Japanese Horse of the Year Kitasan Black looks to return to winning ways when he takes on a strong field in the 1 ¼-mile Tenno Sho (Autumn) (G1) at Tokyo racecourse Oct. 29.
Kitasan Black (Black Tide) has twice won the Tenno Sho (Spring) (G1), run over two miles, and last year he also won the Japan Cup (G1). This year he won the 1 ¼-mile Osaka Hai (G1) prior to his second Tenno Sho (Spring) victory, but he was surprisingly beaten into ninth in the 1 3/8-mile Takarazuka Kinen (G1) June 25.
Popular because of his fighting qualities and because of his owner, veteran Japanese singer Saburo Kitajima, Kitasan Black is likely to run twice more after the Tenno Sho (Autumn), in the Japan Cup and the 1 9/16-mile Arima Kinen (G1).
Kitasan Black is the early favorite for the race, but with 15 other graded stakes winners (six of them grade one winners) and two ungraded stakes winners in the field, there’s plenty of opposition.
Satono Crown (Marju), winner of the 1 ½-mile Hong Kong Vase (G1) last year and the Takarazuka Kinen this year, is the second favorite. Like Kitasan Black he hasn’t run since the Takarazuka Kinen, but he’s expected to go well again.
Japanese Oaks winner Soul Stirring (Frankel), the first grade one winner for her sire, is also likely to be popular with punters, though she’ll need to improve on her first-up eight-place finish in the 1 1/8-mile Mainichi Okan (G2), which was won by another leading contender, last year’s Dubai Turf (G1) winner Real Steel (Deep Impact).
Real Steel is one of six horses by Deep Impact in the field. Another with strong claims is Satono Aladdin, winner of the one-mile Yasuda Kinen (G1) earlier this year and second to Real Steel in the Mainichi Okan.
Neorealism (Neo Universe) runs for the first time since winning the 1 ¼-mile Queen Elizabeth II Cup (G1) in Hong Kong in April, and he can’t be ignored, especially if there is rain. Also worth considering is last year’s Tokyo Yushun (Japan Derby) winner Makahiki (Deep Impact), and Staphanos (Deep Impact), who has finished second and third in the last two editions of this race.