The Thoroughbred Corp.'s War Emblem, the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner who has been purchased for stud duty in Japan by the Yoshida family's Shadai Stallion Station, has been nominated for the Nov. 23 Japan Cup Dirt, the main track companion race to the Japan Cup turf race held the following day.
Both races have been shifted to Nakayama racecourse from Tokyo racecourse while the latter track's grandstand is being rebuilt. The Japan Cup Dirt, a $2-million race, will be shortened to nine furlongs from its usual 1 3/16 miles, while the $4-million Japan Cup, normally a 1 1/2-mile race, will be run at 1 3/8 miles.
The Japan Cup Dirt has not been mentioned by trainer Bob Baffert as a specific target for War Emblem, who is expected to be retired after running in the Breeders' Cup Classic at Arlington Park on Oct. 26. However, racing stable manager Richard Mulhall said when the son of Our Emblem was sold to the Yoshidas that the Japan Cup Dirt would not be ruled out.
War Emblem is one of 13 North American horses on the preliminary nominations list. The others are: Abreeze, Investor's Dream, Cat's At Home, Dollar Bill, Burning Roma, Balto Star, Pure Prize, Pleasantly Perfect, Milwaukee Brew, Medaglia d'Oro, Momentum, and Reba's Gold.
International nominees for the Dirt are, from England, Best of the Bests; Gateman, and Nayef; from Ireland, Hawk Wing, Landseer, and Rock of Gibraltar; from Germany, War Blade, Pappus; and, from Hong Kong, Red Sun.
Eleven North American runners have been nominated to the Japan Cup on turf: Kachamandi, Continental Red, The Tin Man, Sarafan, Denon, Deputy Strike, Delta Form, Night Patrol, Balto Star, Blazing Fury, and Macho Uno.
Nominated from England are: Beekeeper, Ekraar, Golan, Grandera, Hatha Anna, Indian Creek, Kazzia, Marienbard, Mubtaker, Nayef, Pugin, Storming Home.
From Ireland: Hawk Wing, High Chaparral, Irresistible Jewel, Rock of Gibraltar, and Sholokhov.
From France: Aquarelliste, Ange Gabriel, Califet, Choc Ice, Tigertail, Bright Sky, and Polish Summer.
From Germany: Tomoro, Paolini, and Boreal.
From Italy: Falbrav and Rakti.
From Australia: Ustinov, Sandmason, Northerly, Fields of Omagh, Magical Miss, and Universal Prince.
From New Zealand: Distinctly Secret and Prized Gem.
From Hong Kong: Indigenous and Housemaster.
Japanese horses will be named at a later date.
The last American-based horse to win the Japan Cup was Golden Pheasant in 1991. The last four running have been won by Japanese horses. The Japan Cup Dirt, inaugurated by the Japan Racing Association in 2000, has had both of its renewals won by Japanese horses.