(from Japanese Racing Association report)
Admire Jupiter, one of four horses entered by owner Riichi Kondo, held off defending champion Meisho Samson by a head to win the US$2.4 million Tenno Sho (Spring) before 81,760 at Kyoto Racecourse May 4.
It was the first grade I appearance for Admire Jupiter, trained by Yasuo Tomomichi. Admire Jupiter overcame a poor start from his far outside post in the field of 14 for the about two-mile test (3,200 meters) on grass.
Melbourne Cup-winning jockey Yasunari Iwata guided Admire Jupiter to victory over the second choice, Meisho Samson. It was 2 1/2 lengths back to the favorite, Asakusa King in third.
The winning 5-year-old French Deputy horse clocked a time of 3:15.1 on firm going, nearly two seconds off the course record established by Deep Impact.
Along with Admire Jupiter, Kondo had entered Admire Fuji (fifth), Admire Monarch (sixth) and Admire Main (14th), matching the highest number of entries in a single race in the 72-year history of the Tenno Sho, the spring and autumn versions combined.
“I really wanted to win this race, no matter what,” said Kondo, who openly wept following the race. “I’ve won the [Japanese] Derby and some other big races, but this is the one I’ve always wanted most.”
Kondo said Admire Jupiter will be rested until the autumn season, when he could head to Australia for the Melbourne Cup (Aus-I). The Tenno Sho (Spring) winner will receive an invitation to the Melbourne Cup.
“He’s run seven races without rest. I’m tempted to keep using him, but he needs a break. Otherwise, he could get hurt,” Kondo said. “He has an invitation from Australia, and we have a lot to look forward to in the autumn.”
Admire Jupiter was sidelined for 16 months after breaking his leg as a 3-year-old.
Last out of the stalls in the Tenno Sho, Iwata said his mount was as calm as he could be.
“I think he was more relaxed than I was,” Iwata said. “I just had to regroup. We had 3,200 meters to make up lost ground, and the way this horse quickens, I was counting on him to get the job done in the end.
“I was right behind [Meisho] Samson pretty much for the entire trip. He moved to the front a little faster than I expected but he hung in there. The 3,200 meters felt really long. When Meisho Samson sidled up, I was far from thrilled.”
Four-year-old Hokuto Sultan set the pace until Asakusa Kings overtook him at the mouth of the straight. Admire Jupiter and Meisho Samson soon turned it into a two-horse battle.
Tomomichi, who won his first Tenno Sho (Spring), was overcome with joy.
“I wasn’t emotional at first but when I saw the owner crying, it brought me to tears,” he said. “I’d finally won a grade I race. His workouts leading up to this race went according to plan. He couldn’t have been more prepared; it was almost scary."
Admire Jupiter was coming off a 2 1/2-length win in the Hanshin Daishoten (Jpn-II) March 23 at 1 7/8 miles. He has won seven of 13 lifetime starts