04/30/2010 12:00AM

Meiner Kitz defending at Kyoto

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Meiner Kitz will defend his title in the $2.7 million Spring Tenno Sho at Kyoto on Sunday. At two miles, the Emperor s Cup is Japan s most prestigious stayer s race and was won in 2006 by the great Deep Impact, who set a national record of 3:13.40 for the distance.

Meiner Kitz, a 7-year-old son of the 1997 Breeders Cup Turf winner, Chief Bearhart, isn t quite in Deep Impact s league, but he prepped for his defense with a victory in the 1 9/16-mile, Grade 2 Nikkei Sho, a race in which he had been second last year. Trained by Sakae Kuneida, he will be ridden by Masami Matsuoka.

Forgettable will not make it easy for him. A stouthearted son of Dance in the Dark, he is coming off a Feb.14 victory in the 2 1/8-mile, Grade 3 Diamond Stakes and won last December s 2 1/4-mile, Grade 2 Stayers Stakes. The Nikkei Sho runner-up, Air Shady, will have his supporters, as will Tokai Trick, winner of the two-mile, Grade 2 Hanshin Daishoten winner. Jaguar Mail, fifth in th Spring Tenno Sho last year, looms large off his second-place finish in the 1 3/8-mile, Grade 2 Kyoto Kinen to subsequent Dubai Sheema Classic runner-up Buena Vista.

* Louis Romanet, chairman of the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities, was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon by the Japanese government on Thursday for his contribution to Japanese agriculture through breeding and international racing. Romanet is the first non-Japanese in the thoroughbred world to be receive such an honor.