01/14/2011 2:32PM

Rose Kingdom returns in Nikkei Shinshun Hai at Kyoto


Rose Kingdom, placed first in the Japan Cup at the expense of Japanese Horse of the Year Buena Vista but denied a rematch with the filly when scratched form the Arima Kinen, drops down to Grade 2 company at Kyoto on Sunday for the 1 1/2-mile, $1.35 million Nikkei Shinshun Hai.

Trained by Kojiro Hashiguchi for Sunday Racing Co. Ltd., Rose Kingdom was the Japanese champion 2-year-old in 2009 by virtue of his win in the Grade 1 Futurity Stakes. His early season sophomore campaign was something of a disappointment, however, as he finished fourth in the Japanese 2000 Guineas to eventual Arima Kinen winner Victoire Pisa and then was a neck second in the Japanese Derby to Eishin Flash, with Victoire Pisa third. The King Kamehameha colt turned the tables on Eishin Flash when winning the 1 1/2-mile, Grade 2 Kobe Shimbun Hai on Sept. 26 but was second to Big Week as the favorite in the Japanese St. Leger.

Rose Kingdom was set to take on Buena Vista and Victoire Pisa in Nakayama’s Arima Kinen on Dec. 26, but a bout of colic forced his withdrawal two days prior to the race. Yutaka Take will ride him in the Shinshun Hai, in which the threats are Japanese Derby fifth Rulership and Japanese St. Leger third Beat Black.

◗ At Sha Tin on Sunday, Sacred Kingdom tries to get back on the winning track when taking on seven foes in the Hong Kong Group 1 Centenary Sprint Cup, a straight five-furlong dash worth $578,000.

A two-time winner of the Hong Kong Sprint, Sacred Kingdom, a 7-year-old gelding, has won the last two runnings of this race but lost his last two starts when fifth to J J The Jet Plane in the Hong Kong Sprint on Dec. 12 and fifth to Hong Kong Sprint runner-up Rocket Man in the Jockey Club Sprint on Nov. 21. With neither of those two running Sunday, the Ricky Yiu trainee should repel last year’s runner-up Ultra Fantasy as well as KrisFlyer International Sprint winner Green Birdie.