12/01/2013 10:39AM

Hanshin Racecourse: Belshazzar takes Japan Cup Dirt


Belshazzar, a Grade 3 winner in Japan earlier this year, won the richest race of his career in Sunday’s $2,655,577 Japan Cup Dirt at Hanshin Racecourse. Pants On Fire, a five-time stakes winner in the United States, finished last of 16 after becoming upset in the starting gate.

Belshazzar, a 7-1 chance, finished a neck in front of 14-1 Wonder Acute. Hokko Tarumae, the 9-10 favorite, finished third, a half-length behind Wonder Acute.

Belshazzar won his first Grade 1 in the Japan Cup Dirt, running 1 1/8 miles on a right-handed track in 1:50.40. Ridden by Christophe Lemaire, Belshazzar is a 5-year-old horse by King Kamehameha who races for Shadai Race Horse Co. and trainer Kunihide Matsuda. Belshazzar was third behind Orfevre in the 2011 Japanese Derby.

Pants On Fire, trained by Kelly Breen for George and Lori Hall, made his international debut in the Japan Cup Dirt. Pants On Fire was ridden by Gary Stevens, but the 5-year-old horse essentially lost all chance before the start.

“He reared in the gate to start and ended up nosebleeding, so I couldn’t push him any further,” Stevens said. “There’s nothing to say but that we were unlucky.”

Pants On Fire, the winner of the 2011 Louisiana Derby, was seventh in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Santa Anita on Nov. 1.

Amy Hurley More than 1 year ago
It continues to amaze me how the U.S. trainers send 1 or 2 horses each year to these year-end stakes in Japan, Hong Kong, etc. Sure, the money is great, but the American horses get their butts kicked year after year. Why ship halfway across the world just to finish dead last? Better to cash a smaller check at home.
Bryan Tripoli More than 1 year ago
Closed minded, cynical comment. You ship for the experience, the money is secondary. Plus, anything can happen. If the horse didn't rear up who knows of he would have been good enough to win? Definitely not you. If people know who's going to win then why would they even have to run the race? Btw.. They pay for your travel expenses if your horse is invited, so it basically costs nothing.
Hadrian Marcus More than 1 year ago
So....you'd rather take a shot at the Native Diver Handicap for $60,000 to the winner than get an all expenses paid trip to Japan to take a shot at $1,444,000 plus some bonuses...to the winner. Riiiiight.
Steve Morehouse More than 1 year ago
Pants on fire is a gr.3 horse I'm surprised he even got invited
Victoria More than 1 year ago
It's likely they wanted to have a US entry and had to dig pretty deep to get down the list to Pants On Fire. Getting a free trip... that's pretty weak. To send an overmatched horse across the Pacific to get embarrassed is not a good thing. I'm sure the owners could have afforded to pay for their own week's vacation without stressing their horse to the degree that this experience probably did. He's a decent Gr3 horse they put in against top international G1 company. Does he even crack the top 50 of US dirt runners? I doubt it. I'm all for US participants in International races when they are legit contenders. It's fun to watch and even better when one of our horses hits the board. This was one I cringed at from the first moment i read the news of his trip. Saratogafan (Victoria's husband)
Union_Rags More than 1 year ago
Good job Gary, always take care of the horse.
Ron Solberg More than 1 year ago
a great race.
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
Would love to see them give this Horse a chance, like Gr 3's at home...