Eishin Flash swept under the wire to capture Sunday's Grade 1 Tenno Sho (Autumn) at Tokyo, a much awaited victory after going winless for two years and five months since his Grade 1 Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby) triumph in 2010.
Moreover, since his runner-up effort in last December's Grade 1 Arima Kinen, Eishin Flash had been unplaced in three starts. The son of King's Best was sixth in the Group 1 Dubai World Cup, his first race this season, and sixth again in the Grade 1 Takarazuka Kinen. He was coming off a disappointing ninth in his previous race and first start of his autumn campaign, the Grade 2 Mainichi Okan, and was sent off fifth choice at double digit odds in this race. I
Beneath drizzly skies, the race got underway with Silport immediately in the front as expected, while undefeated three-year-old Curren Black Hill, breaking well from an outer gate, hesitantly pursued the leader with Daiwa Falcon a few lengths behind. As the front runner further expanded his lead down the backstretch, Fenomeno headed the trailing group in fourth. Eishin Flash settled in midfield close to the rails for Italian jockey Mirco Demuro, with Dark Shadow a length in front of him, and second favored Rulership cruising wide near the rear of the field.
Putting at least 15 lengths between the closest pursuer and himself as he made the last two turns, Silport desperately held on to his lead with Curren Black Hill and Daiwa Falcon in a duel for second with 400 meters to go. As Silport steadily weakened from his early efforts, Eishin Flash steamed into the picture driven along the rail with Fenomeno, also charging down the straight, both caught the dueling pair from either sides before picking off the leader 150 meters out.
Under Demuro's right-hand encouragement, Eishin Flash continued his stupendous kick to hold off three-year-old Fenomeno by a half-length. The final time for about 1 1/4 miles on firm turf was 1:57 1/5.
Rulership showed a powerful late charge to grab third, another 1 1/4 lengths away. Dark Shadow showed good acceleration down the lane after turning for home in midpack and got up for fourth. Curren Black Hill found another gear in the last 100 meters and held on gamely for fifth. Silport retreated to 12th in the 18-horse field.
This marked the third consecutive year that a foreign jockey has claimed the Tenno Sho (Autumn) title. Demuro, most known for his triumphs with Victoire Pisa in the 2010 Arima Kinen and the 2011 Dubai World Cup, celebrated his seventh JRA Grade 1 victory. This is the fourth career Grade 1 title for trainer Hideaki Fujiwara since Eishin Flash's 2010 Tokyo Yushun.
The Emperor and Empress of Japan were in attendance for the first time since 2005 -- fittingly so, since the Tenno Sho is the "Emperor's Cup."