Sunday Racing’s Vermilion saved ground on the backstretch and accelerated past the leaders in the final furlong to win the $2.4-million Japan Cup Dirt (Jpn-I) by 1 1/4 lengths on Nov. 24, giving champion jockey Yutaka Take his fourth win in the event. In the process, Vermilion set a record on the Tokyo Racecourse dirt track.
Going off as the 2-1 favorite, Vermilion completed the 2,100 meters (about 1 5/16 miles) in 2:06.7, breaking the record previously held by Kane Hekili. Field Rouge finished second, while Sunrise Bacchus was third.
American hope Student Council was the top U.S.-bred finisher, placing eighth in a field 16 while going off as the 7-1 third choice.
With Take guiding him to the outside for his winning move, Vermilion, a lightly-raced 5-year-old horse by El Condor Pasa, scored for the third time in four starts this year, earning more than $1.1-million for the win. Vermilion, out of the Sunday Silence mare Scarlet Lady, had raced just once since his fourth-place finish in the March 31 Dubai World Cup (UAE-I)-- it was a four-length victory on Oct. 31 in the $1.5-million JBC Classic.
“Since the Dubai World Cup, he showed visible improvement in giving his best effort right up to the finish line, and that’s when I felt he had really matured both mentally and physically, and that he would make this step to becoming an even stronger horse,” said trainer Sei Ishizaka, who made it back-to-back Japan Cup Dirt victories. He won last year with Alondite. Vermilion finished fourth.
“I am truly happy that he was finally able to prove best among dirt horses in the Japan Cup Dirt and becoming a JRA grade-one horse," the trainer said.
Vermilion, bred by Northern Farm, rated nicely for Take while staying toward the back of the field during much of the backstretch. He was 11th while Eishin Lombard, Blue Concorde, and English invader Kandidate set the pace. Kandidate eventually took the top spot as they rounded the final turn, but was overtaken by Wild Wonder and then Field Rouge, who burst through between horses at the top of the final 500-meter straight.
But Vermilion was moving steadily while making up ground on the outside, picking off horses one by one until he made the front in the final furlong. He drew away from Field Rouge. It was Vermillion's seventh career stakes win.
Vermilion has now earned more than $4.8-million from 20 career starts.
Student Council, winner of Pacific Classic (gr. I) and Hawthorne Gold Cup (gr. II), was fifth rounding the final turn but lacked the finishing kick that he had shown in his earlier races this year. “I was able to run him as planned until the last corner, but he had nothing left in the homestretch,” jockey Richard Migliore said of Student Council.
The other America-bred horses were Jack Sullivan, Eishin Lombard, and Cafe Olympus, who finished 12th, 13th, and 16th, respectively.