JAPAN CUP (G1)
Tokyo, Turf, 2400m
25 November 2012
Sunday Racing’s 2011 Japanese Triple Crown winner Orfevre (Jpn) (Stay Gold) suffered a heart-breaking loss in the G1 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at the hands of a determined filly early last month. Yesterday, he again fell prey to another gutsy lass in the form of Japan’s 2012 Filly Triple Crown heroine Gentildonna (Jpn) (Deep Impact) - also owned by Sunday Racing - in one of their home country’s premier events, the G1 Japan Cup at Tokyo.
A year after winning Japan’s Triple Crown with Orfevre, Sunday Racing was poised to sweep the filly version of the series after Gentildonna won the 1600-meter G1 Oka Sho (Japan 1000 Guineas) at Hanshin in April and the 2400-meter G1 Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks) at Tokyo in May. The Northern Racing-bred filly was rested over the summer, and after prepping with a victory in the 1800-meter G2 Kansai Tele Corp Sho Rose Stakes at Hanshin September 16, completed the Triple Crown with a nose tally over longtime rival Verxina (Jpn) (Deep Impact) in the 2000-meter G1 Shuka Sho at Kyoto October 14.
Making her first start since and sent off the 5-1 third choice, Gentildonna was away alertly from post 15 and raced up to a prominent early position. She secured an ideal tracking position in third as Beat Black (Jpn) (Miscast) took up the running in earnest. Arc heroine Solemia, at 21-1, raced along in fourth, with the even-money Orfevre back another four or five lengths while in the clear on the outside. Beat Black began to extend his advantage on the backstretch, and led by as much as 10 lengths heading into the far turn. He still had a four-length cushion with 400 meters remaining, but the field, fanned out six abreast, was closing in fast. Gentiledonna and Orfevre, swarming past on either side of a tiring rival, soon reeled in Beat Black, with the former pushing out Orfevre a bit to avoid running up on heels of the sputtering pacesetter. From there, she gamely asserted to get her nose down as they flashed under the wire.
The win, the first by a sophomore filly in the Cup, came after a lengthy stewards inquiry, as Gentildonna had muscled her way out in the stretch and bumped with Orfevre before finishing a nose in front on the line. Sunday Racing also campaigns the third-placed finisher Rulership (Jpn) (King Kamehameha), while the operation’s fourth Cup horse, Fenomeno (Jpn) (Stay Gold), ran fifth.
Stewards let the result stand, but announced that winning jockey Yasunari Iwata, collecting his third Cup victory, would serve a two-day suspension for his ride on Gentildonna. Iwata, hardly in a down mood afterward, accepted some blame and talked about how the race unfolded. “I had studied the track condition and thought that the inside would be a good choice,” he explained. “Although the draw was way out, I was able to position nicely, and we had a perfect trip up to the stretch, I am afraid the blame is on me for causing some trouble to Orfevre. But the filly is nonetheless a great filly for out-dueling a monster like Orfevre. I was conscious of facing a very tough field compared to her past races, but decided to just concentrate on bringing out her best performance, which she did. I would certainly love to accompany her in her overseas endeavor for the coming 4-year-old season, and I am confident that she has the potential to win against the best. But she is a very delicate filly, and her chance to mature both physically and mentally comes first. I am just looking forward to feel her progress and grow up in her future races.”
“Although the Japan Cup was a big challenge for a 3-year-old filly, I was confident that she was up to the competition and she proved that today,” said winning trainer Sei Ishizaka. “She had maintained her form and I knew, being a fighter in a duel, that she would pull through and claim her victory.” He went on to confirm that there is a lot of racing left in Gentildonna. “I am thinking long term - not just next year, but even the year after that,” he said. “She still has room for improvement, and I am confident that she will have a bright future ahead. After her battle against tough competition in the Japan Cup, she will be turned out until her 4-year-old season, during which, depending on her condition, I will go on with my plan for overseas challenges, which had been my consideration ever since Gentildonna won the third leg of the Fillies Triple Crown, perhaps in Dubai, France or the U.S.”
Extract from Thoroughbred Daily News