votes. Oju Chosan was named Best Steeplechase Horse as the year’s only unanimous choice in any category, while Best Two-Year-Old Filly Soul Stirring and Best Three-Year-Old Colt Satono Diamond came up just one vote and five votes short, respectively, of 291. Best Two-Year-Old Colt Satono Ares and Best Three-Year-Old Filly Sinhalite both collected over 90% of the votes.
JRA Best Trainer Awards are presented for Wins, Money Earned and Winning Average based on JRA races and designated NAR and overseas races. Yoshito Yahagi became Best Trainer (Races Won) for a second time following 2014, while Noriyuki Hori won his second consecutive title for Winning Average, his third overall and first in Money Earned and Training Technique.
Best Jockey Awards are presented for Races Won, Money Earned, Winning Average, Steeplechase and Newcomer based on accomplishments in JRA races alone. Keita Tosaki won his third consecutive titles for Races Won with 187 and Most Valuable Jockey for overall accomplishments, including designated NAR and overseas races. Christophe Lemaire missed sharing the Races Won title by just one victory but claimed his second successive title for Winning Average and his first title for Money Earned. Shinichi Ishigami won his first title for Best Steeplechase Jockey and Takuya Kowata was named Best Jockey (Newcomer). Shigefumi Kumazawa was given a Special Award for noteworthy career achievements both in flat and steeplechase racing.
The Equine Culture Award was presented to Mugiho Omata (author) and Yuki Sasameya (illustrator) for their work in children’s literature, “Satta no Kuroi Kouma” (Satta’s black foal).
Japan Cup (G1 - English)
Kitasan Black claimed the 2016 Horse of the Year title after for an outstanding season that included two of Japan’s most prestigious G1 titles as well as two close finishes—under 0.1 second—in All-Star G1 events, the Takarazuka Kinen and the Arima Kinen. These combined with another G2 win in the Kyoto Daishoten boosted his total earnings above the billion yen mark and won him 44 votes over 2015 Horse of the Year Maurice for the season’s highest honor.
Kitasan Black won three in a row from his career debut as a three-year-old, including his first grade-race victory, to qualify for the Triple Crown Classics. While still green in the first two legs of the triple, he progressed well during the summer break to win his fall debut, the St. Lite Kinen (G2, 2,200m), and demonstrated both speed and stamina in the 3,000-meter Kikuka Sho (Japanese St. Leger) for his first G1 title. Despite a long hard-fought season, he capped off his three-year-old campaign with a third-place finish against older G1-caliber runners in the 2015 Arima Kinen.
He kicked off 2016, his four-year-old campaign, with a close runner-up finish in the Sankei Osaka Hai and was sent off second favorite in the following Tenno Sho (Spring), where he validated his Kikuka Sho win as a first-class stayer over the 3,200-meter course for his second G1 victory. In the Takarazuka Kinen at the wire he came up just short of holding off a powerful late charge from eventual winner Marialite, as well as 2015 derby winner Duramente, settling for a neck-nose-third. Nevertheless, the colt bounced back in his fall debut to claim the Kyoto Daishoten. He was sent to post race-favorite in his first Japan Cup challenge, where he took advantage of starting from the inner-most stall and, as expected, smoothly secured the front-running position by the first turn and stretched his lead to around four lengths along the backstretch. The field made their bids heading into the straight and closed in, but a confident Yutaka Take calmly allowed Kitasan Black to hit his best stride and never surrender the lead, pulling away strongly from the 300-meter marker to a convincing 2-1/2 length victory.
Finishing his season with another strong runner-up effort as the favorite in the Arima Kinen, Kitasan Black heads into his five-year-old campaign much like last year, beginning with the Sankei Osaka Hai, which will be upgraded to G1 status from 2017.
Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes (G1 - English)
Satono Ares captured this year’s Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes to become the season’s two-year-old champion colt. He is trained by Kazuo Fujisawa, a multiple JRA Award-winning trainer who also saddled Soul Stirring to victory in the fillies’ version of the two-year-old G1 just a week earlier. The son of Deep Impact was runner-up in his first two starts in August and broke his maiden in September before marking another win in the Begonia Sho in November.
