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BRINGING ASIAN RACING TO THE WORLD
Tokyo's NHK Mile Cup in May provides a still-testing 1600m Group 1 option for those perhaps lacking in the requisite stamina to take on Japan's best staying three-year-olds over the Classic distances.
The NHK Mile Cup in early May gives Japan’s three-year-old colts a fallback option if the 2,000 metres of their first Classic test, the Satsuki Sho, is beyond them. It also hands the Classic fillies an opportunity to spring right out of their Classic, the Oka Sho, and take on the boys around Tokyo’s testing mile.
The girls have succeeded five times since Seeking The Pearl scored in 1997 and that filly went on to become the first Japanese-trained Group 1 winner in Europe when she landed the Prix Maurice de Gheest the following year. The NHK Mile Cup’s list of past winners features another international trailblazer, the 1999 Arc runner-up El Condor Pasa, as well as the noted sires Kurofune, Mikki Isle and King Kamehameha.
The supremely talented King Kamehameha was Japan’s champion three-year-old in 2004 but went through a tough ‘rotation’ to achieve that accolade, which ultimately led to his trainer Kunihide Matsuda facing criticism. The colt won both of his races as a late-season juvenile but tasted his only defeat in an eight-race career when he began his Classic campaign over 2,000 metres in January of that year.
King Kamehameha won over 2,200 metres and 2,000 metres at his next two starts and then posted a stunning five-length victory when dropped in trip for the NHK Mile. Just 21 days later, he stepped up to 2,400 metres and won the Tokyo Yushun by a length and a half from Heart’s Cry. King Kamehameha raced once more, for a Grade 2 success that September, but a tendon injury forced his early retirement.
He stood at Shadai Stallion Station where he numbered Lord Kanaloa, Duramente, Rose Kingdom and Apapane among his best progeny until his death in August 2019.
|2022||Danon Scorpion||Yuga Kawada||Takayuki Yasuda||Danon Co. Ltd.||1:32.3|
|2021||Schnell Meister||Christophe Lemaire||Takahisa Tezuka||Sunday Racing||1:31.6|
|2020||Lauda Sion||Mirco Demuro||Takashi Saito||Silk Racing||1:32.5|
|2019||Admire Mars||Mirco Demuro||Yasuo Tomomichi||Riichi Kondo||1:32.4|
|2018||Keiai Nautique||Yusuke Fujioka||Osamu Hirata||Kazuhiro Kameda||1:32.8|
|2017||Aerolithe||Norihiro Yokoyama||Takanori Kikuzawa||Sunday Racing||1:32.3|
|2016||Major Emblem||Christophe Lemaire||Yasuhito Tamura||Sunday Racing||1:33.5|
|2015||Clarity Sky||Norihiro Yokoyama||Yasuo Tomomichi||Tadakuni Sugiyama||1:33.2|
|2014||Mikki Isle||Suguru Hamanaka||Hidetaka Otonashi||Mizuki Noda||1:32.7|
|2013||Meineer Ho O||Daichi Shibata||Yoshihiro Hatakeyama||K Thoroughbred Club Ruffian||1:34.5|
Lord Kanaloa has the edge as the old sires give way to the new