Former Japanese classic winner Eishin Flash halted a lengthy winless skid Oct. 28 when he defeated favorite Fenomeno in a thrilling finish to the $3,437,000 Tenno Sho (Autumn) (Jpn-I) at Tokyo Racecourse.
Jockey Mirco Demuro engineered the 16-1 upset when he guided Eishin Flash past 3-1 favorite Fenomeno to secure a half-length victory. It marked the first win in more than two years for the 5-year-old King's Best horse since his triumph in the Tokyo Yushun (Jpn-I), or Japanese Derby, on May 30, 2010.
Fenomeno, a nose second to Deep Brillante in this year’s Derby, was seeking a breakthrough at the top level. Finding Eishin Flash too tough, he comfortably held back a late run of highly regarded 5-year-old Rulership, who finished third, 1 1/4 lengths back. Rulership was returning from a four-month layoff after finishing second to Orfevre in the Takarazuka Kinen (Jpn-I).
Eishin Flash, who rated in mid-pack early in the 18-horse field, was timed in a sharp 1:57.03 for the 1 1/4-mile (2,000-meter) turf race to improve his record to five wins, three thirds, and four seconds from 20 career starts for owner Toyomitsu Hirai and trainer Hideaki Fujiwara.
With the Tenno Sho victory, Eishin Flash stamped his ticket to the $6,5 million Japan Cup (Jpn-I), the nation’s richest race, on Nov. 25 at Tokyo. He entered the Tenno Sho off a ninth-place finish in the Mainichi Okan (Jpn-II) Oct. 7 at Hanshin following sixth-place finishes in the Takarazuka Kinen and the Emirates Airline Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) Mar. 31.
Though close in seconds to Orfevre in the 2011 Arima Kinen Grand Prix (Jpn-I) and Hiruno d'Amour in the Tenno Sho (Spring), Eishin Flash’s best efforts were thought to be in the past. But he gave a dazzling display in the Tenno Sho (Autumn) in front of some very important visitors.
Japan’s Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko were making a rare appearance at the race, which is known as the Emperor’s Cup, as 2012 commemorates the 150th year of modern style horseracing in Japan. The last time they visited during the Tenno Sho (Autumn) was in 2005, which marked the first imperial visit in 106 years.
Upon his dismount from Eishin Flash, Demuro knelt before Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko.
“It’s a very special day because the emperor is here,” Demuro told Reuters after the race. “I was thinking of doing something special.
“It was my first time to ride Eishin Flash, my first time Tenno Sho. Everything was new today. (The horse) was so relaxed today.”
Eishin Flash was bred in Japan by Shadai Farm out of 2000 Grosser Preis des Casino-116 Deutsches St. Leger (Ger-II) winner Moonlady, by Platini. He is one of 27 graded or group stakes winners for Darley’s European-based King's Best, including English classic winner and 2010 Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (Fr-I) victor Workforce, and 2012 Irish classic winner Royal Diamond.