Post Time : 15:40 local
November 29, 2015, 2400m, Turf
Special Weight, 3-Year-Olds & Up, Gr1 Open Class
FINAL FIELD (NUMBER = BARRIER)
1 Lovely Day (JPN) H5 57.0
Five-year-old late developer Lovely Day is enjoying his best season yet as he is coming off a four-grade-race winning streak, which includes two G1 titles—the Takarazuka Kinen in June, in which he took the lead after pressing the pace in second and accelerated strongly in the last 200 meters for his first G1 title, and the Tenno Sho (Autumn), his latest start in November, where the son of King Kamehamehawas rated toward the front and easily stole the lead before the furlong pole to pull away, while repelling a strong challenge from the runner-up, for a half-length victory.
Winning his first two starts as a two-year-old, the Yasutoshi Ikee-trained dark bay scored a runner-up effort in his first graded attempt in the Keio Hai Nisai Stakes and concluded the season with a seventh in the Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes. While his four starts against three-year-olds including two Classic races were not so productive, his best performance being fifth, he scored two consecutive runner-up efforts in the G3 and G2 events against older calibers before concluding his three-year-old season with a disappointing 12th in the year-end “All-Star Grand Prix” Arima Kinen.
Lovely Day kicked off his four-year-old season with a marginal third-place finish in the G3 Chunichi Shimbun Hai and registered his first win in over 19 months in the following Metropolitan Stakes where he took command 200 meters out and clocked the fastest last three furlongs over the same course as the Japan Cup. His four graded starts that followed were not as successful though he was always within contention, finishing between fourth and sixth.
Lovely Day kicked off his five-year-old season with back-to-back victories in the Nakayama Kimpai and the Kyoto Kinen where he won over a fierce duel with Suzuka Devious while defeating multiple grade-race winners Kizuna and Harp Star. While unable to exert his ability in longer distances over 3,000m in the following two starts, he was back on the winner’s podium with four consecutive victories over 2,000-2,400m distances.
2 Trip To Paris (IRE) G4 57.0
Trip To Paris is a progressing four-year-old stayer who has enjoyed a successful season this year, during which he has scored four wins including a G1 victory in the Gold Cup, two seconds and a third while proving extremely consistent in finishing within the first five in all ten starts. Trainer Edward Dunlop, who has brought a number of runners to Japan and has succeeded in a back-to-back victory with Snow Fairy in the Queen Elizabeth II Commemorative Cup (2010, 2011), will be saddling his most recent prize stayer in the Japan Cup since Joshua Tree in 2013 (17th).
Trip To Paris kicked off his racing career as a two-year-old with a disappointing 14th in a field of 16 at Sandown but quickly notched his first win a week later under Ryan Moore on an all-weather track. He capped off the season with a runner-up effort at Newmarket but was still unable to show much in the first three starts of his three-year-old campaign. He registered his second career win in the Canisbay Bloodstock Handicap, rated well off the pace early and demonstrating a strong hold once taking command with a little over a furlong to go for a comfortable 1-3/4-length victory.
He concluded his 2014 season with just the win out of seven starts, but his big break came in the following spring coming off a credible fourth in his four-year-old debut, in which he finished strongly despite some disadvantage at the turn, and the talented Champs Elysees gelding found his winning ways and quickly progressed, notching three consecutive wins prior to his runner-up effort in his group-race debut in the 3,270-meter Henry II Stakes. He proceeded to land his first group-race title at the highest level in the Gold Cup, stamping his claim as a prominent turf runner with staying power to cover distances between 2,400 meters to 4,000 meters.
Carrying extra weights in his following group-race starts in Europe, he finished third and fifth in the Goodwood Cup and the Lonsdale Cup, respectively, before embarking on his overseas challenge to Australia for the Caulfield Cup over 2,400 meters and the 3,200-meter Melbourne Cup. With much lighter weight to carry, Trip To Paris turned in a fast closing finish from racing near the rear to miss by 1/2 length to race favorite Mongolian Khan, raising expectations towards his following start in the Melbourne Cup. Well backed and starting from stall 14 in a 24-horse field, the bay gelding was kept in a prominent position from early in the race but was unable to challenge while staying well for fourth, two lengths behind the winner.
