Japan Cup Report (Cont.)

French Deputy heated up this year, making Yoshida's purchase seem fortuitous. He's had eight stakes winners in 2001, including Left Bank, who won the Cigar Mile (gr. I) at Aqueduct the same day as the JC Dirt. Another is Bella Bellucci, a grade II-winning full sister to Kurofune who finished third in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I).

Kurofune is finished for the year because his connections have ambitious plans for him in 2002. He'll probably run next in the February Stakes, a grade I dirt race in Japan, and in March contest the $6-million Dubai World Cup (UAE-I), where Lido Palace is also headed. If all goes well, Kurofune will come to the U.S. for the Breeders' Cup Classic.

Japan's Adopted Son

Olivier Peslier has made Japan his winter home in recent years, and the 28-year-old French jockey has been popular and successful. Until this year, the Japan Cup had eluded him, perhaps because he was not riding for the home team.

Jungle Pocket's owner liked Peslier's style and gave him the mount on the son of Tony Bin for the first time in the Japan Cup. The decision likely spelled the difference between victory and defeat.

Peslier's handling of the late-running Jungle Pocket was masterful and drew an enthusiastic roar from the crowd when he brought the winner back to the stands after the race. The Frenchman saved ground when possible, then swung the bay colt out at just the right time at the top of the stretch, emerging from the pack with a devastating turn of foot in the last 200 meters of the 2,400-meter race (1 1/2 miles). Jungle Pocket was up in the final strides under energetic handling to win by a neck over T.M. Opera O, a Japanese-bred horse by Opera House who appeared to a be a sure winner in midstretch.

Narita Top Road, Stay Gold, and Meisho Doto completed the sweep for Japan, with English Two Thousand Guineas (Eng-I) winner Golan sixth in what his connections said would be the final career start for the 3-year-old son of Spectrum, who is retiring to Coolmore in Ireland. Next was the 8-year-old Hong Kong wonder, Indigenous, who was followed by an American duo of White Heart and With Anticipation. Japanese runners American Boss and Daiwa Texas were 10th and 11th, respectively, with Brazilian-bred/American-trained Cagney 12th, followed by Germany's Paolini, Japan's To the Victory, and America's Timboroa, who was distanced.

Bailey led with Timboroa through moderate early fractions, as With Anticipation rated just behind him in second. Midway down the backstretch, though, To the Victory made a suicidal run from near last to first, hooking up with Timboroa and forcing the Frankel runner to pick up the pace. Those two were finished at the top of the stretch, giving With Anticipation a brief advantage. But T.M. Opera O quickly took over and led until the shadow of the finish.

Jungle Pocket was the 3-1 second choice behind 9-5 favorite T.M. Opera O. The win was his fifth in nine starts and his first since the Japanese Derby in May. He will bypass the season-ending Arima Kinen (Jpn-I) and point for a return next spring. His owner said he would consider an international excursion for Jungle Pocket next summer or fall. T.M. Opera O will make his final career start in the Arima Kinen before going to stud.

Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (Fr-I) winner Tony Bin, the sire of Jungle Pocket, stood at Shadai Farm until his death from heart failure in March of 2000. He was the last horse other than Sunday Silence to be leading sire in Japan, heading the general sire list in 1994, when Sunday Silence's first crop of foals were 2-year-olds. Jungle Pocket's dam, the unraced Dance Charmer, by recently deceased Nureyev and out of Fred Hooper's Florida-bred multiple graded stakes winner Skillful Joy, was purchased for $115,781 at the 1995 Tattersalls December sale from Gainsborough Stud.

Japan Cup Notes

Attendance was up both days despite a major grandstand rebuilding project that will force next year's Japan Cup races to be run at Nakayama, where the races are contested clockwise, which will make the challenge even more daunting for the Americans. The races will be contested at shorter distances because of Nakayama's configuration, the Japan Cup going at 2,200 meters (about 1 3/8 miles) and the JC Dirt at 1,800 meters (nine furlongs).