12/07/2009 12:00AM

Espoir City cruises in Japan Cup Dirt


Espoir City led throughout to win the $2.8 million Japan Cup Dirt at Hanshin on Sunday as the James Bond-trained U.S. invader Tizway weakened to finish 13th in the 16-runner field.

Sent off as the 2.10-1 favorite off three consecutive victories on dirt, Espoir City and his rider, Tetsuzo Sato, gave nothing else a chance in the 1 1/8-mile Grade 1. A 4-year-old son of the Sunday Silence stallion Gold Allure, Espoir City went right to the front with 34.30-1 Tizway and Rajiv Maragh pressing the pace early before settling a bit further back in second. Espoir City had a two-length lead entering the stretch, by which time Tizway was already backing up. Espoir City was not hard ridden to increase his lead to 3 1/2 lengths at the line as he stopped the clock in 1:49.90 on a track labeled fast.

Silk Mobius and Golden Ticket closed well to finish second and third, while 2007 winner and last year's third Vermilion, the second choice of the betting public at 2.70-1, came home a one-paced eighth, 7 1/2 lengths behind Espoir City. The highly regarded 3-year-old Wonder Acute tracked the leaders early but had no rally in finishing sixth.

"Espoir City is still a baby in many ways and has room for improvement," said winning trainer Akio Adachi. "As for future plans, including possible overseas endeavors, I will have to discuss that with his owners at Yushun Horse."

"We wanted to race in front but were unable to match the winner's speed," said Tizway's rider Maragh. "He ran well in the backstretch but doesn't really have the ability to win a Grade 1 yet."

* Norihiro Yokoyama won his second World Super Jockeys Series with a victory and a sixth-place finish in the four-race, two-day contest at Hanshin on Saturday and Sunday. Yokoyama scored a total of 47 points to defeat the Hong Kong-based Australian Doug Whyte, who also won one of the four races, by 9 points. Calvin Borel got off to a fast start on Saturday, winning the seven-furlong Golden Saddle Trophy on turf aboard the 9-10 favorite Oceania Boss. Borel, however, finished 12th, 13th and seventh on his other three mounts to finish sixth overall. Garrett Gomez was unplaced in all four of his rides to finish 14th of 15.