Just a Way unleashed an explosive burst of speed 400 meters out and romped away to win the Tenno Sho (Autumn) (Jpn-I) Oct. 27, overwhelming Japan's reigning Horse of the Year Gentildonna and last year's winner, Eishin Flash.
The 15-1 fifth choice in the 17-horse field at Tokyo Racecourse, the 4-year-old Heart's Cry colt won by four widening lengths after stalking from well off the pace on the final turn, where Gentildonna tracked just behind pacesetter Tokei Halo from second.
As Gentildonna moved to take charge in midstretch, Just a Way stormed furiously on the outside and shot past the filly, who was making her first start in four months and was no match for the winner.
"She got too good of a start," jockey Yasunari Iwata told the Japan Times about 2-1 favorite Gentildonna, who entered winless in two previous starts this year including her runner-up finish in the Dubai Sheema Classic (UAE-I) in March. "When you jump out that well, it's tough to drop her back into mid-field. You have to credit the winning horse; he was awesome. The going was fine, the turf was dry."
Guided by Yuichi Fukunaga, Just a Way covered 2,000 meters (about 1 1/4 miles) on firm turf in 1:57.50 in a breakthrough performance at the top level.
Third-place finisher Eishin Flash won last year's edition of the Tenno Sho by a half-length over favorite Fenomeno. Eishin Flash raced several lengths in front of Just a Way early in this year's race, but encountered traffic on the final turn and did not get a clear run until 300 meters out. He finished two lengths behind Gentildonna.
Just a Way came into the Tenno Sho with three second-place finishes in group stakes, including a second to Eishin Flash in the Mainichi Oka (Jpn-II) Oct. 6 at Tokyo. With his Tenno Sho victory, he snapped a 10-race winless stretch dating back to the only other stakes win on his record, the Arlington Cup (Jpn-III) Feb. 25, 2102. He was sixth in last year's Tenno Sho.
Trained by Naosuke Sugai for owner Akatsuki Yamatoya, Just a Way has three wins, five seconds, and a third from 16 career starts. His record includes six group placings. Yamatoya bought Just a Way for $135,396 from consignor Shiraoi Farm at the 2010 JRHA select yearling sale.
Bred by Shadai Corp. out of the Wild Again mare Sibyl, Just a Way is a half brother to group III-placed Sky No Dan. Second dam Charon won the 1990 Coaching Club American Oaks (gr. I) and finished second to the season's eventual champion 3-year-old filly Go for Wand in three other group I events that year.
Just a Way is from the second crop of Japanese champion Heart's Cry and is the first group I winner for 7-year-old son of Sunday Silence, who stands at Shadai Stallion Station in Hokkaido.