3 One and Only (JPN) C4 57.0
Last year’s Japanese Derby (Tokyo Yushun) winner One and Only kicked off this season with his first overseas challenge in the Dubai Sheema Classic in March where he stalked the leaders early, running alongside Dolniya and Flintshire—fifth and second finishers in the 2014 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, respectively—and though not quite able to keep up with the two, finished a credible third. While his performances since coming back home have not been successful, finishing 11th in the Takarazuka Kinen, sixth in the Kyoto Daishoten, and 16th in the Tenno Sho (Autumn), the son of Heart’s Cry hopes to bounce back and demonstrate his true ability at the same track where he claimed his Derby title.
Heavily beaten in his debut race in August of his two-year-old season, the Kojiro Hashiguchi-trained colt broke his maiden in his third start in September and finished a close second in the open class Hagi Stakes before making his first graded attempt in the Tokyo Sports Hai Nisai Stakes, in which he was beaten by Isla Bonita to sixth. He then claimed his first grade-race victory in the following Radio Nikkei Hai Nisai Stakes by displaying a powerful late charge and concluded his debut season with two wins and two seconds out of six starts.
One and Only came back 10kg heavier and kicked off his three-year-old season with a very close second in the G2 Yayoi Sho where he turned in the field’s fastest finish. He again ran the fastest final three furlongs in the following Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas), coming from way back, but belatedly for fourth place behind Isla Bonita. The dark bay colt then captured his first G1 title in the second leg of the Triple Crown, the Tokyo Yushun. The third favorite exerted his strong late charge after traveling around sixth along the rails and won out a fierce duel with archrival and race favorite Isla Bonita to deny the Satsuki Sho victor’s second classic title.
While landing his second successive graded victory in the following G2 Kobe Shimbu Hai, he finished a disappointing ninth in the 3,000-meter Kikuka Sho (Japanese St. Leger) and took on his first challenge against older G1 caliber in the Japan Cup then the Arima Kinen, which resulted in seventh and 13th, respectively.
4 Jungle Cruise (JPN) G6 57.0
Jungle Cruise makes a leap in class, challenging the top middle-distance runners both within Japan and from around the globe, in his first grade-race attempt in over three and a half years. Although having never faced G1company before, the six-year-old son of Jungle Pocket has performed well at Tokyo Racecourse where he has raced in half of his entire career, registering 2-4-1 out of eleven starts there.
With one win and a second out of two starts as a two-year-old, Jungle Cruise kicked off his three-year-old campaign with his first grade-race challenge in the Kyodo News Service Hai. Off slow and racing from behind, the bay colt displayed a strong finish but was unable to reach the leaders, finishing seventh to Gold Ship. While turning in two runner-up efforts in allowance races, he was unsuccessful in his other grade-race start in the Aoba Sho, in which he finished eighth, and was winless in seven starts that year.
Gelded prior to his four-year-old season, Jungle Cruise transformed into a consistent runner with two wins, three seconds and three thirds out of nine starts between 2013 and 2014—his only start in which he finished out of the money was over dirt—but disappointed to ninth when stepping up in class in his six-year-old debut, the Soshun Stakes.
With just the start in the first half of the season, he bounced back in August under Joao Moreira who rode him in the second leg of the World All-Star Jockeys at Sapporo to win by a dominating 1-1/4-length margin. Strictly a middle-distance runner, raced over distances between 1,800 and 2,400 meters, Jungle Cruise hopes to show further progress in his first start following a three-month break after his win at Sapporo and just his third start overall.
5 Pelusa (JPN) H8 57.0
Pelusa, who once excited the crowds at graded events with his powerful late kick in his early years, marked his first victory in over five years—the longest interval between wins in the history of JRA—in the Sapporo Nikkei Open this year, his previous being the Aoba Sho in his three-year-old season. Though finishing seventh in his latest start, the Tenno Sho (Autumn), the eight-year-old confirmed his improvement against multiple grade-race winners, accelerating strongly in the last 200 meters from way back to finish within four lengths from the winner.
