The Yushun Horse Club’s Japan-based star Espoir City arrived at Churchill Downs Oct. 19 for a run in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I)), settling in his stall in the quarantine barn early in the morning.
Espoir City flew from Japan to Chicago, where he changed planes for the short flight to Louisville.
“It was his first time to travel out of Japan and he handled it well,” trainer Akio Adachi said through an interpreter. “All the flights were on time and there were no problems. It was a long flight and he was his companion.”
Espoir City is expected to be in quarantine for 48 hours and Adachi said the 5-year-old would go to the track for training Oct. 21 “if time permits.” Jockey Tetsuzo Sato is scheduled to come to Louisville Oct. 22 for a three-day stay before returning to Japan to honor a riding commitment and then return to Louisville.
Sato accompanied Adachi to Louisville in July to get a firsthand look at Churchill Downs. As Adachi watched horses train Tuesday morning, he was asked how preparations had gone with Espoir City since the last time he was in Louisville.
“Better than expected,” Adachi said. “His first race back (from a five-month layoff, runner-up on Oct. 11) was good and he needed that race.”
The two-time group I winner has compiled a record of 11-4-1 from 20 starts for earnings of $5,963,979, including a victory in the Japan Cup Dirt (Jpn-I) in December.
Adachi said he has not committed to giving the horse one or two works prior to the Nov. 6 Classic. Although it will not be dark for the race, the lights will be on at Churchill Downs.
“The lights are not a concern,” Adachi said. “The JRA (Japan Racing Association) has lights and he has raced under the lights.”