02/14/2011 12:04PM

To the Glory scores in Kyoto Kinen


To the Glory signaled that he will be a force to be reckoned with in Japan this year when he beat a top-class field in the Grade 2, $1.4 million Kyoto Kinen at Kyoto Racecourse on Sunday. The 4-year-old son of King Kamehameha defeated the mare Meisho Beluga by three-quarters of a length in the 1 3/8-mile contest, covering the distance in 2:13.90 on firm ground as the 7-5 favorite.

Trained by Yasuo Ikee and ridden by Italian Umberto Rispoli, To the Glory had a pair of Japanese St. Leger winners, Big Week and Oken Bruce Lee, back in sixth and seventh, respectively. The winner had shown that he was ready to take on first-class competition last time on Dec. 26 when he was just a neck third behind Victoire Pisa and Buena Vista in the Grade 1 Arima Kinen.

Those two are headed for the Dubai World Cup on March 26, but To the Glory, who was bred by Northern Racing and races in the colors of U. Carrot Farm, will stay at home this spring. In the meantime, owner Koji Maeda announced that his Japan Cup Dirt winner Transcend has accepted an invitation to run in the $1 million Godolphin Mile on World Cup Night.

The run-up to the Japanese classics began this weekend. At Tokyo on Saturday, Nakayama Knight scored a neck victory in the Grade 3, $903,000 Kyodo News Service Hai, a 1 1/8-mile trial for the 1 1/4-mile Japanese 2000 Guineas. Sent off at 3.90-1, the Stay Gold colt hit the wire in 1:48.50 on firm ground.

On Sunday at Tokyo, Whale Capture won the Grade 3, $857,000 Daily Hai Queen Cup, a one-mile prep for the one-mile Japanese 1000 Guineas. The Kurofune filly, who had run Japanese juvenile filly champ Reve d’Essor to a half-length when second in the Grade 1 Hanshin Juvenile Fillies in December, prevailed by three-quarters of a length from Meine Isabel, who had been sixth in the Hanshin Juvenile Fillies. The 2.60-1 favorite covered the firm mile in 1:35.40.