The United States will have a strong contingent of seven horses at this year's Japan Cup (Jpn-I) and Japan Cup Dirt (Jpn-I) invitational races at Tokyo racecourse next Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 24-25, including horses trained by Hall of Fame conditioners Jonathan Sheppard, Neil Drysdale, Richard Mandella, and Robert Frankel.
Frankel has sent two horses, Edmund Gann's Turf Classic Invitational (gr. IT) winner Timboroa for the Japan Cup and Whitney Handicap (gr. I) and Woodward Stakes (gr. I) winner Lido Palace for the Japan Cup Dirt for John and Jerome Amerman. Timboroa ran third behind Fantastic Light after setting the pace in the Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. I) most recently and was 11th in the Japan Cup last year when he was taken far off the pace. The Chilean-bred Lido Palace did not race in the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships when his owners opted not to put up a supplementary nomination that would have cost them $800,000, or 20% of the $4-million purse.
The mile and one-half Japan Cup offers nearly $4 million in prize money, while the 1 5/16-mile Dirt carries $2 million in purses, with the Japan Racing Association picking up all of the travel costs for participants.
Frankel saddled Euchre for an eighth-place finish in last year's inaugural Japan Cup Dirt. He won the Japan Cup with Pay the Butler in 1988.
Sheppard will be represented in the Japan Cup by the 8-year-old With Anticipation, owned by Augustin Stable. The son of Relaunch finished a distant seventh in the Breeders' Cup Turf but won 4-of-8 starts this year, including the Man o' War (gr. IT) and Sword Dancer Invitational (gr. IT). In addition, With Anticipation was disqualified for interference after finishing first in the United Nations Handicap (gr. IT). This has been by far his most productive racing season.
Mandella, who has had made several unsuccessful attempts to win the Japan Cup, is sending the Brazilian-bred Cagney, a 4-year-old coming off a come-from-behind victory in the Carleton F. Burke Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Santa Anita in October. It was his second stakes win in the U.S. for Stud TNT after winning two stakes in his native country at ages 2 and 3.
White Heart is the fourth U.S. representative in the Japan Cup. The Gainsborough Farm runner trained by Drysdale finished a head behind Senure in the Clement L. Hirsch Turf Championship Stakes (gr. IT) at Santa Anita but won two grade I races in 2000 and 2001: the Charles Whittingham Handicap at Hollywood Park last year and the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic Stakes (gr. IT) at Churchill Downs in May.
Trainer Bruce Headley is sending Dig for It to the Japan Cup Dirt despite the 6-year-old son of Digamist owning no stakes victories from 38 lifetime starts. Most recently he was fourth in the one-mile Skywalker Handicap at Santa Anita. His most recent win was in an allowance race at Hollywood Park in May.
Generous Rosi, who finished a distant second to Aptitude in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I) at Belmont Park in October, will contest the Dirt for trainer Niall O'Callaghan and owner Addison Stable. The strapping son of Generous has won one stakes race in the U.S., the Turfway Park Fall Championship Stakes (gr. III) in September, after winning two stakes in England in 1999.
Trainer Michael Stoute, who won back-to-back Japan Cups with Singspiel and Pilsudski in 1996 and 1997, has a strong contender this year with Lord Weinstock's Golan, winner of the Two Thousand Guineas (Eng-I) and second to Galileo in the Epsom Derby (Eng-I) and Irish Derby (Ire-I). The 3-year-old son of Spectrum won France's Prix Niel (Fr-II) before running fourth on very soft ground to Sakhee in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (Fr-I). Also pointing for the race is Italian group I winner Paolini.
Kurofune, a U.S.-bred son of French Deputy and a full brother to the 2-year-old filly Bella Bellucci, is a top Japanese runner pre-entered in both Japanese races. The gray colt has shown versatility, winning on both surfaces this year, although his best win was at a mile on turf.
Defending his title in the Japan Cup will be T.M. Opera O, a Japanese-bred son of Arc winner Opera House who has won 14 of 24 lifetime starts.