Now that the triple tiara and crown races are complete, we can focus our attention to the last big G1’s of the year.
This edition of the G1 Tenno Sho Autumn looks to be a very strong edition. 2020 Triple Crown champ Contrail makes his long awaited return to the races after running in a very boggy G1 Osaka Hai. He’ll face a host of challengers including tough mares Gran Alegria and Curren Bouquetd’or. The young star Efforia also returns to the races after a dirty nose loss in the Japanese Derby.
Race 11 – G1 Tenno Sho Autumn – 1 1/4 Turf – 3yo & up – 2:40 am ET/11:40 pm PT
5 Efforia – This rising star in Japan will take on elders for the first time after losing by a very dirty nose in the Derby after looking like the probable winner. That event shocked a lot of people as he looked to be the next Contrail or Triple Crown champ, alas it is racing and you don’t run races on paper!. His connections had the option of running last week in the Kikuka Sho over much longer but chose this spot instead. His 2000 guineas race was a thing of Beauty and was over as soon as they hit the stretch, geared down for a very easy three length victory. He did have a dream run in behind the speed and think he has a great post to run a similar race today. The biggest question/worry for me is who will be the speed in here for him to sit behind. He does see a four pound weight break from his elders today so every little thing should help. He’ll face the toughest he’s ever faced but really think he’s up to the task.
1 Contrail – Triple Crown hero from last year came into the year with the weight of the country on his shoulders. He’s always looked to as the heir apparent to his sire Deep Impact. In his return to the races this year the cards were against him, with the G1 Osaka Hai coming up a bog and he simply hated the going. He finished 3rd on class alone but the race did a number on his body. His connections opted to send him to the farm to rest and recoup, while being aimed to a fall campaign of this race and the G1 Japan Cup. He’ll sure be the favourite again in here but the draw didn’t do him any favours. Jockey Fukunaga will need to do a bit of stick handling to pry him out of that spot and make his standard late run. He has fallen a bit further back in his recent races and Fukunaga needs to be aware of where Efforia is in the race, as that one has a blistering turn of foot and can catch some flat footed. He’s a quality horse but post and the talented Efforia make me side with that one.
15 Hishi Iguazu – The hot horse in the field, coming off of four straight victories. Was last seen in late February scoring in the G2 Nakayama Kinen over some suspect company. Was supposed to race in the G1 Takarazuka Kinen in June but never recovered from his effort in February. It’s been a bit of a race for trainer Hori to get him back into shape, so think he’s a horse on the rise but will approach this with a bit of trepidation. Love his fight and will to win as he’s not a horse that will beat you by open lengths but one that enjoys fighting it out to the wire. Hasn’t drawn that great but think his usual rider will have him forwardly placed, four or five lengths off of the leaders.
4 Potager – I don’t think this regally bred son of Deep Impact (out of Ginger Punch) has figured out this game yet as he still seems to run a bit green at times in races or racing when he wants to. Is today the day for the light to finally go on?….maybe. The one thing you can’t see in all of his PP’s is that when teamed with Jockey Kawada in five starts they’ve yet to lose!. He hops back into the saddle with Potager after choosing Danon Kingly in their last head to head (Kawada also the usual rider for Kingly, winning the G1 Yasuda Kinen on him). He has zero turn of foot and really is a grinder in his races, just plugging along and as mentioned racing in spurts during a race. With not much speed signed on in here, I’d love to see Kawada put him on the lead (if fast enough) and just grinding away to the end. I don’t think he’s good enough to beat this field but think he’ll be around at the end with a top effort.