02/18/2010 12:00AM

Clash of champions at Kyoto

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Buena Vista, Japan's champion 3-year-old filly in 2009, presents her Dubai Sheema Classic credentials at Kyoto on Saturday when she squares off with champion Japanese older horse Dream Journey in the $1.3 million, Grade 2 Kyoto Kinen.

The winner of both the Japanese 1000 Guineas and the Japanese Oaks last year, Buena Vista suffered narrow losses in each of her next four starts, most recently on Dec. 27 when she was a half-length second in the 1 9/16-mile Arima Kinen to Dream Journey himself. Trained by Hiroyoshi Matsuda, the Special Week filly will be ridden by Norihiro Yokoyama.

Dream Journey, who is also a possibility for the 1 1/2-mile Sheema Classic, proved adept at the Kyoto Kinen distance in taking the Takarazuka Kinen last June, beating Japanese Derby winner Deep Sky and Japan Cup winner Screen Hero into the bargain. A son of 2001 Dubai Sheema Classic winner Stay Gold, the 6-year-old Dream Journey is trained by Yasutoshi Ikee and will be ridden by Kenichi Ikezoe. Jaguar Mail, just a half-length fourth behind Daryakana in the 1 1/2-mile Hong Kong Vase on Dec. 13, has the best chance of upsetting the top two.

Japan is preparing a strong team for Dubai World Cup Night on March 27. In addition to Buena Vista and possibly Dream Journey, reigning Japanese Horse of the Year Vodka will run in the World Cup. Red Desire, who beat Buena Vista by a nose in the Shuka Sho, is slated for the Sheema Classic, while Espoir City and Success Brocken will both prep for the World Cup on Sunday at Tokyo in the February Stakes.