There’s plenty of top-class racing action going on around the world this weekend, but arguably no race can offer a field as competitive and talented as the one that will line up to contest Sunday’s Yasuda Kinen (Jpn-I) at Tokyo Racecourse in Japan.
Held at 1,600 meters (about one mile) on turf, the Yasuda Kinen is absolutely packed with proven Group 1 competitors and should offer bettors plenty of options for making a nice score. In addition, the race is a “Win and You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Mile, so there’s always a possibility that we could see the winner compete in the Breeders’ Cup Mile later this year.
The most familiar name in the Yasuda Kinen, at least to U.S. racing fans, might be Real Steel, winner of the 2016 Dubai Turf (UAE-I) and third in that same race this year. Yet despite his obvious talent, he’s yet to win a Group 1 race in Japan and could be something of a longshot in the Yasuda Kinen, which says something about the depth of the field!
Among the horses that might be preferred in the wagering are Suave Richard and Persian Knight. The former finished second in the Japanese Derby last year and is 2-for-2 so far this season, including a victory over Persian Knight in the Osaka Hai (Jpn-I) at Hanshin. But that race was held over 2,000 meters, which may have been too far for Persian Knight, who is 3-for-4 going 1,600 meters, a record highlighted by a narrow triumph in the Mile Championships (Jpn-I) at Kyoto in November.
Then there’s Red Falx, a two-time winner of the Sprinters Stakes (Jpn-I) at Nakayama. He might be at his best as a sprinter, but he did finish third in the 2017 Yasuda Kinen, beaten just half a length. Meanwhile, Satono Ares proved his worth win a triumph in the Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes (Jpn-I) at the end of 2016. And don’t forget the fillies! Aerolithe won the NHK Mile Cup (Jpn-I) over this course and distance last May, Reine Minoru prevailed in the 2017 Oka Sho (Jpn-I), and Lys Gracieux has finished second four times against Group 1 company, including a nose defeat in the Victoria Mile (Jpn-I) at Tokyo last time out.
Throw in Western Express, runner-up in both the Longines Hong Kong Mile (HK-I) and the Champions Mile (HK-I), plus the Japanese Group 2 or Group 3 stakes winners Black Moon, Dashing Blaze, He’s in Love, Sungrazer, and Win Gagnant, and you have a race that figures to be nothing less than an epic showdown among some of the best milers in the Far East.
The Yasuda Kinen is the eleventh race of the day at Tokyo, with a post time of 2:40 a.m. Eastern.