Kitasan Black and Yutake Take win the Japan Cup at Tokyo
PICTURE: Masakazu Takahashi
By Keith Melrose 6:48AM 27 NOV 2016
Report: Tokyo, Sunday
Japan Cup (Grade 1), 1m4f, 3yo+, turf
FAVOURITE Kitasan Black, the champion stayer in Japan, landed the country’s richest race, the Japan Cup, making all under a measured Yutake Take.
The four-year-old won last year’s Japanese St Leger and the Tenno Sho (Spring, 2m) in May, but a top-level success over middle distances had eluded him until now. Drawn in stall 1, he never looked anything other than the winner as his jockey controlled the race from the off.
Having secured the lead into the first bend, Take stretched them out in the back straight and then allowed his mount a short respite before the final turn.
As the field fanned out across the track, challenges came and went, the strongest being a late surge from Sounds Of Earth. Kitasan Black was never threatened for more than an instant, however, and crossed the line around two and a half lengths clear, Take saluting the 85,000-strong crowd as he secured a fourth success in the race.
Cheval Grand also came home strongly to nick third. Gold Actor, another of the market principals who had held a good position throughtout, was fourth.
Europeans out of luck
Three European-trained horses had attempted to snap a dominance by the home players that stretches back to Alkaassed 11 years ago. Erupt looked to hold the strongest chance after finishing sixth last year, but he finished near the back of the field, along with Nightflower.
Grosser Preis von Baden winner Iquitos fared better, finishing seventh, but might have been even higher. Having turned in among the last handful, he ended up on the inside rail that jockeys had spurned all day but nonetheless rattled home.
The strongest European interest had been Ryan Moore, who had already ridden a double on the card, aboard Dubai Turf winner Real Steel. He was drawn 16 of 17 and while Moore elected to play for a handy position he sacrificed cover as a result and his mount took a while to settle.
The pair turned in still looking one of the winner’s bigger threats, but the horse again proved Moore’s enemy, edging right under pressure. They eventually faded into fifth.
The day belonged to Kitasan Black, however, who will reportedly have Dubai and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe on his agenda next year. His 80-year-old owner Saburo Kitajima, a famous singer in Japan, serenaded the crowd on the podium during the post-race presentation.