Led by defending champion Logotype (JPN) and Hong Kong runners Contentment (AUS) and Beauty Only (IRE), a field of 18 is set for Sunday’s one-mile, US$ 1,931,130 Yasuda Kinen (G1) at Tokyo Racecourse, with the winner receiving an automatic berth into the Breeders’ Cup Mile through the international Breeders’ Cup Challenge.
The Breeders’ Cup Challenge is an international series of stakes races whose winners receive automatic starting positions and fees paid into a corresponding race of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, which will be held this year for the first time at the Del Mar race track near San Diego, California on November 3-4.
As a part of the benefits of the Challenge series, the Breeders’ Cup will pay the pre-entry and entry fees for the winner of Sunday’s race to start in the Mile on turf, and will also provide a US$ 40,000 travel allowance for all starters based outside of North America to compete in the World Championships. The Challenge winner must be nominated to the Breeders’ Cup program by the Championships’ pre-entry deadline of Oct. 23 to receive the rewards.
The Yasuda Kinen is the fifth Breeders’ Cup Challenge race to be run in the Mile Division this year. The Mile qualifiers thus far are Legal Eagle (SAF), winner of the L’Oramin’s Queen’s Plate (G1) at Kenilworth in South Africa; Somewhat, who captured the Doncaster Mile (G1) at Royal Randwick in Australia and Top Casablanca (CHI), who won the Gran Premio Club Hipico Falabella (G1) at Club Hipico in Santiago, Chile. Saturday’sShoemaker Mile (G1) at Santa Anita Park in California will be the fourth Mile qualifier of the year.
Teruya Yoshida’s 7-year-old Logotype (JPN), trained by Tsuyoshi Tanaka and ridden from post 16 by Hironobu Tanabe, went wire-to-wire to win last year’s Yasuda Kinen by 1½ lengths over odd-on favorite Maurice (JPN). A dark bay son of Lohengrin (JPN) out of the Sunday Silence mare Stereotype (JPN), Logotype did not get to the winner’s circle in three subsequent starts last year, including a fifth-place finish in the Hong Kong Mile (G1) at Sha Tin in December. Logotype has had just one start this year, finishing third, 1 ¾ length behind Neorealism (JPN) in the one mile Nakayama Kinen (G2) at Nakayama Racecourse on February 26.
“He has good racing sense and he handled the Nakayama track well,” said assistant trainer Naoki Hayashi about Logotype’s last start. “Still, he has always been better suited to the wide-open, left-handed Tokyo course. If he can run at his own pace, at his own rhythm, he doesn’t have to lead. He is not showing his age at all and I think he can give us a good race this year as well.”
The biggest challenge to Logotype’s title defense could come from the 7-year-old gelding Contentment (AUS) and from the 6-year-old gelding Beauty Only (IRE), the first two finishers in the Champions Mile (G1) at Sha Tin in Hong Kong on May 7. Contentment, owned by Tak Wing Benson Lo and trained by John Size, will look to improve upon is 12th and last place finish in the 2016 Yasuda Kinen. In Group 1 competition this year, the chestnut son of Hussonet finished a neck ahead of Beauty Only at 25-1 in the Champions Mile. Contentment previously finished sixth in the Chairman’s Trophy (G2) at Sha Tin, and was second in the 7-furlong Ambitious Dragon Handicap on March 19. He was sixth, beaten just 1¾ lengths in the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup (G1) on February 26 at Sha Tin. Contentment will start from post 5 under jockey Joao Moreira.
Beauty Only, running in Group 1 company in Hong Kong the past 1½ years, will make his Japanese debut on Sunday. Owned by Eleanor Kwok Law Kwai Chung and Patrick Kwok Ho Chuen, Beauty Only closed strongly to finish second in the Champions Mile as the 12-5 favorite. He was also a second by a half-length in his prior race, the one-mile Chairman’s Trophy (G2) at Sha Tin on April 9. Late last year, Beauty Only, a bay son of Holy Roman Emperor, trained by Anthony Cruz, won impressive back-to-back scores in the one-mile Jockey Club Mile (G2) on November 20 and in the Group 1 Longines Hong Kong Mile on December 16, in which he prevailed by a half-length. Zac Purton will ride breaking from post 12.
Returning to the local horses, Tokyo Horse Racing Company’s Red Falx (JPN) has won four of his last six races in turf sprints, and most recently captured the seven furlong Keio Hai Spring Cup (G2) at Tokyo on May 13 over a yielding course. A 6-year-old son of Swept Overboard out of Vermouth (JPN) by Sunday Silence, Red Falx, trained by Tomohito Ozeki, came into the Spring Cup off a third-place finish in the 6 furlong Takamatsunomiya Kinen (G1) at Chukyo on March 26. Last December, he captured his first career Group 1, taking the Sprinters Stakes at Nakayama. Micro Demuro has the mount on Red Falx, breaking from post 6.
Also of interest is the Shadai Corporation homebred 6-year-old gelding Isla Bonita (JPN), the 2014 Japanese 2000 Guineas winner, who made his seasonal debut in April for trainer Hironori Kurita. Isla Bonita, a dark bay or brown son of Fuji Kiseki (JPN) earned a half-length win over Air Spinel (JPN) in the one-mile Yomiuri Milers Cup (G2) at Kyoto on April 23 as the 12-5 favorite. Prior to that, Isla Bonita closed out last year with three consecutive second-place finishes, including a loss by a head in the Mile Championships (G1) at Kyoto on November 20. Christophe Lemaire will ride Isla Bonita from post 15.
The 4-year-old Air Spinel has been in the money in all three of his starts this year, including a victory in January in the one-mile Sports Nippon Sho Kyoto Kimpai (G3) at Kyoto for owners Lucky Field Company and trainer Kazuhide Sasada. Yutaka Take will ride.
The Yasuda Kinen field, in post-position order and with rider assignments, is as follows: Talking Drum (JPN), Syu Ishibashi; Decipher (JPN) Hirofumi Shii; Sunrise Major (JPN), Kenichi Ikezoe; Ambitious (JPN), Norihiro Yokoyama; Contentment (AUS), Joao Moreira; Red Falx (JPN), Micro Demuro (JPN); Greater London (JPN), Yuichi Fukunaga; Air Spinel (JPN), Yutake Take; Longing Dancer (JPN), Kazuo Yokoyama; Clarente (JPN), Yasunari Iwata; Black Spinel (JPN), Kohei Matsuyama; Beauty Only (IRE), Zach Purton; Logi Chalice (JPN),Hiroyuki Uchida; Satono Aladdin (JPN), Yuga Kawada; Isla Bonita (JPN) Christophe Lemaire; Logotype (JPN), Hironobu Tanabe; Young Man Power (JPN); Masami Matsuoka and Staphanos (JPN), Keita Tosaki.
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