11/24/2009 12:00AM

U.S. forces settle in for Japan Cup Dirt

Barbara D. Livingston
Interpatation is one of three American contenders for the Japan Cup.

Tizway touched down safely at Narita International Airport near Tokyo on Monday and will begin preparations for his meeting with Summer Bird in the $2.3 Japan Cup Dirt at Hanshin on Dec. 6.

Tizway showed no ill effects after his 15-hour journey from New York and will be housed at the Japan Racing Association's Horseracing School Quarantine Stables at Shiroi until Dec. 3, when he will be transferred to Hanshin Racecourse near Osaka. At Shiroi, he joins Summer Bird, who arrived in Japan last Thursday.

"It was his first long-distance travel, but his condition seems to be okay," said Tizway's groom, Everardo Cambray. A 4-year-old son of Tiznow, Tizway is trained by James Bond. "As of now, I've been told by Mr. Bond to only walk him on Tuesday and check his condition."

In his last start, Tizway finished 5 1/2 lengths third behind Summer Bird in the Jockey Club Gold Cup going 1 1/4 miles, a furlong longer than the 1 1/8-mile Japan Cup Dirt, which will be run right-handed around Hanshin. Should Summer Bird prevail in the Grade 1 contest, he would receive a $1 million bonus as the Belmont Stakes winner. The last American-trained horse to win the Japan Cup Dirt, and the only non-Japanese horse to win the race in its nine runnings, is the Doug O'Neill-trained Fleetstreetdancer, who took the 2003 edition when it was run at a distance of 1 5/16 miles at Tokyo.

The three American contenders for Sunday's $5.9 million Japan Cup have been ensconced since Sunday at Tokyo Racecourse, the site of the 1 1/2-mile, Grade 1 turf contest. This year's running will be the world's second richest horse race after the $6 million Dubai World Cup.

Interpatation, coming off an upset score in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic, has been galloping the last few days on Tokyo's dirt track. Trainer Robert Barbara, who was scheduled to arrive in Tokyo on Wednesday, will supervise Interpatation's key workout on either Thursday or Friday.

The Jonathan Sheppard-trained and -owned Just as Well also has been galloping on the Tokyo dirt track. The winner of the 1 1/2-mile, Grade 1 Northern Dancer Stakes at Woodbine on Sept. 20, Just as Well has taken well to the Tokyo dirt course, which lies inside the 1 1/4-mile turf course.

"The dirt on the track has just the right cushion and the uphill felt very good," said exercise rider Barry Wiseman. "We do a lot of training using hills back home, so the horse seemed happy."

Marsh Side is no stranger to the regimen required of foreign Japan Cup runners, as he was here last year, only to be scratched on the eve of the race due to a fever. Should the Neil Drysdale-trained Marsh Side win the Japan Cup, he would receive a $1 million bonus as the winner of last year's Canadian International, a race in which he finished fourth this year behind Champs Elysees.

But to pull off that trick, Marsh Side will have to peg back both the formidable Conduit, who is fresh from his second straight triumph in the Breeders' Cup Turf, and Japanese Horse of the Year Vodka.