Breaking his maiden in his first and only race as a two-year-old in 2009, Pelusa scored four consecutive victories including the 2010 Aoba Sho where he registered an impressive four-length victory in the Derby trial. Being posted second favorite in the Derby, the unbeaten chestnut was unable to break well and finished a disappointing sixth. His poor break affected many of his following starts including the Tenno Sho (Autumn), in which he was forced to travel second from last but displayed the strongest late kick to close in on Buena Vista for a two-length second. Missing his break again in the following Japan Cup, he could only close the gap to fifth place though again running the fastest in the last three furlongs. In the year-end Arima Kinen, he was able to break well and was forwardly position but did not stretch at the end to finish fourth.
Kicking off his four-year-old season with a runner-up effort in the 2011 Nikkei Sho, Perusa finished a disappointing eighth in the Tenno Sho (Spring) and was sidelined for six months before his second challenge in the Tenno Sho (Autumn) where the chestnut again exerted the fastest late drive for third-place, a length behind Tosen Jordan who renewed the course record by 1.1 second.
While finishing a close second in his first start the following year in the Shirafuji Stakes, he was under par throughout the season and was raced only one more time in the Yasuda Kinen where he finished last. His six-year-old season was also hindered by a broken wind, and it took him a year and a half and two operations to resume racing and another year and a half to pick up his form to mark his first win in five years.
6 Last Impact (JPN) H5 57.0
A proven runner in middle-long distances and a title-holder of three grade-races, Last Impact is coming off his first Tenno Sho (Autumn) attempt where he raced in mid-pack and with very little room in early stretch, was unable to fire to finish 12th. However, his fourth-place finishes in both the 2013 Kikuka Sho (Japanese St. Leger) and this year’s Tenno Sho (Spring) confirms his stamina and staying talent, while his Kinko Sho win in record time last season verifies his undeniable speed. He was within the top three runners that ran the fastest over the last three furlongs in seven consecutive grade-races and these achievements make the Deep Impact horse an outstanding delegate to show his strength in the upcoming Japan Cup.
Last Impact broke his maiden in his first start and was second in his only other start as a two-year-old. He kicked off the following season with a sixth in his grade-race debut in the Kisaragi Sho, and after scoring his second win in an allowance race, he was sent off to the Aoba Sho, the trial race for the Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby), where he was a neck short to pin the runner-up despite a good stretch run for third, consequently losing the opportunity to start in the Derby. Another allowance-race win in August earned him a ticket to the Kikuka Sho where, after being sent off eighth pick, he sat off the pace chasing the eventual winner Epiphaneia and finished more than seven lengths behind in fourth.
Given a break after his classics challenge, he won his 2014 season debut and claimed his first graded victory in the Kokura Daishoten, where he stormed to the front from a rearward position for a comfortable 2-1/2-length win. After marking two thirds in four grade-race starts, he landed back-to-back grade-race wins; the Kyoto Daishoten by a neck from racing in third, and the Kinko Sho two months later, where he showed the fastest last three-furlong dash after racing in mid-pack to win by a 1-1/2 length margin in record time. He was at the starting gate in the year-end Arima Kinen in which he fought well from mid-division and finished a promising seventh, only two lengths from winner Gentildonna.
Following a four-month interval, he began the present season in the Hanshin Daishoten in which he angled wide from a second-to-rear position to finish third, 4-1/4 lengths from winner Gold Ship. In the Tenno Sho (Spring), the five-year-old was seen once again coming from way back and ran the fastest in the last three furlongs on the rails to finish less than 1-1/2 lengths from winner Gold Ship for fourth.
7 Shonan Bach (JPN) C4 57.0
Four-year-old Shonan Bach has shown remarkable progress this year and is coming off his November Stakes victory in which he displayed the fastest last three-furlong charge from the far rear to overhaul all of his rivals and draw off to a 1-3/4-length win. The Japan Cup will be his first graded challenge in which he intends to stage his good turn of foot which recorded the fastest over the last three furlongs in eight of his 17 career races.
Unraced as a two-year-old, the Stay Gold colt was winless in his first five races in his debut season last year and was transferred from Yoshito Yahagi’s yard into the hands of Ryohei Hori at Sonoda Racecourse of NAR racing (National Association of Racing; local public racing) after which he immediately scored two wins in a row over dirt.