Sent to post sixth favorite in the Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes, his first grade-race challenge and the season’s only G1 event for two-year-old colts, Satono Ares was unrushed after breaking from an outside draw and bided his time near the rear. Making steady headway on the outside and circling wide into the lane, the dark bay colt produced a powerful turn of speed after entering the homestretch. Passing tiring rivals with the second fastest finish over the last three furlongs, he took the lead 100 meters out and drew away to hold off a strong late challenge from behind.
Satono Ares will kick off his three-year-old campaign in either the Yayoi Sho (G2, 2,000m) on March 5 or the Spring Stakes (G2, 1,800m) on March 19, while also keeping an eye on the first leg of the Triple Crown, the Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas, G1, 2,000m) on April 16.
Hanshin Juvenile Fillies (G1 - English)
Race-favorite Soul Stirring stamped her claim as the season’s champion two-year-old filly by remaining undefeated after her third career win, a G1 victory nonetheless, in the 2016 Hanshin Juvenile Fillies. The accomplishment also presented the first post-retirement G1 victory to her legendary sire, Frankel, who concluded his racing career in 2012 with 14 wins out of as many career starts, including a still-record streak of nine G1 titles.
Debuting in July, Soul Stirring won her first career start to live up to expectations as one of Frankel’s first offsprings and out of multiple-G1 winner Stacelita (by Monsun), and she then proceeded to win the Ivy Stakes (1,800m) on October 22. After Mi Suerte had become the first Frankel filly to score a grade-race title in Japan, Soul Stirring grabbed the spotlight back in her own first grade-race challenge, the Hanshin Juvenile Fillies. After making a clean break and taking advantage of an inside draw, she stayed near the pace at fourth or fifth along the rails up to the last corner. Edging closer to the leader as she approached the 200-meter pole, she pulled away with ease while holding off a strong charge from behind, covering the mile distance in 1:34.0.
Soul Stirring will start her three-year-old season with the Tulip Sho (G3, 1,600m) on March 4, then she’ll move on to the Oka Sho (Japanese 1000 Guineas, G1, 1,600m) on April 9.
Arima Kinen (The Grand Prix) (G1 - English)
Satono Diamond became the first three-year-old in four years, and the 18th overall, to capture the year-end Arima Kinen against a field of older G1 winners. The Deep Impact colt, unbeaten in two starts as a two-year-old after a late debut in November, kicked off the 2016 season with his third win and first grade-race victory in the Kisaragi Sho. As the favorite in the first leg of the Triple Crown, the Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas), he impressively out-finished 2015 Best Two-Year-Old Colt Leontes, but was overtake n by eventual winner Dee Majesty and subsequent Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby) winner Makahiki, settling for third place. He almost won the next time out in the Tokyo Yushun, just missing by a nose to Makahiki while holding off Dee Majesty by a half a length. Starting the fall with his second grade-race victory in the Kobe Shimbun Hai, Satono Diamond then conquered the Kikuka Sho (Japanese St. Leger) by unleashing a powerful turn of speed from mid-division to pull away from 200 meters out and claim the last leg of the Triple Crown by comfortable 2-1/2 lengths.
Satono Diamond was sent to post race-favorite in the Arima Kinen, despite facing seniors for the first time after a long competitive season and even though he was the lone three-year-old among a tough field of 16 that included Japan Cup victor Kitasan Black and 2015 Arima Kinen winner Gold Actor. Breaking from stall 11, he traveled wide in mid-division, around eighth, and advanced forward through the first and second corners to sit right behind Kitasan Black entering the backstretch. The son of Deep Impact was given a breather, then advanced as he turned the last two corners to move into third as he faced the last stretch. Chasing relentlessly behind Kitasan Black and Gold Actor as the crowd roared, Satono Diamond somehow found another gear and accelerated in the last 100 meters to pass Gold Actor 50 meters out, and then edged Kitasan Black right before the wire for a thrilling neck victory.
Although an initial plan to challenge the 2016 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe was postponed due to training schedule adjustments, trainer Yasutoshi Ikee is eager to let his fast-rising colt challenge the Arc this coming fall, so he is carefully mapping out a spring program in preparation for the big event.
Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks) (G1 - English)
Sinhalite was named Best Three-Year-Old Filly of 2016 after registering four wins and a second out of five starts. Her noteworthy achievements during the year included a win in the Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks) and a second in the Oka Sho (Japanese 1000 Guineas), plus two other grade-race victories.
Breaking her maiden in her only start as a two-year-old, Sinhalite won her first grade-race title in one of the main Oka Sho trials, the Tulip Sho (G3, 1,600m), in March. Racing against a number of potential three-year-old fillies, including subsequent Oka Sho winner Jeweler, she renewed the race record set by Vodka by 0.9 second. In the Oka Sho, the Deep Impact filly demonstrated a powerful turn of speed to pin down 2015 Best Two-Year-Old Filly Major Emblem in the last 200 meters and continued to pull away, but she was caught by the winner in the last blink of an eye, finishing second by a mere two-centimeter margin.
Having already proved herself one of the elite runners of her generation, Sinhalite again put her strength on display as race favorite in the Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks), claiming her first G1 title and second grade-race victory. It also gave trainer Sei Ishizaka his second Yushun Himba title after winning the race with Gentildonna in 2012.
Given a four-month break during the summer, she quickly turned in another strong performance in the Rose Stakes, prior to the last leg of the fillies’ Triple Crown, the Shuka Sho. Regrettably, a tendon injury in her left foreleg in October led to the decision to retire the filly, so she is now beginning a new career as a broodmare.
Takarazuka Kinen (G1 - English)
Marialite was chosen Best Older Filly or Mare of 2016 with another impressive season following a breakthrough year in 2015, when the late-developing daughter of Deep Impact registered her first G1 victory in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup. Achievements during her five-year-old season include a second G1 victory, this time against top male G1 winners in the Takarazuka Kinen. The dark bay mare broke sharply from an outside draw, traveled wide in mid-division and edged her way forward while turning the last corners, still wide. She made her bid on the homestretch, surging to overtake the defending champion Lovely Day 100 meters out and continuing to accelerate strongly. She passed the subsequent Japan Cup victor Kitasan Black just before the wire while holding off a powerful late charge by Duramente, who had come off a runner-up effort in the Dubai Sheema Classic, for a neck victory. She was also a neck second in the Meguro Kinen and third to 2015 Arima Kinen winner Gold Actor in the Nikkei Sho.
Coming from a superb pedigree that inspired high expectations before her debut, the filly was unable to begin as a two-year-old because she was still physically weak. Although Marialite turned in consistent results during her three-year-old campaign, she was not ready to take on grade-race competition until the spring of her four-year-old season, when she won strongly in two allowance starts and finished second in her first grade race, the Mermaid Stakes (G3, 2,000m). After a fifth-place finish against a mixed field in the All Comers (G2, 2,200m), she bested a field of Japan’s top fillies and mares in the 2015 Queen Elizabeth II Cup. In the race, she advanced along the outside from mid-division and, as the field spread wide going into the stretch, she closed in on the leaders with every stride to take command soon after the furlong pole. Challenged by the fast-closing 2014 Oaks winner Nuovo Record, who had beaten her in their previous start in the All Comers, Marialite’s strong will prevailed and she won by a neck for her first G1 victory.
Capping off the 2015 season with a close fourth in the Arima Kinen, the five-year-old mare continued to excel in the first half of 2016, although she was unable to defend her title in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup.
Her connections announced her retirement as of the end of the 2016 season.
Mile Championship (G1 - English)
Mikki Isle returned to his winning ways to become the Best Sprinter or Miler in 2016. Although recognized as a talented miler from early in his career, the son of Deep Impact had been winless for over a year after disappointing in major mile G1 events, though he managed to fare better at shorter distances. But then the much-favored speedster picked up his form starting his five-year-old season by marking his fifth grade-race title in the Hankyu Hai in February. After two close runner-up efforts in the JRA’s sprint G1 starts, the Takamatsunomiya Kinen and the Sprinters Stakes, Mikki Isle dominated the Mile Championship to stand among the leaders in both the sprint and mile categories.
