French shipper Freedonia among foreign runners in Sunday's Japan Cup.

French shipper Freedonia among foreign runners in Sunday's Japan Cup.

Ray Paulick

TVG Airing Weekend's International Races From Japan

TVG will offer wagering and dual telecasts of the weekend's two major grade I international races from Japan -- Saturday's Japan Cup Dirt and Sunday's Japan Cup, a mile and one-half turf fixture featuring recent Emirates Airline Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT) winner Ouija Board.

With the time zone in Japan 14 hours ahead of the Eastern U.S., the two-hour telecasts will begin at 12:30 a.m. Saturday and Sunday mornings (9:30 p.m. Pacific time Friday and Saturday evenings). Post time will be approximately 1:20 a.m. Eastern.

TVG has dispatched a four-man crew, led by senior vice president and executive producer Tony Allevato. Commentators Simon Bray and Todd Schrupp will report on the races from the Tokyo Race Course. In addition to the race coverage, TVG will present several features, including a profile of the Miho Training Center, a closer look at the dirt and turf layouts of the Tokyo track, and a behind-the-scenes look at the facility, which is in the final stage of a multi-year rebuilding project.

The telecasts will be shown on TVG and several Fox affiliates, including Fox New York, FSN Prime Ticket, and Sports South.

The $2.4-million Japan Cup Dirt, a 1 5/16-mile race on the dirt, has a field of 15, headed by Seeking the Dia, a son of Storm Cat who was beaten a nose in last year's renewal. No international horses accepted the challenge of the JC Dirt.

The $4.6-million Japan Cup, with 11 runners, marks the return to Japan of two of that country's biggest stars: 2005 Japanese Horse of the Year Deep Impact, who crossed the line third in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe Lucien Barriere (Fr-I) at Longchamp last month but was disqualified because of a medication violation; and Heart's Cry, the Dubai Sheema Classic (UAE-I) winner who most recently finished third to Hurricane Run in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Stakes (Eng-I) in Ascot in July. Joining Ouija Board as the only other non-Japanese competitor is Freedonia, a French based filly who finished second to English Channel in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational Stakes (gr. IT) at Belmont Park last month.