Changing hands again to be trained by Hiroyuki Uehara of the JRA from the beginning of this season, the bay colt claimed his first JRA win in April in an allowance race where he saved ground in mid-field and stretched well on the rails to win by a neck. Following a sixth in his next start where he finished less than two lengths from the winner, he displayed the fastest late charge after trailing near the rear to notch a neck victory in the Hong Kong Jockey Club Trophy.
He landed another win in the following Aganogawa Tokubetsu in August where he accelerated impressively from mid-division to take the lead in the last 100 meters, clocking the fastest finish over the last three furlongs once again to register a 1-1/4 length win. His November Stakes victory came after another two starts—a third-place finish and a fourth, by a length and 6-1/4 lengths margin, respectively.
8 Erupt (IRE) C3 55.0
Erupt has turned in a quite impressive debut season, unbeaten in his first four starts including a group-one victory in the Grand Prix de Paris, and coming off a fifth-place finish in his first test against his seniors in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe for his first overseas challenge in the Japan Cup.
Unraced as a two-year-old, the Dubawi colt was an immediate winner in a maiden over 2,200 meters at Lyon Parilly and proceeded to score his second win in a listed race there before landing his first group-race victory in the Prix du Lys at Chantilly, in which he ran close to the leaders and held off his rivals after taking the lead about 2-1/2 furlongs out and prevailed by a neck.
Trained by Francis-Henri Graffard, the three-year-old colt was recognized as an emerging Arc prospect after his group-one victory in the Grand Prix de Paris, run over the same course and distance as the most prestigious French G1 which attracts some of the best middle-distance horses from around the world.
While he experienced his first defeat in the Prix Niel following a two-month layoff over an extremely soft going which the green colt was unable to handle, finishing fourth in a seven-horse field, the Niarchos Family-owned colt did not disgrace in his fifth-place finish in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe behind the victor and multiple-G1 winner Golden Horn and other proven G1 winners such as Flintshire and Treve.
A progressing colt, improving with every start, he is considered to act best on good to firm going and over 2,400 meters which he has raced in all but one of his six career starts.
9 Derby Fizz (JPN) H5 57.0
Derby Fizz, having grade-race winning siblings, had been falling short of expectations in his early years but finally claimed his first graded title in the Hakodate Kinen in July this year as a five-year-old, in which he was rated in mid-division, improved his position along the backstretch and dueled strongly with Hagino Hybrid in the last furlong for a head win. While coming off a 15th-place finish in the Tenno Sho (Autumn), he will make use of his powerful late kick in the long stretch at Tokyo Racecourse where he has won three with three runner-up efforts out of 12 starts while being among the three fastest in the last three furlongs in nine of them.
Derby Fizz made his debut as a two-year-old, broke his maiden in his next start three weeks later and concluded his debut season with a tenth in his first grade-race challenge. Though kicking off his three-year-old season with a win, he was unable to make the two Classic races in spring, having finished seventh and 12th, respectively, in the two G2 qualifying races, the Yayoi Sho and the Aoba Sho. He was a nose second in the St. Lite Kinen in September, which earned him a spot in the Kikuka Sho (Japanese St. Leger), though finishing a disappointing 16th in his first G1 attempt.
Winless throughout his four-year-old season with two runner-up efforts and a third out of eight starts, he registered his first win in over two years in his second start of this season and scored another win before stepping up to open class, where the second favorite finished sixth in the graded Meguro Kinen.
He showed uplift in his performance during his summer campaign in Hokkaido, registering his first graded win in the G3 Hakodate Kinen in July and finishing a close third behind multiple-graded winner Decipher and Hit The Target in the following G2 Sapporo Kinen.
10 Sounds of Earth (JPN) C4 57.0
Four-year-old Sounds of Earth, while yet to capture a graded victory, has marked multiple runner-up efforts at the graded level including his latest start in the Kyoto Daishoten, in which he closed in on Lovely Day from 4-5th position while producing an impressive burst of speed at the stretch. The Tokyo Racecourse offers a long stretch that can be of advantage to his powerful late charge inherited from his sire Neo Universe.
