11/29/2010 2:17PM

Soumillon barred four days for Japan Cup DQ


Jockey Christophe Soumillon had insult added to injury on Monday when he was suspended for four days by the Japan Racing Association for having caused the incident that led to the disqualification of his mount, Buena Vista, in the Japan Cup on Sunday. The French-based Belgian jockey had ridden the popular filly to an apparent 1 3/4-length triumph in the $5.7 million race, but in drifting in at the eighth pole, he was ruled by the stewards to have interfered with eventual runner-up Rose Kingdom, who was awarded the race after an agonizing 24-minute inquiry.

As a result of the stewards’ action, Soumillon will miss the lucrative Hong Kong International Race Day at Sha Tin on Dec. 12. On that day he was to have had his first ride as the new contract rider for Ecurie Wildenstein aboard their French Derby and Grand Prix de Paris runner-up, Planteur ,in the $2.5 million Hong Kong Cup. Instead, Anthony Crastus, who had been the Wildenstein’s number-one rider for the past two years, will inherit the assignment.

Soumillon was disbelieving when he saw Buena Vista’s number taken down at Tokyo on Sunday, as were most people in the crowd of 106,000 who had gathered at Tokyo Racecourse for Japan’s biggest international race. Sent off as the 9-10 favorite in the field of 18 for the 1 1/2-mile turf Grade 1, Buena Vista swept to the lead just inside the furlong marker and was clearly the best horse in the race. It is doubtful whether the 7.80-1 Rose Kingdom, who eventually got up for second by a nose from Victoire Pisa, would have won the race even without the slight interference caused him by Buena Vista, but his name, along with those of rider Yutaka Take and trainer Kojiro Hashiguchi, will go down in the record books as the winner of the 30th renewal.

Whether the winner of the Japan Cup was Rose Kingdom or Buena Vista, it mattered little to Katsumi Yoshida, as both horses are owned by his Sunday Racing Co. Ltd. and were bred by him at Northern Farm.

So impressed was Soumillon with the performance of Buena Vista immediately after the race, he declared her to be superior to Zarkava, the filly he had ridden to win the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in 2008. Soumillon had ridden Buena Vista only for the first time on Oct. 31 when Buena Vista, a Hiroyoshi Matsuda-trained daughter of 1999 Japan Cup winner Special Week, had won the 1 1/4-mile, Grade 1 Autumn Tenno Sho.

There is optimism that Buena Vista and Rose Kingdom will meet one more time this season, as Yoshida expressed a post-Japan Cup desire to see them both run in the 1 9/16-mile Arima Kinen at Nakayama on Dec. 26.