The Japan Cup remains one of the highlights on the Japan Racing Association (JRA) calendar, and through the years, has brought many of the biggest names in the racing world to Tokyo Racecourse.
This year’s version is set for this Saturday and it looks like it will produce another winner from the Japanese contingent for the eighth straight year with just three ageing horses from overseas – who have just one win among them this season – set to enter in the JRA’s international showpiece.
With a thin foreign contingency and Orfevre, Kizuna and last month’s fall Tenno Sho champion Just a Way absent, all eyes will be on 2012 Horse of the Year Gentildonna and her 4-year-old rival Gold Ship.
Gold Ship comfortably came out on top when the pair met in Hanshin back in June for the Takarazuka Kinen over 11 furlongs, but Gentildonna has credentials to reverse the form with Gold Ship over the mile and a half of the Tokyo course having scored two of her most important career victories here in the 2012 Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks) and Japan Cup.
The last foreign-trained horse to win this race was Alkaased of the UK back in 2005. Will the Japanese home-grown winning streak continue this year, or will a foreign-trained horse turn up to revive past glories?
Japan Racing on TwinSpires starts at 8pm ET/5pm PT this Saturday.
FREE Past Performances for the horses nominated to the Japan Cup
2013 Japan Cup Infomation
Date: Saturday, November 23
Where: Tokyo Racecourse, Japan
Distance: 2,400 meters, Turf (about 12 furlongs)
Conditions: 3yo & up
Purse: over 271 million yen (about US$ 3 million)
About the Japan Cup
The JRA created the Japan Cup in 1981, driven by the goal to raise the level of Japanese racing to world-class standards. The Japan Cup has always been held in late November over 12 furlongs at the Fuchu track, apart from 2002 when it was run at Nakayama due to renovation work at Tokyo. Along with the Arima Kinen (the Grand Prix), the two Tenno Sho races and the Triple Crown series, the Japan Cup remains one of the highlights on the JRA calendar, having brought to the country many of the biggest names in world racing – both human and equine.
The inaugural Japan Cup was open to only horses from North America and Asia before Europe and Oceania joined the guest list the following year. In 1992, the Japan Cup became the JRA’s first Grade 1 race approved by the International Cataloguing Standards and from 1999 to 2005, it was a part of the Emirates World Racing Championship, then the game’s preeminent global tour.
The Japan Cup Dirt carries a total purse of over 271 million yen (about US$ 3 million). First place pays 130 million yen, second place 52 million. Prize money and participation incentives are awarded through the eighth-place finisher.
The race has only been won by a foreign-based runner, in 2003 by the 5-year-old longshot, the Doug O’Neill-trained Fleetstreet Dancer from the U.S.
Past Winners of the Japan Cup
|2011||Buena Vista(JPN)||Hiroyoshi Matsuda||Tosen Jordan(JPN)||Jaguar Mail(JPN)|
|2010||Rose Kingdom(JPN)||Kojiro Hashiguchi||Buena Vista(JPN)||Victoire Pisa(JPN)|
|2009||Vodka(JPN)||Katsuhiko Sumii||Oken Bruce Lee(JPN)||Red Desire(JPN)|
|2008||Screen Hero(JPN)||Yuichi Shikato||Yuichi Shikato||Vodka(JPN)|
|2007||Admire Moon(JPN)||Admire Moon(JPN)||Pop Rock(JPN)||Meisho Samson(JPN)|
|2006||Deep Impact(JPN)||Yasuo Ikee||Yasuo Ikee||Ouija Board(GB)|
|2005||Alkaased(USA)||Luca Cumani||Heart’s Cry(JPN)||Zenno Rob Roy(JPN)|
About Tokyo Racecourse
Tokyo Racecourse boasts the best and largest facilities of the 10 JRA venues.
Tokyo Racecourse located in Fuchu city, was built in 1933, and is considered the ‘racecourse of racecourses’ in Japanese horseracing. A grand opening was held in 2007 after the completion of seven years renovation work. The course has become emblematic of the next-generation racecourse with the multi-screen “Turf Vision”, recognized as the world’s largest TV screen, which displays sharp, powerful images and a wealth of information on its three High Definition screens. The major races are the Japan Cup (G1), the Tokyo Yushun (the Japanese Derby), the Tenno Sho (autumn; G1), the Yasuda Kinen (G1), the Yushun Himba (the Japanese Oaks), the February Stakes (G1), the NHK Mile Cup and the Victoria Mile.
The oval occupies an area of nearly 200 acres and measures just short of 2,120 meters in circumference. The left-handed track undulates throughout, with a gentle downward slope along the backstretch followed by more ups and downs going into the final bend. The home stretch spanning more than half a kilometer is truly punishing, with the course rising 2 meters over the last 140 meters.
Tokyo Racecourse Description
The Japan Cup is run over 2400m on turf on a left-handed track. The race starts from the homestretch, about 300m from the winning post. The first 440m run to the first turn is flat, leading into the backstretch. After traveling 1100m, there is a gentle slope of 1.8m (0.23%) going down from 780m. From this point, there is a sharp rise of 1.2m (2%) for 60m, and after running flat for 80m, just before the third turn, there is another slope of 2.2m (0.64%) going down for 260m. Leading into the final 525m homestretch, there is a gradual rise of 30cm (0.3%) for 100m and a steady uphill of 2m (1.7%) for 120m, with a flat final 300m remaining to the winning post.