Winless in his three starts of his two-year-old season while being posted race favorite in all—finishing fifth, second and fourth, respectively—Sounds of Earthlanded his first victory in his three-year-old debut by displaying a strong late kick from racing in midfield. After finishing third in the Wakaba Stakes the following month, he added another win in the Hanamizuki Sho before testing his ability in his following graded races. The dark bay ran persistently in the G2 Kyoto Shimbun Hai, coming in 1-1/4 length short of winner Hagino Hybrid.
Although finishing a disappointing 11th in the following Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby), the Kenichi Fujioka-trained colt returned to racing in the fall in better form, showing no signs of his earlier stiffness. His performance in the Kobe Shimbun Hai was quite impressive as the 11th pick dark bay rallied strongly with race favorite One and Only for a head second while fending off a fierce rally from Toho Jackal. In his second G1 challenge in the Kikuka Sho (Japanese St. Leger), the fourth-pick, running the fastest of the field in the last three furlongs, dueled strongly and finished a 1/2 length behind winner Toho Jackal who renewed the race record and course record by as much as 1.7 seconds.
As the connections opted not to start him in the Japan Cup as planned in consideration of his condition, Sounds of Earth concluded the season with two wins, three seconds and a third out of seven starts. Coming back from a five-month break, the son of Neo Universe kicked off this season with a fourth-place finish in the Nikkei Sho and a ninth in the following Tenno Sho (Spring), then was given another five-month break before marking a close second in the Kyoto Daishoten.
11 Mikki Queen (JPN) F3 53.0
Winner of two legs of this year’s fillies’ Triple Crown, Mikki Queen has chosen to face a mixed field of top G1 company in the Japan Cup instead of competing against an all-female field in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup in her first test against her seniors, with the intent of becoming the first three-year-old filly to claim the title since Gentildonna in 2012.
The Deep Impact filly registered a second in her debut start last year and notched her first win in her next race two weeks later by a promising two-length margin. Her first start of her three-year-old season was her first graded attempt, the G3 Queen Cup, in which she closed well by showing the fastest charge from far behind but was a neck short to finish second.
Although well rested and ready for an Oka Sho (Japanese 1000 Guineas) challenge, she was unfortunate in missing out in the draw for entry, but landed an open-class win on the same day and same racecourse as the first leg of the fillies’ classics. Qualifying for the second leg, Mikki Queen was sent off third favorite in the Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks) where she raced wide in mid-pack and pinned front runner Rouge Buck in the last half-furlong for a 3/4-length win. The filly gave her trainer Yasutoshi Ikee his first G1 title for fillies/mares.
The three-year-old was off slow in her Rose Stakes start this autumn, but showed the fastest last three-furlong charge from the far rear, catching all but the winner for a 1-1/2-length second. In the last leg of the fillies’ Triple Crown, the Shuka Sho, the widest-stall start did not hinder her performance whatsoever, as she demonstrated an amazing stretch run after powering through horses at the top of the straight to take command in the last 100 meters and prevail in record breaking speed, holding off a late charge by Queens Ring for a neck victory.
12 Gold Ship (JPN) H6 57.0
Gold Ship’s quirky temperament and unpredictable mood has been every bit the part of his popularity among many racing fans as well as his tremendous talent that has brought him 11 grade-race victories—six at G1 level. He has added two grade-race victories this year including the Tenno Sho (Spring), but on other occasions, he will refuse to perform which was the case in his latest start in the Takarazuka Kinen, in which he was rank at the gate and missed his break, didn’t want to respond and finished second from last. With the Stay Gold horse due to retire at the end of this year, his followers are eager to witness the gray turn in his best performance in his remaining starts.
With two wins out of four starts as a two-year-old, the Gold Ship landed his first grade-race win in the 2012 Kyodo News Service Hai. He then claimed his first classic title in the Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas) by a comfortable 2-1/2-length margin. Finishing fifth in the Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby), he came off another strong victory in his fall comeback start, the Kobe Shimbun Hai, and captured his second Triple Crown title, the Kikuka Sho, with a convincing win that was just 0.2 second short of the race record. Sent to post as the race favorite for his first test against senior rivals of the highest level in the Arima Kinen, he confirmed his outstanding power, which he preserved by passing up the Japan Cup, and exploded from last to first for his third G1 title.
