12/07/2014 12:13PM

Japan: Third time's the charm for Hokko Tarumae in Champions Cup


The third attempt at Japan’s top dirt race worked for Hokko Tarumae.

After finishing second in the Japan Cup Dirt in 2012 and 2013, Hokko Tarumae won the renamed $1,665,172 Champions Cup on dirt at Chukyo Racecourse in Nagoya on Sunday.

Imperative, the winner of the $1.5 million Charles Town Classic in West Virginia in April, had a troubled trip and finished 15th in the field of 16. Trained at Santa Anita by George Papaprodromou, Imperative was checked in traffic on the first turn and was not a factor through the final quarter-mile. Kent Desormeaux was aboard Imperative for his first start since a ninth-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita on Nov. 1.

Papaprodromou told Japan publicity officials that Imperative’s troubled trip left the 4-year-old discouraged.

“He had to be checked,” Papaprodromou said. “He doesn’t like that when you do that to him.”

Hokko Tarumae (9-2) won the Champions Cup by a half-length over 19-1 Namura Victor. Roman Legend, a 6-1 shot, finished 1 1/4 lengths behind Hokko Tarumae in the race over about 1 1/8 miles. Copano Rickey, the 2-1 favorite, finished 12th after a poor start.

Hokko Tarumae, a 5-year-old horse by King Kamehameha, races for Michiaki Yabe and trainer Katsuichi Nishiura. A winner of 13 of 27 starts, Hokko Tarumae was ridden by Hideaki Miyuki, his regular rider.

Earlier this year, Hokko Tarumae finished last of 16th in the $10 million Dubai World Cup at Meydan Racecourse in the United Arab Emirates, but emerged from the race with colitis, and later a muscle strain, that kept him out of action until last month. Nishiura said after Sunday’s race that a return trip to Dubai in March is a possibility.