11/28/2010 1:08PM

Japan Cup goes to Rose Kingdom after controversial DQ of Buena Vista

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Buena Vista had the $5.7 million Japan Cup taken away from her by the stewards at Tokyo Racecourse on Sunday in a controversial decision that denied the nation’s most popular horse a clear-cut victory. In place of the 9-10 favorite, the 8-1 runner-up Rose Kingdom was declared the winner.

After Buena Vista had stormed to the lead at the furlong pole under Christophe Soumillon for a seeming 1 3/4-length victory, the stewards put the inquiry sign up. They had spotted an infraction just outside of the eighth pole as Buena Vista had made her winning move, during which she had borne in on Rose Kingdom, whose rider, Yutaka Take, snatched his mount up. Meanwhile, Soumillon and Buena Vista had returned to the winner's circle in apparent triumph. They and their connections, trainer Hiroyoshi Matsuda and his owners at Sunday Racing Co. Ltd., endured a 24-minute examination of the video before the numbers of the first two were reversed, much to the horror of the huge crowd. Sunday Racing Co. Ltd. could not have been too displeased, however, as they own both Rose Kingdom and Buena Vista.

After having endured what amounted to little more than a brushing, Rose Kingdom got back up to cross the line second, a nose in front of Japanese 2000 Guineas winner Victoire Pisa. Cirrus des Aigles finished the best of the eight foreign raiders in ninth with Canadian International winner Joshua Tree 10th. Arc runner-up Nakayama Festa weakened to finish 14th as the 6-1 second choice, beaten six lengths in all. The Ian Black-trained Canadian entry Fifty Proof, sent off at 88-1, was close up in second or third until the quarter pole, when he was bumped and weakened to finish a tailed-off last of 18 under Justin Stein, who said his mount “was going nicely, but he was used up in the latter stages and couldn’t give any more.”

Despite the controversy surrounding the race, the victory of the Kojiro Hashiguchi-trained Rose Kingdom was not entirely unexpected. He had finished second in the Japanese Derby in which Victoire Pisa was third. After a four-month layoff he then won the 1 1/2-mile, Grade 2 Kobe Himbun Hai, beating Japanese Derby winner Eishin Flash into second. Most recently he had been second in the 1 7/8-mile Japanese St. Leger. The victory was the third in the Japan Cup for rider Take, who had previously scored with Special Week in 1999 and Deep Impact in 2006.

“I am happy to have won the race,” he said. “Just when we were about to hit the accelerator, we were bumped two or three times from the outside and the inside. In any case, Rose Kingdom finished strongly.”

A rematch between Rose Kingdom and Buena Vista is anticipated on Dec. 26 at Nakayama in the 1 9/16-mile Arima Kinen.

Ryan Moore captures Tokyo jockey competition

On Saturday at Tokyo, Ryan Moore won the World Super Jockeys crown, defeating a sterling group of international riders as well as some of Japan’s best. The Englishman landed the first leg of the three-race contest, a one-mile dirt allowance, aboard the 9-2 Bokuno Taiyo, beating out Soumillon’s mount Peace of Power by a neck. The second leg, a 1 1/4-mile turf allowance, went to local rider Yuichi Fukunaga on the 5-2 favorite Snow Crusher. Moore clinched the title by finishing fourth in the third leg, a one-mile turf allowance, on the 28-1 Rhythmical Step in a race won by Irishman Johnny Murtagh aboard the 8-5 favorite Kenya Black.

Moore outpointed Australian Craig Williams, 33-32, for the victory as Murtagh finished third with 30 points. American representative Mike Smith placed 13th of 15 with finishes in 12th, 15th and ninth, the last aboard the 5.60-1 third choice Meiner Elf. Smith also finished 11th in two other rides outside of the jockeys’ competition.