11/27/2016 3:15PM

Kitasan Black all the way in Japan Cup

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Kitasan Black, the 5-2 favorite, led throughout Sunday’s $5 million Japan Cup at Tokyo Racecourse to record a popular win in the country’s richest race.

Ridden by Yutaka Take, Kitasan Black won the race at 1 1/2 miles by 2 1/4 lengths over 11-1 Sounds of Earth. Cheval Grand, a 12-1 shot, finished third, a neck behind Sounds of Earth.

The field of 17 had three European challengers – Iquitos, who finished seventh, Nightflower, who was 12th, and Erupt, who was 14th. Erupt won the Grade 1 Canadian International at Woodbine on Oct. 16 and was pre-entered for the Breeders’ Cup Turf at Santa Anita earlier this month. Erupt did not race in the BC Turf after a decision was made to allow additional time between starts.

Kitasan Black gave Take a record fourth win in the Japan Cup in the 36th running of the race and was his first winner in the race since Rose Kingdom in 2010.

Owned by the Japanese singer Saburo Kitajima and trained by Hisashi Shimizu, Kitasan Black could have an international campaign in 2017. Shimizu mentioned races such as the Dubai Sheema Classic in the United Arab Emirates in March and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Chantilly, France, next October, as possibilities.

The Japan Cup was Kitasan Black’s second major stakes win of the year.

“I let Take make his decision as far as racing tactics,” Shimizu said. “Watching the colt racing comfortably in front, I knew that he had plenty left in the tank coming into the stretch.

“I was saying to myself, ‘He’s okay. He’s okay,’ but in fact, I don’t remember the words I was yelling as the finish line drew near.”

A 4-year-old colt by the Sunday Silence stallion Black Tide, Kitasan Black won the spring running of the Grade 1 Tenno Sho and won the Grade 2 Kyoto Daishoten at Kyoto on Oct. 10, his only start this fall.

Kitajima and Shimizu said Kitasan Black could start in the Grade 1 Arima Kinen at Nakayama Racecourse on Dec. 25. Kitasan Black has won 8 of 13 starts.