Young Star Vs. Past Winners in Japan Cup Dirt

Young Star Vs. Past Winners in Japan Cup Dirt
Photo: Japan Racing Association
Transcend won the Japan Cup Dirt in 2010 and 2011.

Rising star Roman Legend puts a six-race win streak on the line in the Japan Cup Dirt (Jpn-I) Dec. 2 at Hanshin Racecourse while facing two previous winners of the race in his group I debut.

The 4-year-old Special Week colt is generating much of the pre-race buzz for the Japan Cup Dirt, which features the winners of the past three editions of the race, Espoir City and Transcend, among the 16-horse field. The 1,800-meter (1 1/8-mile) race offers a purse of 252,800,000 yen ($3,063,634).

Espoir City won the race in 2009 and Transcend captured the event the past two years. Both multiple group I winners will take on younger opponent Roman Legend, who enters off back-to-back group III wins in the Miyako Stakes (Jpn-III) Nov. 3 and the Elm Stakes (Jpn-III) over Espoir City Aug. 25.

Hideaki Fujiwara trains Roman Legend for Yosimi Ota. The colt's connections believe he is ready to step up to the top level after an impressive performance in the Miyako Stakes at the Japan Cup Dirt distance. Trapped behind a wall of horses for most of the race, he uncoiled an electric burst of speed once guided clear by regular rider Yasunari Iwata and seized the lead in the closing stages to prevail by a neck from Nihonpiro Ours.

"He's always been a clever horse capable of running at any pace at any position, but he took the race to them last time, fighting his way through to the finish. He showed a lot of heart, and it was a very convincing win," said assistant trainer Nobuyuki Tashiro.

Mirco Demuro has the mount on Roman Legend this time, replacing Iwata, who is to serve a two-day suspension Dec. 1-2 handed down for his careless riding aboard winner Gentildonna in the Japan Cup (Jpn-I) last weekend.

Yushun Horse Club’s Espoir City, a 7-year-old Gold Allure horse, enters off an authoritative four-length win in the Mile Championship Nambu Hai Oct. 8. The Japan Racing Association Award winner as best dirt horse in 2009 and 2010 has performed consistently this season, posting two wins and three seconds from of six starts.

Winless in three starts this season, Koji Maeda’s Transcend returns to defend his back-to-back victories in the Japan Dirt. The 6-year-old by Wild Rush set a stakes record time of 1:48.90 in the 2010 Japan Cup Dirt. He comes in off a third-place as the favorite behind Japan Cup Dirt entrants Wonder Acute and Civil War in the JBC Classic Nov. 5.

U.Carrot Farm’s multiple group winner To the Glory, a 5-year-old by King Kamehameha, will make his first start on dirt while aiming for a breakthrough group I win.

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