After a second in his career debut as a two-year-old, the colt broke his maiden with a spectacular wire-to-wire victory, renewing the 1,600-meter record (by a two-year-old) set by two-time Horse of the Year Vodka and leaving the nearest finisher five lengths behind. Another strong performance followed, this time by a comfortable 3-1/2-length margin, prior to his first grade-race victory in the Shinzan Kinen (G3) in his three-year-old debut, which he followed up with a win in the Arlington Cup (G3). Mikki Isle scored his fifth consecutive win over a mile in the 2014 NHK Mile Cup, his first G1 victory, showing he was a potential champion miler. Sent to post second choice behind Just a Way for his first challenge against senior milers in the Yasuda Kinen, he was unable to handle the heavy going his first time out and came up empty, plummeting to 16th after making the pace early. He bounced back with a win in the shorter 1,400-meter Swan Stakes (G2) in the fall, but he was heavily beaten again in the following 2014 Mile Championship. While finishing third and fourth in the Takamatsunomiya Kinen and the Sprinters Stakes, respectively, during his four-year-old campaign, Mikki Isle disappointed with another finish out of the top 10 in the Yasuda Kinen. He also was unsuccessful overseas in the Hong Kong Sprint, finishing seventh.
Raced over a mile for the first time in 18 months in the 2016 Mile Championship, Mikki Isle broke sharply and immediately rushed out to set the pace with Neorealism pressing the pace from the outside. The two five-year-olds dueled fiercely entering the lane and, though the son of Neo Universe took the lead 150 meters out, Mikki Isle found another gear and promptly resumed command while managing to fend off a strong late charge by Isla Bonita to win by a head margin.
Champions Cup (G1 - English)
Sound True became a well-deserving winner of the 2016 Best Dirt Horse by claiming his second G1 title in the Champions Cup and consistently placing within the money in five other grade-race starts. The son of French Deputy has raced exclusively on dirt to establish himself as a constant threat with a powerful late drive that has proved effective, especially since the latter part of 2015.
Breaking his maiden in his second start as a two-year-old, the talented colt registered 1-5-6 out of 15 starts, including a third-place finish in the graded Unicorn Stakes (G3, dirt, 1,600m) between 2013 and the first half of his four-year-old season. He began to show significant improvement after being gelded in the summer of 2014, landing his third career win in his first start following surgery, then scoring three more wins in the first half of his five-year-old campaign before capturing his first grade-race title in the 2015 Nippon TV Hai in his fall debut. Sound True continued to demonstrate his sharp turn of speed when stepping up to G1 level in his following starts, culminating in his first title at the highest level in the Tokyo Daishoten, which he won in dominating fashion with the fastest finish over the last three furlongs to beat long-standing G1 winners by a convincing 1-3/4 lengths.
While winless in five starts in 2016 prior to the Champions Cup, he consistently finished within the money in all but the Kashiwa Kinen, which was unfavorably short for the middle-distance dirt runner. Sent to post sixth favorite for the 2016 Champions Cup, the gelding was eased back to second from the rear and maintained this rearward position while taking an economic route by the rails. Still hugging the rails when turning for home, the six-year-old angled out for space and unleashed his usual late charge, marking the fastest last three furlong while mowing down his rivals to pin the leader at the wire for a neck victory. He was unable to defend his title in the following Tokyo Daishoten but still exerted his trademark charge to finish third over a track rated muddy.
Sound True will remain in training for his seven-year-old season which will begin with the Kawasaki Kinen on February 1.
Nakayama Daishogai (J-G1)
Oju Chosan concluded a spectacular 2016 season with a near perfect score of four wins and a second that included both J-G1 titles and two other graded jump titles, positioning himself as the undisputed JRA Award winner for Best Steeplechase Horse. The five-year-old son of Stay Gold became only the second horse to claim both J-G1 titles in the same year—the first was Up to Date in 2015—including the Nakayama Daishogai in December, when he used his outstanding stamina and speed to keep the pace and then still have plenty left to draw away to an overwhelming nine-length victory.