JRA’s Best Three-Year-Old Colt kicked off an impressive four-year-old debut in the Hanshin Daishoten but was rather low-key in the following Tenno Sho (Spring), finishing fifth. He bounced back in the Takarazuka Kinen which he won again in the following 2014 season, but his first Japan Cup challenge was unsuccessful and he was heavily defeated to 15th—the first time to finish worse than fifth.
Gold Ship capped off the 2013 season with a third, more than nine lengths behind winner Orfevre in the Arima Kinen, then appeared to have regained his form with a dominating victory in the 2014 Hanshin Daishoten and the Takarazuka Kinen as well as a runner-up effort in the Sapporo Kinen prior to his overseas endeavor to France. However, he failed to deliver in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and disappointed to 14th. He did not start in the 2014 edition of the Japan Cup but finished a close third to Gentildonnain the Arima Kinen.
13 Hit the Target (JPN) H7 57.0
Hit the Target landed his fourth grade-race title this season in the Meguro Kinen and comes off an extended break following a runner-up effort in the Sapporo Kinen in August. Although yet to capture a G1 title after 42 career-starts over six seasons, the durable seven-year-old has pulled off upsets in big events and hopes to turn in a good performance in his third Japan Cup challenge.
Winless in five starts as a two-year-old, Hit the Target broke his maiden in his seventh career start and registered three wins and a second during 2011. Stepping up in class after winning his kick-off start in 2012, the Keiji Kato-trained four-year-old landed two consecutive wins including his first grade-race victory in the Niigata Daishoten. His second grade-race victory came in the Kokura Kinen in February of 2013 and he had notched a total of seven career wins at that stage but his quirky temperament and tendency to lean also made his chances of winning conditional—generally better from an inside draw—and his mood swings would often prevent him from performing to his ability in major races early in his career.
His shortcomings began to subside with age and the chestnut showed flexibility in his racing tactics in his fourth-place finish in the 2013 Meguro Kinen—angling out and powering through the center lane between rivals to reach contention. The late-developing five-year-old marked his third grade-race victory in the Kyoto Daishoten in which he executed an explosive charge from racing mid-field to pin down proven G1 winners, Tosen Ra and Gold Ship, then holding off Uncoiled for a neck victory. While winless during 2014, he raced against top runners in seven starts, four G1 and three G2 races, which included a close fifth-place finish in the Tenno Sho (Autumn) prior to his 12th-place in the Japan Cup.
He was still below par in his early starts this year but gradually picked up his form in May and he was not too far back, about four lengths, in his 11th-place finish in the Niigata Daishoten. He turned in an upset victory in his next Meguro Kinen which he won from racing off the pace in mid-field, splitting horses for the stretch run along the inside and drawing off for a 1-1/4-length victory. He also demonstrated his powerful late charge in the following Sapporo Kinen in which he was just short of reaching the leader by a head.
14 Ito (GER) C4 57.0
Ito from Germany registered his first G1 victory in the Grosser Preis von Bayern on November 1, in which he took command in the first furlong, widened the lead to two lengths coming into the straight and further quickened for a convincing victory, four lengths clear of odds-on favorite Prince Gibraltar. His owner and trainer who brought Ivanhowe, who also came off a win in the Grosser Preis von Bayern, to the Japan Cup last year, hope for the bay to exceed Ivanhowe’s sixth-place finish in partnership with the same jockey Filip Minarik.
Finishing third in his debut start as a three-year-old in April last year, Ito broke his maiden a month later in the following Kampler-Cup under Filip Minarik with whom he has partnered in all his races since. The son of Adlerflug marked another win in the following Preis von Engal & Volkers Commercial Mulheim with an impressive six-length victory before concluding the season with a disappointing eighth despite being posted race favorite.
Ito kicked off this season with an overwhelming 16-length victory in the Preis des Winzervereins Oberrotweil, which was only the beginning of his strong performances that followed. He scored another wire-to-wire five-length victory in the following listed race, the Grosser Preis der Gesundheitswirtschaft, before his first group race in the Grosser Preis der Badischen Unternehmer, which he claimed with another wire-to-wire victory, this time with a four-length margin.
