10/29/2010 11:51AM

Buena Vista heads tough Tenno Sho at Tokyo

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Buena Vista, the ultra-consistent 4-year-old daughter of Special Week who was an unlucky second to Dar Re Mi in the Dubai Sheema Classic in March, heads a competitive field of 18 at Tokyo on Sunday in the $3.1 million, 1 1/4-mile Autumn Tenno Sho, or Emperor’s Cup, one of Japan’s most coveted races.

Trained by Hiroyoshi Matsuda for Sunday Racing Co., Ltd., Buena Vista returned from Dubai to win the Grade 1 Victoria Mile, in which Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf hopeful Red Desire was fourth. Buena Vista has since finished a half-length second on June 27 in the 1 3/8-mile, Grade 1 Takarazuka Kinen to subsequent Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe runner-up Nakayama Festa. She has not run since then, but has run well fresh in the past. Christophe Soumillon flies in from France for the ride.

“She’s in much better shape than she was for her last two races,” trainer Matsuda said. “We’re eyeing horse of the year this season and want to win every race that’s available to us, but we have to take it one race at a time.”

The Autumn Tenno Sho serves as the key local prep for the 1 1/2-mile Japan Cup, which will be run at Tokyo on Nov. 28.

Earnestly was third in the Takarazuka Kinen and has since won the 1 1/4-mile, Grade 2 Sapporo Kinen and is clearly a threat with Espoir City’s rider, Tetsuzo Sato, aboard. Aliseo is coming off a win in the 1 1/8-mile, Grade 2 Mainichi Okan but has drawn disadvantageously wide in post 18. Jaguar Mail won the Spring Tenno Sho going two miles at Kyoto in May but was only eighth in the Takarazuka Kinen last time. He is better judged on his half-length second to Buena Vista in the 1 3/8-mile, Grade 2 Kyoto Kinen on Feb. 21.