11/24/2011 1:52PM

Japan Cup: Mission Approved takes brother act on the road


TOKYO – When the brothers Terikchand and Naipaul Chatterpaul claimed Mission Approved at Belmont Park in June 2010, they thought they were getting “a nice New York-bred,” Terikchand Chatterpaul remembers.

They were right. Mission Approved is a very nice New York-bred. He is also a Grade 1 winner in the Manhattan Handicap at Belmont Park in June and the only American representative in Sunday’s $6.7 million Japan Cup at Tokyo Racecourse.

In his first start after the claim, the Chatterpauls, who co-own Mission Approved, knew they had something better in their stable.

“After a month, we ran him in the Man O’War and he ran against Gio Ponti, the best turf horse in the country, and got beat a head,” Terikchand Chatterpaul said.

Terikchand, 46, is two years older than his brother, Naipaul, who trains Mission Approved and 17 others at Belmont Park. Another brother, Chonnell, works as a groom. The family is from the northern South American country of Guyana, where they were involved in racing. They have lived in New York for three years, where Terikchand works as a tow-truck driver in Queens, and helps his brothers at the stable.

The Manhattan gave the family their first win in a Grade 1 race, and began a series of conversations that led to the trip to Japan. A start in the Breeders’ Cup Turf at Churchill Downs earlier this month was not seriously considered because of high supplemental fees, Terkchand Chatterpaul said.

Mission Approved arrived in Tokyo on Nov. 10, and will be a longshot in a 16-horse field in the Japan Cup. In his last start, the Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic at Belmont Park on Oct. 1, Mission Approved finished fourth 13, lengths behind Cape Blanco.

“It was real soft in the Joe Hirsch,” Terikchand Chatterpaul said.

A firm turf course is expected in Tokyo on Sunday. “I think on this course he should run better,” Terikchand Chatterpaul said.

Thursday, Mission Approved was galloped in a right-handed direction for two circuits of the infield dirt track, or approximately 2 1/4 miles. Naipaul was aboard for the exercise, which was designed not to ask too much of the horse. Mission Approved did not jog or gallop in a left-handed direction, by the trainer’s choice.

“If I turn him around, he can get tough and do more than I wanted him to do,” Naipaul Chatterpaul said.

Mission Approved could set the pace, although Naipaul Chatterpaul said that the horse is not one-dimensional.

“If someone wants the lead, he can sit back,” Naipaul Chatterpaul said. “He does deserve the chance he’s getting. He can run.”

Hammond a familiar visitor

Tokyo Racecourse is a familiar destination for France-based trainer John Hammond in the fall.

Sunday, he has his fifth starter in the Japan Cup in the 4-year-old filly Sarah Lynx, the upset winner of the Grade 1 Canadian International at Woodbine on Oct. 16. The Japan Cup has been a long-term goal for Sarah Lynx, who began the year with only one win.

“That was the schedule we started the season with, hoping she’d be good enough to run in the international races in the autumn,” Hammond said on Thursday. “We had it in the back of our mind from some way out.”

Hammond’s best results in the Japan Cup have been third-place finishes by Dear Doctor (1992) and Hernando (1995). He was fourth with Arc winner Montjeu in 1999, and seventh in 2006 with Freedonia.

“We haven’t managed to win,” he said. “We’ll keep on trying.”

Sarah Lynx jogged and galloped on Tokyo Racecourse’s infield dirt track on Thursday morning, having done her final major workout in France.

Sarah Lynx was a 22-1 outsider in the Canadian International. She pulled clear of 15 rivals in the final quarter-mile to win by four lengths. Hammond was encouraged by the race, but knows that Sarah Lynx must show more on Sunday.

“She seems happy and we hope that she’s good enough to compete with these horses,” he said. “She’s a late maturing horse, and she’s improved with time and maturity. This is a big jump to the competition, without a doubt.”

The competition is led by Danedream, who left Hammond impressed with her five-length win in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

“Danedream put up an amazing race in the Arc,” Hammond said. “If she runs her best, she’ll be hard to beat for anybody.”

Rain unlikely

No rain is forecast in Tokyo in coming days. Temperatures reached the high 50’s on Thursday and similar conditions are expected, through the weekend.

The turf course is likely to be firm on Sunday, although Hammond described the conditions as closer to “good” than “firm” when he walked the course on Thursday morning.