In his first attempt at G1 level in the Grosser Preis von Berlin, Ito again led the field, widening the gap to five lengths at one point, but was overtaken by Second Step in the closing strides to finish three-quarters of a length behind in second. While his second G1 challenge resulted in fourth in the Preis von Europa, where he again took command but was outrun by Nightflower 200 meters out then by two more horses in the last 100 meters, the bay colt captured his G1 title in his third attempt in the Grosser Preis von Bayern a month later.
15 Shonan Pandora (JPN) F4 55.0
2014 Shuka Sho winner Shonan Pandora, instead of heading for the all-female Queen Elizabeth II Cup, faced a field of big-league contenders in the Tenno Sho (Autumn) this year as the only female runner and scored an impressive fourth-place finish. Sent off fifth choice, the filly lost ground from a wide-stall break but cleared the wire less than 1-1/2 lengths from the winner by demonstrating a powerful charge that tied the fastest finish. The Japan Cup will be her first start at the 2,400-meter distance but with proven results against tough competition in races at the highest level, an extra furlong should not be an issue in her sixth G1 challenge.
Following a runner-up finish in her only start as a two-year-old, Shonan Pandora broke her maiden in her kick-off start the next season. A fifth-place finish in her first grade-race attempt in the Flower Cup shattered her hopes of qualifying for the Oka Sho (Japanese 1000 Guineas), as it turned out was the case again in the Sweet Pea Stakes in May, the trial race for the Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks), where she finished fifth and was denied the chance to start in a spring classics.
However, after marking her second career win during her summer campaign, the Deep Impact filly earned her much awaited ticket to the Shuka Sho by marking a neck second in the trial Shion Stakes, where she closed well from far behind to take the lead at the furlong marker although pinned at the wire. Sent off third favorite in her first G1 challenge, the bay filly pushed through the leaders in the stretch and held off the fast-closing Oaks winner Nuovo Record to prevail by a neck. Up against more experienced rivals in the following Queen Elizabeth II Cup, she met traffic at the top of the straight and registered a sixth.
After scoring a ninth and an eighth in her first two starts of the season, the Sankei Osaka Hai and the Victoria Mile, respectively, Shonan Pandora tested her strength in the “all-star Grand Prix” Takarazuka Kinen as 11th favorite and, while she found herself in tight quarters in early stretch in the middle of the field, charged well on the rails in the last furlong to finish less than two lengths from the winner in third. Refreshed from a three-month break, she gave her all against a mixed field of graded winners in the G2 All Comers in which she angled wide from a mid-division position and was the fastest over the last three furlongs to claim a striking 1-1/2-length victory.
16 Curren Mirotic (JPN) G7 57.0
Curren Mirotic is a seven-year-old late developer who began racing at the graded level from the end of his five-year-old season but has shown prominent results since then. Although winless this year, he has fared well against top G1 caliber such as Lovely Day and Gold Ship in his five starts. His runner-up effort in the 2,200-meter Takarazuka Kinen in 2014 and third-place finish in the 3,200-meter Tenno Sho (Spring) this year, not to mention holding a course record in a 1,800-meter race, confirms his speed and versatility over various distances and the extensive experience he obtains should work to his advantage in his first Japan Cup challenge.
The son of Heart’s Cry landed a fourth in his only start as a two-year-old and claimed his first win in his third start at three, capping off the season with 2-0-1 in eight starts. Kicking off his next 2012 campaign as a gelding, he was consistent in his performances, finishing within the money in all of his six starts. He stepped up in class following his victory in the Tarumi Stakes in record time and claimed his first graded win in the G2 Kinko Sho where he chased the leader in second and pulled away from the rest of the field at the top of the stretch to win over subsequent multiple-G1 winner Lovely Day by a convincing 2-1/2-length margin. His first G1 challenge was in the year-end Arima Kinen in which he finished a promising sixth after being sent off sixth choice.
In 2014, he registered two fourth-place finishes in three graded races before demonstrating a good runner-up effort, crossing the wire three lengths behind Gold Ship in the Takarazuka Kinen. Well rested, the six-year-old made his first overseas endeavor in the Hong Kong Vase where he battled for the lead briefly in early stretch however finished fifth, 2-3/4 lengths from the winner.
