In what trainer Hiroyoshi Matsuda called her “best race ever” favored Buena Vista scored a two-length win in the Tenno Sho (Autumn). The 142nd running of the $3.1 million event was staged Oct. 31 at Tokyo Racecourse.
Before a crowd of 83,900 that braved an earlier typhoon threat, the 4-year-old filly Buena Vista improved her career mark to 8-4-3 in 15 starts, including victories last season in the Takarazuka Kinen (Jpn-I) and Victoria Mile (Jpn-I). Jockey Christophe Soumillon, agreed, though, that she was never so impressive.
The Belgian Soumillon, blowing kisses and throwing his whip and gloves to the crowd after his first Tenno Sho victory, noted afterward: “She really impressed me today. Normally, she has always won by a small margin, but today she won like a real champion.”
This was Buena Vista's fifth grade I victory and her first against males. She ran second earlier this year in the Dubai Sheema Classic (UAE-I).
Matsuda, earning his first Tenno Sho win in 10 attempts, noted, “I knew we got it right after the last turn. She was in her best form so I wasn’t really worried. Of course it depends on how she comes out of this race, but she’ll probably go on to challenge the Japan Cup (Jpn-I) and eventually the Arima Kinen (Jpn-I) after that.”
Buena Vista is owned by Sunday Racing. The daughter of Special Week, who captured both the spring and fall versions of the Tenno Sho in 1999, out of the Caerleon mare Biwa Heide, she was bred by Northern Racing.
“She is a superstar," Soumillon concluded. "It was as if she had wings on her back. I’m looking forward to the chance of riding her in the Japan Cup and the Arima Kinen.”
Racing at Tokyo had been canceled a day earlier because of an approaching typhoon but the threat bypassed the area overnight and left the turf course in "good" condition for the Tenno Sho under cloudy skies.
Buena Vista, who had demonstrated prowess over similar going before, clocked a time of 1:58.2 over the 2,000 meters (about 1 1/4 miles), one second off the race record established by Vodka in 2008.
Silport and Oken Sakura, clicking along at a better-than-average pace, took the lead from the gate. They pulled the field along with Buena Vista, relaxed and calm under the guidance of Soumillon from an uncharacteristic midfield spot, chasing while close to the rail.
Into the stretch, Soumillon had the dark bay filly just off the lead. With a shake of the reins, she stepped to the front of the 18-strong field approaching the 200-meter mark.
“I had to make a jump a bit quicker because it was 2,000 meters so I put her into the race a bit early,” said Soumillon, who was riding Buena Vista for the first time. “I had to fight a little to get behind a good horse but I was very confident because we were able to be around good horses and that way I knew I would find my gap.”
Once in front, Buena Vista went unchallenged to the finish line.
Fourth choice Pelusa came roaring up on the outside to finish second. Second choice Earnestly ran third, 1 1/2 lengths farther back, with longshots Oken Sakura, a 3-year-old filly, and Never Bouchon in fourth and fifth.