11/21/2013 12:40PM

Gentildonna tries for repeat in Japan Cup

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Gentildonna, the 2012 Japanese Horse of the Year, tries to become the first repeat winner of the Japan Cup, to be run at Tokyo Racecourse on Sunday. If the 4-year-old Gentildonna accomplishes that milestone, the $4,713,337 Japan Cup will be her first win this year.

Gentildonna is winless in three starts in 2013 – a second-place finish in the $5 million Dubai Sheema Classic in the United Arab Emirates in March, a third in the Takarazuka Kinen at Hanshin Racecourse in June, and a runner-up finish to Just a Way in the Tenno Sho Stakes in Tokyo on Oct. 27.

Gentildonna was beaten four lengths by Just a Way in the Tenno Sho over 1 1/4 miles. Just a Way is not part of the 17-horse field in the Japan Cup, run over 1 1/2 miles.

In 2012, Gentildonna overcame trouble in early stretch to beat even-money favorite Orfevre by a nose in the Japan Cup.

“I think if we get a run like we did last year, we’ll be in for a good race,” trainer Sei Ishizaka said earlier this week. “Recently, we’ve had a string of losses but she has run well.”

Gentildonna will be ridden by British-based rider Ryan Moore, his first mount on the six-time stakes winner. By Deep Impact, Gentildonna has won 7 of 12 starts, including the 2012 Triple Crown for Japanese 3-year-old fillies.

The expected favorite is Gold Ship, a 4-year-old colt who won the Takarazuka Kinen in June. Trained by Naosuke Sugai, Gold Ship was fifth in the Kyoto Saishoten over 1 1/2 miles at Kyoto on Oct. 6.

Sugai said earlier this week that Gold Ship has rebounded from that loss, and that the colt’s turn of foot is an asset.

“Gold Ship is totally switched on now, totally ready,” he said. “He’s the kind of horse that no matter what the distance, no matter what the course, he can always switch gears.”

The Japan Cup field has three foreign runners – Dunaden, Joshua Tree, and Simenon.

Dunaden, trained by Mikel Delzangles, was 11th in the Melbourne Cup on Nov. 5, a race he won in 2011. Dunaden is winless in eight starts since the Caulfield Cup in Australia in October 2012.

Joshua Tree, trained by Ed Dunlop, won the Canadian International at Woodbine on Oct. 27 for the third time in his career. The well-traveled 6-year-old Joshua Tree was 10th in the 2010 Japan Cup.

Simenon was fourth in the Melbourne Cup and second in the Ascot Gold Cup in England in June. As recently as the spring of 2012, the 6-year-old Simenon was running in top-class novice hurdle races over two miles in England and Ireland. Simenon is trained by Willie Mullins, the top steeplechase trainer in Ireland.

John Murray More than 1 year ago
Thank you Steve, for a very informative article. Is it possible to explain in depth parallels of Japanese, Aussie,and Oriental racing values such as purses and earnings, Graded stakes, equivalent performance ratings, and overall comparisons with NA and Euro metrics. I respect the quality of top Oriental horses and Stakes races but cannot grasp the meaning of it when compared to our own handicapping and breeding variables. The Arc de Triumphe, Dubai World Cup, Woodbine turf racing and British Champions day have become global racing racing benchmarks of excellence. How does a NA bred stallion standing in Japan, such as 49'er, actually measure up when compared to Gallileo, AP Indy, Montjeu in terms of sire earnings and breeding productivity, for example? How does a stakes winner with Japanese earnings of eg. $10 million compare to Goldikova, Frankel or Wise Dan's performances. Currency equivalents do not approach a global metric of common understanding in horse racing, Is there any evidence based research available on this issue. Anyone know?
tom scott More than 1 year ago
racism "allowed" in drf comments?