Deep Impact Runs Away With Japan Horse of the Year Honors

Edited Japan Racing Association release
Deep Impact, the first colt to claim all three Triple Crown races while still undefeated since Symboli Rudolf 21 years ago, has been named the near-unanimous winner of the Japan Racing Association's 2005 Horse of the Year award, collecting 285 out of 291 votes. Heart's Cry, the year's best Older Colt Or Horse and the only opponent to beat Deep Impact, by a half-length in the year-end Arima Kinen (Jpn-I), was the only other contestant considered for the year's top award.

Deep Impact's historic achievements during the year also earned him unanimous selection as top 3-Year-Old Colt. Cesario and Hat Trick, who both turned in strong performances in overseas racing, were named best 3-Year-Old Filly and best Sprinter/Miler, respectively. Cesario also won the award for best Horse by Home-Bred Sire.

Katsuhiko Sumii claimed the best trainer (by money earned) title, having trained not only Cesario and Hat Trick, but also Kane Hekili, who enjoyed his own extremely successful 3-year-old season by rivaling the achievements of Deep Impact on dirt and proving himself a worthy opponent of older grade I racers. Sumii, who has trained for just six seasons, has already made an international name for himself with two grade I victories overseas and is expected to vie for JRA awards for years to come.

All but one of nine awards to horses were received comfortably, with each winner receiving well above 200 votes. The one closely contested award was best 3-Year-Old Filly. Cesario claimed the title by just nine votes over Rhein Kraft, who captured two grade I titles, including a victory against older male runners in the NHK Mile Cup.

Tsutomu Setoguchi, who trained Rhein Kraft, won best trainer (races won) for the first time. Setoguchi had saddled many outstanding JRA award winners in past seasons, including Oguri Cap ('90 Horse of the Year, best Older Colt or Horse, '88 best 3-Year-Old Colt), God Speed ('99 best Steeplechase Horse) and Neo Universe ('03 best 3-Year-Old Colt). Kazuo Fujisawa, who has dominated the trainers' titles in recent several years, was named best trainer (training technique), based on winning percentage, number of starts, win rates and earnings per stall.

Yutaka Take renewed his JRA record by winning an eighth Grand Prize Jockey award after another spectacular season that was made all the more memorable by taking part in Deep Impact's historic year as the colt's only jockey. Take also established a single-season record for grade I titles with 11, and reached 200 wins for the third consecutive year.

The Equine Culture Award, which recognizes noteworthy achievements and contributions to Japanese equine culture, was presented to NHK Broadcasting for its documentary "Galloping to Glory," which generated increased interest in Deep Impact's successfyl season.