12/03/2010 1:32PM

Transcend has shot to take Japan Cup Dirt

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Transcend can take advantage of the absence of many of Japan’s best dirt horses to win the $3 million Japan Cup Dirt at Hanshin on Sunday when the 1 1/8-mile, Grade 1 test will have its 11th running minus defending title-holder Epsoir City as well as Furioso, Smart Falcon, and the recently retired Kane Hekili.

A 4-year-old son of 1998 Metropolitan Handicap and Carter Handicap winner, Wild Rush, Transcend comes into the race off a victory in Kyoto’s 1 1/8-mile, Grade 3 Miyako Stakes. Trained by Takayuki Yasuda, he will be ridden by Shinji Fujita.

Espoir City will miss the race after not having recovered sufficiently from his exertions when he ran 10th in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, while Smart Falcon and Furioso, the first two home in the JBC Classic a month ago, will wait for the Tokyo Daishoten at Ohi on Dec. 29. The sentimental favorite will be the Sei Ishizaka-trained Vermilion, who will be making his fourth start in the race. He won it in 2007 when it was run at 1 5/16 miles at Tokyo and was third at Hanshin in the 2008 renewal. An 8-year-old son of El Condor Pasa, he beat Furioso into second when winning the 1 5/16-mile Kawasaki Kinen in January but was beaten into ninth by the same horse in the Teio Sho on June 30. He returns off the five-month layoff with rider Yutaka Take seeking to pull off the Japan Cup/Japan Cup Dirt double.

Glorious Noah is coming off a one-mile, Grade 3 score at Tokyo while King’s Emblem was 1 1/4 lengths second to Transcend in the Miyako.

The danger to them all may be the 3-year-old Aliseo, who will be making his dirt debut after eight starts in top-class company on turf. He has won twice going 1 1/8 miles at the Grade 2 level and will be ridden by Christophe Lemaire.