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December 30, 2021 (Thu)

2021 International Review

Despite the ongoing pandemic, 2021 was a massive year for JRA-trained horses traveling abroad; 31 different horses traveled to five countries in 28 different races and won eight of them.

Five horses traveled to Saudi Arabia to participate in the second annual Saudi Cup meet on February 20th. The night started big for Japan with Pink Kamehameha(JPN) by Leontes(JPN), upsetting the Saudi Derby, giving Hideyuki Mori his second consecutive win in the race. The night continued with another big win, this time with Copano Kicking(USA) by Spring At Last(USA) blazing down the center of the track to pass the perennial bridesmaid Matera Sky(USA) by Speightstown(USA) in the Riyadh Dirt Sprint. It was a fantastic one-two finish for Japan. Japan's hope in the Saudi Cup wasn't as lucky for Chuwa Wizard(JPN) by King Kamehameha(JPN), finishing 9th in the world's richest race.

The five horses from Saudi Arabia traveled straight to Dubai to prepare for the Dubai World Cup meet a month later on March 27th. Seven other horses from Japan came to meet them a little over a week before the big day. Three Japanese trained horses were in the G2 UAE Derby, but sadly no one took home the top prize this year with Takeru Pegasus(JPN) by Dunkirk(USA) was 4th, France Go De Ina(USA) by Will Take Charge(USA) was 6th, and Pink Kamehameha(JPN) finished 10th. Dieu du Vin(JPN) by Declaration of War(USA) finished 13th in the G2 Godolphin Mile. Four horses participated in the G1 Dubai Golden Shaheen with Red le Zele(JPN) by Lord Kanaloa(JPN) had the best finish of the bunch, running a solid second. Copano Kicking(USA) was 5th, Justin(JPN) was 11th, and Matera Sky(USA) finished 12th. Vin de Garde(JPN) by Deep Impact(JPN) was much improved in his G1 Dubai Turf performance and finished a strong second. Two of Japan's best mares were in the G1 Dubai Sheema Classic, and they ended up locked in a duel with each other while the winner Mishriff(IRE) by Make Believe(GB) blew past them. Chrono Genesis(JPN) by Bago(FR) finished second, and Loves Only You(JPN) by Deep Impact(JPN) was a close third. Chuwa Wizard(JPN) by King Kamehameha(JPN) came out of his Saudi Cup experience much improved and gave Japan their best finish in the Dubai World Cup in about ten years, finishing second.

After a disappointing performance in the G2 UAE Derby, France Go De Ina(USA) traveled over to the United States to participate in the final two legs of the American Triple Crown. Ultimately proving to be a miler, he finished 7th in the G1 Preakness Stakes on May 15th and 8th in the G1 Belmont Stakes on June 5th.

Hong Kong's spring international meet on April 25th recruited five runners despite strict pandemic protocols. They had four runners in the G1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup with Loves Only You(JPN), who shipped in straight from Dubai, coming out on top in spectacular form. It was a significant race for Japan with Glory Vase(JPN) by Deep Impact(JPN) coming in second, Daring Tact(JPN) by Epiphaneia(JPN) coming in third, and Kiseki(JPN) by Rulership(JPN) finishing fourth. Danon Smash(JPN) by Lord Kanaloa(JPN) was back after winning the G1 Hong Kong Sprint last December and the G1 Takamatsunomiya Kinen in March but unfortunately finished 6th in the G1 Chairman's Sprint Prize.

Entscheiden(JPN) by Deep Impact(JPN) and Deep Bond(JPN) by Kizuna(JPN) shipped to France early so Deep Bond(JPN) could prep for the G1 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe a month prior in graded stakes races on September 12th. Deep Bond(JPN) put on quite a show in the G2 Prix Foy, winning in a thrilling fashion and getting the entire island of Japan excited about his chances in the Arc in October. His travel companion Entscheiden(JPN) ran 5th in the G3 Prix Lupin.