Winless in two starts on the flat as a two-year-old, the colt was given a year break to restart his racing career over obstacles. He was last in a field of 14 in his jump race debut, but he changed hands to current trainer, Shoichiro Wada, and turned in a runner-up effort in January 2015, followed by two consecutive wins two months later. Progressing well throughout the season, he finished fourth in his first grade-race challenge, the 2015 Tokyo Jump Stakes under Shinichi Ishigami, who has ridden in all his starts since. The pair added another win prior to their first J-G1 challenge in the 2015 Nakayama Daishogai, where the bay raced far behind in 12th and showed good change of speed to improve to sixth at the wire.
Coming off a runner-up effort in March of 2016, Oju Chosan was positioned in the first four as the second favorite in the Nakayama Grand Jump and wore down the pace setter with his exceptional finishing speed to fly past the leader in the last 100 meters and open the gap to 3-1/2 lengths for his first title at the highest level.
Still young for a jumper and with good finishing speed, Oju Chosan continues to attract high expectations towards 2017 in which his trainer has announced will start with the Hanshin Spring Jump (J-G2, 3,900m; Mar.11) and then move on to the Nakayama Grand Jump (Apr.15).
Tenno Sho (Autumn) (G1 - English)
2015 Horse of the Year Maurice delivered another outstanding season to conclude his sparkling racing career with six G1 titles in everything from a mile to extended distances of 2,000 meters. While falling 44 votes short of Kitasan Black for his second Horse of the Year title, the son of Screen Hero bagged another overseas success in the Champions Mile in May. Although unable to defend his Yasuda Kinen title, finishing second in his comeback start in Japan a month later, the five-year-old bay was runner-up in his first test over 2,000 meters in the Sapporo Kinen and proceeded to mark two G1 wins over the same distance in the Tenno Sho (Autumn) and overseas in the Hong Kong Cup.
Maurice debuted as a two-year-old with a dominating three-length win in record time for a two-year-old at Kyoto under former trainer Naohiro Yoshida. He also scored another win that season, but in the spring of his three-year-old campaign he did not progress as expected and was unable to make the three-year-old Classics. Returning for his four-year-old debut in January under new trainer Noriyuki Hori, the Screen Hero colt transformed into a successful grade-race winner in his third start of the season, the Lord Derby Challenge Trophy (G3, 1,600m), where he broke the race record set by Daiwa Major in 2005 by 0.1 second.
For his next start, he gave another strong performance in his first G1 challenge, the Yasuda Kinen, where he prevailed by a neck to become the first G1 winner sired by Screen Hero. He then validated the win by claiming the Mile Championship with a convincing 1-1/4-length margin. His overseas success in the Hong Kong Mile secured his 2015 awards for both the Horse of the Year title and Best Sprinter or Miler.
Retiring at of the end of 2016, he will begin his stud career at Shadai Stallion Station.
Yoshito Yahagi claimed his second JRA Award for Best Trainer (Races Won), the first one coming in 2014. Despite earning no JRA-G1 title in 2016, he saddled Real Steel to a G1 victory in the Dubai Turf in Dubai, captured the Japan Dirt Derby title with Kyoei Gere and finished second in both the Tenno Sho (Autumn) with Real Steel and the Hanshin Juvenile Fillies with Lys Gracieux.
The son of Kazuto Yahagi, a former trainer at NAR’s Ohi Racecourse, Yoshito has always been around horses. At first, his father did not approve of him becoming a horse trainer, but he finally agreed on the condition that Yahagi would strive to become a JRA trainer and that he would first learn the art of training outside Japan. His father’s advice helped him to acquire important basics in training while spending time in Australia, where he worked at Randwick in New South Wales and Flemington, Victoria and Toowoomba in Queensland, after which he trained in Britain. Upon his return to Japan, he introduced the interval training method while helping at his father’s yard, then enrolled in the stable employee course at JRA Horse Racing School.
After working as a stable lad, Yahagi became an assistant trainer for a number of JRA trainers, including Sadataka Sugaya, from whom he learned the business side of running a successful training yard. Although it took him more than 10 years to obtain his license, it was not long before his unique training philosophy and staff management proved effective. He made the top 10 in the national rankings in his fourth season as a trainer, achieved the runner-up position in the following year and was a top-five trainer in each of the past four seasons, including No. 1 in 2014 and 2016.
