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.