The Gr.1 Emperor’s Cup (Tenno Sho) for 4YOs has attracted 15 nominations, and with no fillies or mares nominated, all horses will carry the set weight of 58kg.
The last seven years, the race has been run on firm ground, and the great Kitasan Black holds the record time, when he won in 2017 (following up his win in 2016) in a time of 3 minutes, 12.5 seconds.
The big race will be Race 11 on the card at Kyoto on Sunday, with a post time of 15:40 local time. Final declarations and barrier draw will be announced later in the week. Here’s a look at some of the top stayers expected to be in the lineup:
Fierement: The 4-year-old colt by Deep Impact is last year’s Grade 1 Kikuka Sho (Japanese St. Leger) winner. That race was run over 3,000 meters at Kyoto, showing the horse’s ability over a distance at the track. In just one race this year, he was beaten into second in the Grade 2 American Jockey Club Cup over 2,200 meters at Nakayama. His race jockey will be Christophe Lemaire, whose recent win on Saturnalia in the Grade 1 Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas) now means he has won every Classic race in Japan. Fierement is trained by Takahisa Tezuka.
Etario: Last year’s Grade 1 Kikuka Sho (Japanese St. Leger) runner-up can be considered a little unlucky, having finished second in seven of his 10 career races. Sure enough, last time he finished second in the Grade 2 Nikkei Sho over 2,500 meters at Nakayama in March, his only race so far this year.
Meisho Tekkon: The Manhattan Cafe 4-year-old blew his opponents away last time when leading all the way to win the Grade 2 Nikkei Sho at Nakayama in March, carrying 55kg.
Glory Vase: The 4-year-old colt by Deep Impact has just had seven starts and has won three times and finished second twice. He was fifth in last year’s Grade 1 Kikuka Sho (Japanese St. Leger), and he won his only race this year, the Grade 2 Nikkei Shinshun Hai over 2,400 meters at Kyoto. He is trained by Tomohito Ozeki.
Kafuji Prince: The 6-year-old has finished third and second in his last two races, the latest being the Grade 2 Hanshin Daishoten over 3,000 meters at Hanshin in March. Despite missing the whole of 2018 with leg problems, the son of Heart’s Cry looks to have returned to form after his latest big race finish.
You Can Smile: Followers of the 4-year-old colt would certainly have been smiling after his last race when he ran out a comfortable winner of the Grade 3 Diamond Stakes over 3,400 meters at Tokyo in February. He is another runner from the stable of trainer Yasuo Tomomichi.
Clincher: The 5-year-old by Deep Sky will be taking on his 7th Grade 1 race this time, and while he’s never actually pulled off a win at the very highest level, his record at Kyoto is certainly one to note, having never finished out of the first three at the track, including his second in the Grade 1 Kikuka Sho (Japanese St. Leger) in 2017, and his third-place finish in the Tenno Sho (Spring) last year.
1st Rainbow Line (H. Asami,Y. Iwata), 2nd Cheval Grand (Y. Tomomichi,H. Bowman), 3rd Clincher (H. Miyamoto,K. Miura), 4th Mikki Rocket (H. Otonashi,R. Wada), 5th Chestnut Coat (Y. Yahagi,M. Ebina ), 6th Tosen Basil (H. Fujiwara,M. Demuro), 7th Smart Layer (R. Okubo,H. Shii), 8th Albert (N. Hori,C. Lemaire), 9th Shiho (K. Sasada,S. Hamanaka), 10th Yamakatsu Raiden (K. Ikezoe,K. Matsuyama)
Distance: 3200 meters,(About 16 furlongs / 2 miles), Surface: Turf, Track: Right-handed, Qualification: 4YO & Up, Thoroughbreds, Weight: 4-y-o & up 58 kg,Allowances,2 kg for fillies and mares, Purse: ¥ 325,000,000 (as of 2018),1st: ¥ 150,000,000
Curated fro press release by JRA