Yahagi has produced a number of outstanding grade-race winners during his career, including Grand Prix Boss, Super Hornet and 2012 Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby) winner Deep Brillante.
Noriyuki Hori turned in another outstanding season in 2016 after becoming the JRA’s leading trainer for the first time in 2015. Success in both Japan and overseas produced his first JRA Awards for Money Earned and Training Technique and his third title for Winning Average. Even though two-time Triple Crown winner Duramente was forced to retire in mid-season with injury, Horse of the Year Maurice gave Hori three major G1 victories—the Tenno Sho (Autumn) in Japan and the Champions Mile and the Hong Kong Cup in Hong Kong. In addition, Satono Crown brought him another G1 title in the Hong Kong Vase, making Hori the first JRA trainer to saddle two overseas G1 winners in a single day.
Hori began working as a groom at Tomizo Suwa’s stable, then became an assistant trainer under Yoshitaka Ninomiya, who is best known for saddling multiple G1 winners El Condor Pasa and Nakayama Festa in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in 1999 and 2010, respectively. Hori opened his own yard in 2003 and notched his first win in his 23rd start. He captured his first grade-race title in his fourth season when Venus Line won the 2006 Hakodate Sprint Stakes (G3). His win total began to climb in 2009 when he posted 31 victories, ranking eighth in eastern Japan (Miho Training Center) and 22nd in the JRA national rankings.
Hori was 12th nationally with 36 wins in 2010, the year he won his first G1 title with Kinshasa no Kiseki in the Takamatsunomiya Kinen. In 2011, he rose to sixth with 43 wins out of 214 starts—an achievement that earned his first JRA Award for Best Trainer (Winning Average). He was even more successful in 2015 when he scored 56 wins to become Best Trainer for both Races Won and Winning Average. Top horses in Hori’s outstanding career have included Jaguar Mail (2010 Tenno Sho [Spring]), Real Impact (2011 Yasuda Kinen & 2015 George Ryder Stakes) and Strong Return (2012 Yasuda Kinen).
Keita Tosaki won his third consecutive titles for Races Won and Most Valuable Jockey by beating Christophe Lemaire in a close battle by just one win. He concluded the season with a personal-best 187 wins, an impressive 40-win increase over his previous best in 2014. The former NAR star jockey padded his outstanding year with eight wins in designated NAR races to earn his third Most Valuable Jockey title, as well as surpass 600 career JRA wins in September. He marked another personal best by winning 13 grade-race titles, including his second consecutive Victoria Mile victory with Straight Girl.
Tosaki’s career began in 1998 at Ohi Racecourse as a stable jockey for trainer Kazutaka Katori. He rode his first winner in April that year, scored his 100th win in 2002 and landed his first major title in the Twinkle Lady Sho with Koei Sophia in 2005. In the following year, he nearly doubled his wins to 123, then rose to third in the NAR’s national jockey rankings with 212 wins in 2007, the year when he scored his first JRA win at Hanshin Racecourse. This began a remarkable string of success as the four-time NAR leader in 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2012.
Given opportunities on JRA mounts, Tosaki scored his first JRA grade-race win in 2010 in the Musashino Stakes (G3) with Glorious Noah. He followed this with his first JRA-G1 victory in the 2011 Yasuda Kinen with Real Impact. Transferred to JRA racing in 2013, Tosaki quickly placed himself among the top five jockeys nationally with 113 wins in 2013, including a G1 title with Red Reveur in the Hanshin Juvenile Fillies.
His success continued in 2014, when he led the national standings with 10 more wins than the runner-up, and capped his remarkable second season with a victory in the year-end Arima Kinen aboard Gentildonna. In 2015, he defended his champion jockey title with 130 wins, including G1 titles aboard Straight Girl in the Victoria Mile and the Sprinters Stakes.
