11/19/2010 1:27PM

Joshua Tree tops Japan Cup shippers

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Michael Burns
Joshua Tree (right) outduels Mores Wells to capture the $2 million Canadian International Stakes at Woodbine on Oct. 16. The rivals will meet again in next Sunday’s $6.1 million Japan Cup at Tokyo Racecourse.

Eight foreign horses were confirmed by the Japan Racing Association (JRA) on Friday for next Sunday’s $6.1 million Japan Cup at Tokyo Racecourse. The invading octet will be led by Canadian International winner Joshua Tree and includes a single North American hopeful, Canada’s Ian Black-trained Fifty Proof, the fifth-place finisher in the Canadian International.

There was a single defection from the foreign contingent Thursday when trainer Ed Dunlop announced that his English and Irish Oaks winner, Snow Fairy, would skip the 1 1/2-mile Grade 1 contest as she has not fully recovered from her victory in the Queen Elizabeth II Commemorative Cup at Kyoto on Nov. 14. Snow Fairy will be aimed at either the 1 1/2-mile Hong Kong Vase or the 1 1/4-mile Hong Kong Cup at Sha Tin on Dec. 12.

The six other foreign candidates for the Japan Cup include four from France. They are the Freddie Head-trained Grand Prix de Deauville winner and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe sixth Marinous, the Corinne Barande-Barbe-trained Prix Dollar winner and Prix du Conseil de Paris runner-up Cirrus des Aigles, the Thierry Doumen-trained Conseil de Paris fourth Timos, and Mores Wells, who was trained by Richard Gibson to finish second in the Canadian International.

Vittorio Caruso will saddle his Premio Federico Tesio winner and Premio Roma runner-up Voila Ici for Italy, while the James Given-trained Dandino, second in the Gordon Stakes and eighth in the St. Leger, will represent Britain. The Japanese defense will be led by Arc runner-up Nakayama Festa and the country’s leading filly, Buena Vista.

Trained by Aidan O’Brien, Joshua Tree arrived in Japan on Thursday on a flight with Dandino. Like all of the foreign arrivals, they will spend a week at the JRA quarantine center at Shiroi east of Tokyo before being vanned to Tokyo Racecourse. Fifty Proof arrived at Shiroi on Thursday morning accompanied by Black’s assistant Tyler Gaskin, who said: “His body temperature is at its best and he is as he always is.” Gaskin supervised a Fifty Proof gallop at the Shiroi training track Friday. Black is no stranger to Japan as he saddled Rahy’s Attorney to finish ninth in the 2008 Mile Championship at Kyoto.

This year’s renewal of the $2.3 million Mile Championship on Sunday features a single foreign raider in Sahpresa. Trained in France by Rodolphe Collet, the 5-year-old mare is fresh from a successful Oct. 2 defense of her one-mile, Group 1 Sun Chariot Stakes title at Newmarket. Last year, Sahpresa finished 1 3/4 lengths third behind Company in the Mile Championship. On Sunday, she will make her first start wearing the colors of new owner Teruya Yoshida. Christophe Lemaire will break her from a wide draw of 16 in an 18-runner field that includes NHK Mile Cup winner Jo Cappuccino, seven-furlong Swan Stakes winner Maruka Phoenix, and leading sprinter Kinshasa no Kiseki.