Japan Cup: Diplomacy on the track

WHAT can a race symbolize? For one thing, the good relations between two countries when it comes to the sport of horseracing.

One such race is the Japan Cup. This year’s version was held Jan. 28 at the Manila Jockey Club’s San Lazaro Leisure Park in Carmona, Cavite. It had two classes, the imported and the local, both over 1,400 meters.

The race for imports was won by Mystic Award with a total time of 1:26.2, followed by Naughty Girl, War Dancer, and Ava Natalia in that order.

Manda won the race for locals with a time of 1:27.4. Placers were Mam Candy, Summer Romance, and Morning Breeze.

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The Japan Cup isn’t the only such race held in cooperation between nationals of the two countries. The Japan Racing Association Cup is another annual race marked by the visit of the regional JRA representatives, always a welcome event.

Through the years, the JRA has been supportive of the Philippine Thoroughbred industry’s efforts to get itself on an international footing with regards to standards and affiliations. It has a program whereby it regularly sponsors a certain number of persons from the industry to visit its facilities and those of other horse people in order to learn best practices that they can take back and apply here if relevant.

Among the places that some Filipinos have visited, while on a JRA seminar-trip is the famous Shadai Stallion Station in Hokkaido, the home of legendary stallions Sunday Silence and Deep Impact.

Shadai was established in the late ‘70s or early ‘80s by the late Zenya Yoshida. His father, Zensuke, fielded an entry in the first Japanese Derby in 1932. Now, Zenya’s three sons control a significant part of the Japanese breeding scene. Each of them have a farm on Hokkaido—Teruya has Shadai, Katsumi, Northern, and Haruya, Oiwake. Jointly they own Shadai Corp. and Shadai Stallion Station which houses Japan’s top ten stallions.

Just how vast is their racing empire? Together, the brothers breed one-sixth of the 7,500 or so foals born in Japan each year, keeping most of them to run under their own names or that of syndicates. Their father, Zenya, bought American champion Sunday Silence for cheap and the horse went on to become the country’s leading sire from 1995 to 2007. His progeny dramatically altered the phenotype of horses in Japan.

Sunday Silence’s son, Deep Impact (out of the Irish mare Wind in Her Hair) is an unbeaten Japanese Triple Crown champion and now one of the country’s most prolific stallions, the leading sire in Japan from 2012 to 2017. He didn’t have a flawless record, though —his only loss was to Heart’s Cry in the 2005 Arima Kinen (Grand Prix). Heart’s Cry is also standing stud at Shadai.

The Shadai Group has developed its racing and breeding program to such a degree that its horses are serious contenders in international competitions. A visit to any of their facilities is always worth the while as a learning experience.

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Dr. Ortuoste is a California-based writer. Facebook: Gogirl Racing and @DrJennyO, Twitter: @gogirlracing and @jennyortuoste

Topics: Japan Cup , Diplomacy on the track
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