Christophe Lemaire landed his second consecutive JRA title for Winning Average with a strike rate that jumped from 19.5% in 2015 to 23.7% in 2016. His year was impressive in terms of both quantity and quality: he was the leading jockey in Money Earned with 13 grade-race wins, including four G1 titles with Major Emblem (NHK Mile Cup), Satono Diamond (Kikuka Sho, Arima Kinen) and Soul Stirring (Hanshin Juvenile Fillies), and he battled all season with Keita Tosaki for Races Won, coming up just one win short of the JRA leader despite scoring his 500th career win in October.
Lemaire debuted as a regular jockey in 2015 after passing his JRA exam together with Mirco Demuro. Despite not starting until April, he still managed to notch 112 wins to place fourth on the leaderboard and register the highest winning percentage to become Best Jockey (Winning Average).
Born in Chantilly as the son of Patrice Lemaire, a leading jump jockey in the ‘80s, Lemaire was riding horses before he was walking. His career began as an amateur rider in 1996 at the age of 16. Accumulating valuable experience while exercising horses for well-established trainers such as Andre Fabre and Jean-Paul Gallorini, he started riding professionally after acquiring his license in 1999.
He scored his first G1 title in France in the 2003 Prix Jean Prat. He was soon among the top jockeys at home and became a prominent international rider with G1 titles in France, England, the UAE, Australia, Hong Kong and the United States. Lemaire began racing in Japan from 2002 under short-term annual licenses. His major JRA titles began with a G1 victory in the 2005 Arima Kinen with Heart’s Cry, followed by the 2008 Queen Elizabeth II Commemorative Cup with Little Amapola, the 2008 Japan Cup Dirt with Kane Hekili, the 2009 Japan Cup with two-time JRA Horse of the Year Vodka and his second Japan Cup Dirt in 2013 with Belshazzar.
Shinichi Ishigami finally put his racing career into high gear in 2016 by quintupling his previous year’s wins, of which five were grade-race titles, including both J-G1 events held during the year with Oju Chosan. His five grade-race wins over fences tied a JRA record set by Tadashi Kosaka in 2006.
Ishigami began his career as a flat race jockey in 2001 and he landed his first win aboard Raidenno Hana on March 31. He made steady progress with more than ten wins in each of his first four seasons and scored an impressive runner-up effort in the 2004 Copa Republica Argentina (G2) with Tenjin Musashi. But then his career soured in 2005 and 2006 due to a prolonged suspension followed by injuries that he sustained in a fall.
Seeking to broaden his riding opportunities, Ishigami started riding jumpers from 2007 and scored his first win in the following year, but he had to wait until 2013 for his first graded win aboard Assatis Boy in the Niigata Jump Stakes (J-G3).
Eventually, he began riding over jumps more than on the flat. Though his win totals remained in the modest single-digit range, his riding skill over jumps became well appreciated due to his sound rate of finishing within the money, placing his name among the prominent jump jockeys in JRA racing.
Takuya Kowata achieved a personal goal by claiming the JRA Award title for Best Jockey (Newcomer) with 45 wins out of 637 rides in his first season as a JRA jockey.
He was born into a racing family that includes his father Hatsuhiro, an active JRA jockey with 778 career wins including eight grade-race titles, and his elder brother Hatsuya, who debuted as a JRA jockey in 2014 with 39 career wins. Takuya began riding at an early age and won a preliminary in the Kanto Area to earn a berth in the JRA’s “Jockey Babies” race, finishing fifth. He enrolled in the JRA Horse Racing School in 2012.
Riding under trainer Hidekazu Asami upon graduating from JRA’s Horse Racing School in February 2015, he scored his first win on March 14 at Chukyo. He was second best among first-season jockeys with 17 wins by August and then ultimately overtook his rivals to win by nine victories for the champion title.
While fellow graduate Nanako Fujita debuted in the same year and dominated media attention as the first female JRA jockey in 16 years, Kowata made sound progress as a rookie, landing his first win in his 31st race and notching 10 victories in his first two months. He reached 20 wins on July 31, the same day he finished eighth in the Ibis Summer Dash (G3), his first graded race. He cleared the minimum 30-win mark required to qualify for the JRA Award for Best Jockey (Newcomer) on September 18. Kowata has already ridden in four grade-race events, finishing fourth in both the Niigata Nisai Stakes (G3) in August and the Saudi Arabia Royal Cup (G3) in October.
