11/21/2008 12:00AM

Marsh Side, Tin Cup Chalice arrive in Japan

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Marsh Side and Tin Cup Chalice have arrived in Japan to prepare for their dates in two of Japan’s most valuable races. Canadian International winner Marsh Side, who goes in the 1 1/2-mile Japan Cup on Nov. 30, checked into the Shiroi Quarantine Center east of Tokyo at 1:35 p.m. on Thursday (1:35 a.m. Eastern), while Tin Cup Chalice preceded him by about 45 minutes after a 24-hour journey from Finger Lakes in anticipation of his run in the 1 1/8-mile Japan Cup Dirt on Dec. 7.

Marsh Side will be running for the winner’s share of the $5.6 million purse in the Japan Cup, plus a $1 million bonus for winning both the Canadian International and the Japan Cup.

“It was a smooth flight and Marsh Side seems to have slept pretty while in transit,” said Derek Oldham, assistant to Marsh Side’s trainer, Neil Drysdale. “We could not get water replacement so he took two liters of water after arriving at Shiroi. The prize money is high and the race draws worldwide attention. We will give it our best.”

The three European challengers in the Japan Cup also arrived at Shiroi on Thursday. Those are the Michael Stoute-trained Papal Bull; Breeders’ Cup Marathon flop Sixties Icon, who had previously won three Group 3 races in England this year for Jeremy Noseda; and Purple Moon, the 2007 Melbourne Cup runner-up who was second for Luca Cumani last time in the Group 2 Prix du Conseil de Paris. Along with Marsh Side they must endure a seven-day stay at Shiroi before transferring to Tokyo Racecourse on Thursday, three days before the big race.

Marsh Side and the three English horses will have their hands full in Japan’s richest race as the home side will include three past Japanese Derby winners in Deep Sky (2008), the filly Vodka (2007), and Meisho Samson (2006), as well as a second outstanding filly, Daiwa Scarlet.

Tin Cup Chalice touched down at Narita International Airport four hours prior to his arrival at Shiroi.

“It was a long-distance flight but he is not showing any fatigue and is doing great,” said his groom Jan Keuer. “He has a good appetite and I’m just relieved. It’s his first day here so we’ll only walk him around. He’ll enter the track tomorrow and begin light training. If all goes well here at Shiroi, we’ll give him one hard workout before we move to Hanshin Racecourse.”

Keuer was referring the nine-hour van ride that awaits Tin Cup Chalice on Thursday. Hanshin, located just outside Osaka in western Japan, is 300 miles west of Shiroi.

This year’s Japan Cup Dirt will be worth $2.9 million, making it the world’s third richest non-turf race after the Dubai World Cup and the Breeders’ Cup Classic. The Mike Lecesse-trained Tin Cup Chalice, based at Finger Lakes, swept the Big Apple Triple for New York-bred 3-year-olds, then landed the Grade 2 Indiana Derby at Hoosier Park on Oct. 4 to make his record 8 for 9.

Tin Cup Chalice will be joined by at least one other American horse in the Japan Cup Dirt. The Rick Dutrow-trained Frost Giant is scheduled leave New York on Tuesday, but Mast Track, who has accepted an invitation to run from the Japan Racing Association, is now only 50-50 to make the trip from Santa Anita.