Chrono Genesis(JPN) traveled over from Japan to take on the G1 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe on October 3rd along with Deep Bond(JPN). However, torrential rains made for a wetter than usual race, and both horses seemed to find the bog challenging to navigate. Chrono Genesis(JPN) had the best finish, coming in 7th, while Deep Bond(JPN) was back in 14th. However, Entscheiden(JPN) was much improved for his second French outing and ran an admirable third in the G1 Prix de la Foret. Ikat(JPN) by Deep Impact(JPN) traveled over with Chrono Genesis(JPN) to run in an undercard race, the G1 Prix de l'Opera but finished 13th.

Japan had its largest contingency ever travel to the United States for the Breeders' Cup World Championships at Del Mar Racecourse in California on November 5th and 6th. Jasper Great(USA) by Arrogate(USA) was the lone two-year-old in the group of seven runners that made the trip over. He finished 10th in the G1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile on Friday. The rest of the shipment ran on Saturday with Pingxiang(USA) by Speightstown(USA) and Jasper Prince(USA) by Violence(USA) running 7th and 8th in the G1 Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile, respectively. Matera Sky(USA) made his final career start in the G1 Breeders' Cup Sprint and held on to finish fifth against the best dirt sprinters in the world. The big action came later in the afternoon when history was made by Loves Only You(JPN) became the first Japanese trained horse ever to win a Breeders' Cup race in the history of the event. Yuga Kawada expertly navigated her through the tight turns and traffic to impressively winning the G1 Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf. After some starting gate drama, Vin de Garde(JPN) finished 12th in the G1 Breeders' Cup Mile. The fireworks were not over; however, it was Marche Lorraine(JPN) by Orfevre(JPN) who delivered a genuine shock to the racing world when she kept her nose in front to win an insanely competitive G1 Breeders' Cup Distaff. Japan was able to leave the Breeders' Cup with two massive successes in the United States. A Japanese racehorse had not won a G1 in the United States since Cesario(JPN) by Special Week(JPN) in the 2005 G1 American Oaks.

Japan's international tour for the year ended somewhat bitter-sweet in the Hong Kong International Races on December 12th. The day started with a bang with Glory Vase(JPN) expertly capturing his second G1 Hong Kong Vase. The tragedy came in the next race, the G1 Hong Kong Sprint, when a horse went down at the top of the stretch taking down three other horses, including G1 Sprinter Stakes winner Pixie Knight(JPN) by Maurice(JPN). Resistencia(JPN) by Daiwa Major(JPN) was able to get up for second place, but Danon Smash(JPN), who was able to leap over the horse that fell in front of him, was eased to finish 8th. Pixie Knight(JPN) was later to discovered to have a fracture in his knee, chest bruising, and some blood in his airway. His jockey Yuichi Fukunaga was lucky to come out of the bad fall with only a fractured clavicle. Two of the Hong Kong horses that went down sadly were euthanized, but the other Hong Kong horse seems to be ok. Three of the four jockeys that went down came out with various fractures, but none were career or life-threatening, and one jockey could continue riding.

After the shock of the accident, the event continued. Hong Kong's superstar Golden Sixty(AUS) by Medaglia d'Oro (USA) was never in danger of losing the G1 Hong Kong Mile, and Japan's Salios(JPN) by Heart's Cry(JPN) held on for third. Indy Champ(JPN) by Stay Gold(JPN), making his final start of his career, finished 5th while Vin de Garde(JPN) was 6th and Danon Kingly(JPN) by Deep Impact(JPN) was 8th. The day ended on a happy note with Japan's one-two finish in the G1 Hong Kong Cup. Loves Only You(JPN) kept her international streak alive, holding off Hishi Iguazu(JPN) by Heart's Cry(JPN) by a head. Lei Papale(JPN) by Deep Impact(JPN) finished 6th. Loves Only You(JPN) became the first Japanese racehorse to win three international G1s in the same year, making history again. She retires going out the champion she continually proved to be all year long.

It was a very busy year for the Japanese abroad as the world starts to find ways to continue through the pandemic. If 2021 is any indicator, the future is bright for the Japanese on the international racing scene.

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Satomi Oka (Ms)
Satomi Oka Bloodstock Pty Ltd
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