Lightly regarded as tenth favorite in the Tenno Sho (Spring) in his second start of this season, he took the lead entering the lane and held well but succumbed to the speed of the fast closing Gold Ship and Fame Game in the final 100 meters to finish third. Although his two other G1 starts were not as noteworthy, he was 1-3/4-length third to Lovely Day in the G2 Kyoto Daishoten over 2,400 meters.
17 Admire Deus (JPN) C4 57.0
Admire Deus continues to progress and turn in impressive performances between injuries that have interrupted his career. Although he has yet to become a G1 winner, the quality of the field he won against in the Nikkei Sho this spring included two-time Tenno Sho victor and multiple grade-race winner Fenomeno, and other proven grade-race winners and past Japan Cup starters such as Win Variation and Hokko Brave as well as 2014 Kikuka Sho runner-up Sounds of Earth. The Japan Cup will be his second start this fall following the Tenno Sho (Autumn)—his first start in six months since the Tenno Sho (Spring)—in which he finished 11th after a belated charge that marked the fastest time over the last three furlongs from way behind.
The Admire Don colt scored a win out of three starts as a two-year-old and kicked off his three-year-old campaign towards the Triple Crown Classics with a third and two wins including a victory in the Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas) trial, the Wakaba Stakes. He did not disgrace himself in his ninth and seventh-place finish in the Satsuki Sho and Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby), respectively, but sustained a minor fracture in his left foreleg after the latter which ruled him out from racing for the rest of the season.
The four-year-old chestnut made a remarkable comeback after a seven-month layoff to register his first grade-race victory in the Nikkei Shinshun Hai, exerting a powerful turn of speed at Kyoto. He proceeded to score another grade-race victory by a comfortable 1-3/4-length margin while renewing the race record by a second in the Nikkei Sho. Sent to post third favorite for the Tenno Sho (Spring), Admire Deus missed his break from stall 17 and his jockey struggled to settle him in a good position then was bumped turning the last corner. Losing his momentum, he failed to fire and finished 15th, then pulled up with a fractured pastern.
18 Nightflower (IRE) F3 53.0
Three-year-old Nightflower celebrated her first G1 victory this fall in the Preis von Europa, in which she ruled over a mixed field of older horses gallantly by a good two-length margin. Her trainer Peter Schiergen, teamed with jockey Andrasch Starke, will be aiming to improve the sixth-place Japan Cup finish they marked with Arc winner Danedream four years ago.
Partnered with Andrasch Starke, who is currently racing under a short-term license in Japan from the end of October, the Dylan Thomas filly was sent to post favorite in her only race as a two-year-old last year where she inherited the lead after entering the lane, but was tagged just before the finish line for a 3/4-length second. She commenced her three-year-old season in France with two runner-up efforts; the first at Maisons-lafitte to subsequent Prix de Diane third-place finisher Little Nightingale by four lengths, and then at Chantilly where this time she finished 1-1/2 lengths behind Desiree Clary, who later registered a fourth in the Prix de Diane.
Back in Germany, the chestnut filly captured her first win in the G2 Diana-Trial in her fourth career start where, as race-favorite, she took over the lead at the furlong marker after chasing the leaders in third to land a comfortable 2-1/2 length victory. Sent to France again to make her first bid at the highest level in the G1 Prix de Diane (French Oaks), she was keen early and had nothing to give at the critical stages after making headway along the outside, finishing eighth. Sent off third favorite in the Preis der Diana (German Oaks) in August, she settled on the rails in sixth after breaking from a wide stall and closed well to catch all but was 3/4-lengths short of the winner Turfdonna.
As second pick in the Grosser Preis von Baden, Nightflower tracked the leader in second and assumed the lead two furlongs out but was caught by a fast closing Prince Gibraltar in the last 100 meters for a 1-3/4 length second. Three weeks later, sent off as third favorite in the Preis von Europa, the filly traveled wide throughout the 2,400-meter trip in around sixth and advanced well to grasp the lead a furlong out to best the field of G1 runners in a perfect two-length G1 win.