Updated on 09/15/2011 1:31PM

Jungle Pocket nips 'T.M. Opera' in Japan Cup


Olivier Peslier brought Japanese Derby winner Jungle Pocket down the stretch with a devastating late run to beat T.M. Opera O by a neck, denying him a repeat win in the Japan Cup at Tokyo Racecourse on Sunday.

Winless in two starts since taking the derby over the Japan Cup course and distance on May 27, Jungle Pocket rewarded his backers in the huge throng of 115,196 to the tune of 3.20-1. A Japanese-bred son of 1988 Arc winner Tony Bin, he covered the 1 1/2 miles on firm turf in 2:23.80.

The Japan Cup completed a weekend washout for American horses. White Heart (8th), With Anticipation (9th), Cagney (12th), and Timboroa (last of 15 and distanced), did no better than the Yanks did on Saturday in the Japan Cup Dirt. In that race, Lido Palace, Generous Rosi, and Dig for It all finished unplaced behind the Japanese-trained Kurofune, whose seven-length victory established him as one of the premier dirt-track horses in the world.

White Heart never got involved in the Japan Cup, while With Anticipation, who led briefly entering the stretch after having been bumped, weakened late.

"It was a good, honest effort," said trainer Jonathan Sheppard of With Anticipation, his Man o' War and Sword Dancer winner. "I'm proud of him."

Timboroa led to the half-mile pole with Jerry Bailey aboard before giving up the ghost, while Cagney returned lame after a dull effort.

"Mike Smith told me that Cagney started drifting out and he has never done that before," said trainer Dick Mandella. "We'll know more later."

"I'm on top of the world," said Peslier, who is riding regularly in Japan this winter. "It is the most marvelous thrill for me to win the Japan Cup because I have ridden here many times. I was bumped a little at the start and we then raced quite a long way back, but he settled well and I got a good run through."

T.M. Opera O, the 4-5 favorite, couldn't hold the winner back after having led approaching the quarter pole, but second place still increased his world-leading bankroll to $16,071,188.

Narita Top Road was third, 3 1/2 lengths behind T.M. Opera O. Stay Gold, conqueror of Fantastic Light in the Dubai Sheema Classic, was a one-paced fourth, Meisho Doto was fifth, and British invader Golan was sixth.

The 13th-place finish of Paolini spoiled the remote chance the German horse had of overtaking Fantastic Light for the Emirates World Series Racing Championship. With only the Hong Kong Cup remaining on the Series schedule, Fantastic Light has an insurmountable lead for the title and its $1 million bonus. A Rahy 5-year-old, Fantastic Light has thus successfully defended his Emirates World Series crown, while Godolphin, which won the inaugural series with Daylami in 1999, has now taken all three World Series. It is scheduled for a revision next year becasue Emirates Airlines has decided to cancel its sponsorship.

* In the $2 million Japan Cup Dirt, Kurofune, a half-brother to top American juvenile filly Bella Bellucci, set a course record of 2:05.90 for the 1 5/16 miles. Japansese horses were 1-2-3 as Wing Arrow was second behind Kurofune, the 7-10 favorite, with Miracle Opera another half-length back in third.