On April 2, he became part of JRA history by competing in the first race to feature a father and two sons, and then he won the race while his brother Hatsuya finished eighth and father Hatsuhiro ninth. Takuya’s younger brother is due to make his debut in March 2017.
Shigefumi Kumazawa became JRA’s 30th jockey to reach the 1,000-win milestone on May 29, which he accomplished with a balance of flat racing and steeplechasing. Excelling in both categories, he surpassed 790 career wins on the flat and positioned himself third all-time in the jump jockey rankings with 11 wins in 2016 to reach 215 career wins—tops among active jump jockeys. For these achievements, the veteran jockey of 31 years was awarded the Special Award.
Kumazawa scored 30 wins in his debut season as a JRA jockey in 1986. He landed his first G1 and Classic title in the 1988 Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks) with 10th-favorite outsider Cosmo Dream, thereby setting a record as the youngest jockey at 20 years and three months to win a G1 title. He also pulled off other upset G1 victories, including the 1991 Arima Kinen with 14th-favorite Dai Yusaku and the 2005 Hanshin Juvenile Fillies with eighth-choice T M Precure. His 793 wins on the flat include 16 graded titles and a personal-best 51 wins in 1996, which ranked 17th on the jockey’s leaderboard.
Kumazawa, who started riding over obstacles from his second season, established himself as a first-class jump jockey in becoming a four-time JRA Award winner in 1999, 2000, 2002 and 2004. He has accumulated 11 grade-race titles since the steeplechase grading system was implemented in 1999 and was the first jockey to win G1 titles both in the flat and over jumps when he captured the 2012 Nakayama Daishogai with Marvelous Kaiser. He reached his 200th win over obstacles on March 28, 2015 and still remains the only jockey with over 200 wins both in the flat and over obstacles.
The JRA Equine Culture Award recognizes noteworthy achievements and contributions to Japanese equine culture. Nominations for the 2016 award included horse-related cultural events and publications that were held or published between November 2015 and October 2016.
Winner: “Satta no Kuroi Kouma”(Satta's black foal)
The Equine Culture Award for 2016 was presented to a children’s book entitled “Satta no Kuroi Kouma” written by Mugiho Omata and illustrated by Yuki Sasameya. The heartwarming story about children growing up through their relationships with horses is embellished with wonderful descriptions of country life and the characteristic behavior of horses. Wonderful illustrations are woven seamlessly into the narrative to convey the world of children centered on their village and the inspirational impact horses can have on young people. The book was highly acclaimed by the judges as the 2016 JRA Award winner.
The story takes place in a Nagano Prefecture village where rearing horses is a common vocation. When the village children come of age, they are given the responsibility of caring for a foal. Two boys — sweet, timid Satta and the somewhat rough and bossy Senkichi—both have their eyes on the same little black foal. The village leader decides to put them through a test to see which boy is best suited to raising the black foal. Satta and Senkichi struggle to find out what it truly means to be fair and courageous in the journey to adulthood, as the villagers watch over them with love and compassion.
A native of Nagano Prefecture born in 1977, Mugiho Omata earned a degree in graphic design from the Nippon Design College and wrote novels as a hobby while working as an office clerk. An illustrator as well as a writer, her works began attracting attention on the national stage in 2013. “Satta no Kuroi Kouma” earned her first prize, an honorable mention for newcomers, in the 56th Kodansha Awards for Children’s Literature. She also received a Matsumoto City Culture and Art Award in 2016 .
Tokyo native Yuki Sasameya was born in 1943 and lived in Paris and New York to study art for three years from 1970. He has been a highly acclaimed illustrator of book covers and children’s picture books since the 1990s. His many awards include the Shogakukan Award for Illustration (1995), the Kodansha Publication Culture Award forIllustration (1999), the Japan Picture Book Award (2000) and the Akaitori Award for Illustration (2008).
2016 JRA Trainer Ranking
2016 JRA Jockey Ranking