01/04/2010 12:00AM

Japan's classics to be open


For the first time in history, the Japanese classics will be open to foreign-trained horses in 2010. As a result, the Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby), Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks), Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas), Oka Sho (Japanese 1000 Guineas), and Kikuka Sho (Japanese St. Leger) will now be officially recognized as international Grade 1 events.

In previous years, those races had been run as ungraded stakes for international purposes. The Japan Racing Association has pursued a more vigorous policy of accommodating foreign-trained horses in recent years, and opening its classics to all comers is the latest step in that program.

In all, 123 Japanese graded races will be open to foreign-trained horses this year, 15 on dirt, all the others on turf. These break down to 22 Grade 1's, 34 Grade 2's and 67 Grade 3's. Also open to foreign horses for the first time will be Japan's two leading juvenile races, the Hanshin Juvenile Fillies and the Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes, both on turf.