11/26/2011 9:38AM

Japan Cup victory would complete a dream year for Yoshida


TOKYO - So far in 2011, Japanese owner Teruya Yoshida has won the Dubai World Cup with Victoire Pisa and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe with Danedream.

Few owners in the world have stables that can win both races in a lifetime, let alone a season. The accomplishments are not lost on Yoshida, who is part of the first family of Japanese racing.

“It’s amazing that it’s happened in one year,” he said on Friday. “I’ve had a lot of luck this year.”

There may be more to come. Both horses, which Yoshida co-owns, are leading contenders in Sunday’s $6.7 million Japan Cup at Tokyo Racecourse.

Victoire Pisa has not started since the Dubai World Cup in March; Danedream will attempt to become the first Arc winner to take the Japan Cup.

Yoshida prefers the chances of Danedream, expressing concern that the layoff could hurt Victoire Pisa’s chances in the Japan Cup, which is run over 1 1/2 miles on turf.

“It isn’t easy to race at such a long interval,” Yoshida said. “After the Dubai World Cup, he was stressed too much and we rested him for a while.”

Victoire Pisa’s Dubai World Cup win occurred just two weeks and a day after a devastating earthquake and tsunami struck eastern Japan. The result of the horse race was trivial compared to that tragedy, but Yoshida said it provided a momentary sporting distraction for the Japanese public. For Japanese racing, it was a milestone first win in the world’s richest race.

“Everyone was so, so happy,” he said. “That was the first time for Japan. It was exciting to do that.”

A win by Victoire Pisa in the Japan Cup would be equally as popular, but Yoshida is skeptical. He is excited about the chances of Danedream, describing her as being “in top form. I think she has a very good chance.”

On Saturday afternoon in Japan, Danedream was the 5-2 favorite in the 16-horse Japan Cup field, a slight choice over the 5-year-old mare Buena Vista.

The best finish for an Arc winner in the Japan Cup was a third by Helissio in 1996, although Yoshida is quick to point out that Magic Night was second in both races in 1991.

His family name is synonymous with world-class racing. Yoshida operates Shadai Farm in northern Japan, which was developed by his later father, Zenya. Sunday Silence, the 1989 North American Horse of the Year, stood as a stallion at Shadai before his death in 2002. Shadai Farm is home to such stallions as 1992 Kentucky Derby winner War Emblem, and the Japan Cup winners Deep Impact, Falbrav, Special Week, and Zenno Rob Roy.

With such stallion power, Yoshida is constantly upgrading his team of mares.

Earlier this fall, he bought the 2-year-old filly Elusive Kate, winner of the Group 1 Prix Marcel Boussac at Longchamp on the same program as Danedream’s Arc win; and Stacelita, the winner of the Beverly D. and Flower Bowl Stakes for turf females this year in the United States.

Sunday, he may be upgrading his trophy cabinet.

Three horses at 5-2 in early betting

Danedream, the winner of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe last month, was a slight favorite at 5-2 for the Japan Cup as of 3 p.m. on Saturday, Japan time.

Danedream was listed at odds of 2.6-to-1, ahead of the Japanese star mare Buena Vista, who was also 5-2, at 2.8-to-1. Buena Vista, who finished first in the 2010 Japan Cup but was disqualified and placed second for causing interference, is winless in four starts in Japan this year.

The Japan Cup has a post time of 1:20 a.m. Eastern on Sunday.

Three other horses were listed at single-digit odds as of Saturday afternoon – Pelusa, third in the Group 1 Tenno Sho Autumn at Tokyo on Oct. 30, was 7-1, followed by Dubai World Cup winner Victoire Pisa and Tenno Sho Autumn winner Tosen Jordan at 9-1.

Aside from Danedream, there are three other foreign-trained runners in the field. Shareta, second in the Arc, was 28-1; Sarah Lynx, winner of the Grade 1 Canadian International at Woodbine on Oct. 16, was 60-1; Mission Approved, the winner of the Manhattan Handicap at Belmont Park in June and the lone American hopeful, was 90-1.

Other notable prices were 20-1 on Rose Kingdom, the promoted winner of the 2010 Japan Cup, and 11-1 on Win Variation, who was second in the Japanese Derby and Japanese St. Leger earlier this year.