Equinox Obliterates Tokyo Course Record In Tenno Sho

Equinox | Japan Racing Association


There had been hints that reigning Japanese Horse of the Year Equinox (Jpn) (Kitasan Black {Jpn}) was not your average champion, most especially with his geared-down tour-de-force in the desert in March, but the Silk Racing Company's colourbearer was in a zip code all his own with his course-record breaking performance in defence of his G1 Tenno Sho (Autumn) title at Tokyo on Sunday. He covered the 2000-metre trip over a firm Tokyo course in 1:55.20, 0.9 seconds faster than the previous record.

Carrying a rating of 129 on the Longines World's Best Racehorse Rankings making him the world's highest-rated racehorse since demolishing a classy international field in the G1 Dubai Sheema Classic at Meydan, the blaze-faced dark bay became only the third horse to win back-to-back Tenno Shos. Notable sire Symboli Kris S. (Jpn) (Kris S.) first accomplished that feat in 2002 and 2003, and he was followed by fellow Silk Racing representative and Japanese Horse of the Year Almond Eye (Jpn) (Lord Kanaloa {Jpn}) in 2019 and 2020.

He defeated the closing Justin Palace (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}), a half-brother to GI Belmont winner and Grade I sire Palace Malice (Curlin) and a winner of the 3200-metre G1 Tenno Sho (Spring), by 2 1/2 lengths. It was another quarter-length back to Prognosis (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}) in third. The latter, a winner of the G2 Sapporo Kinen in the lead up to this contest, was second to Saturday's G1 Cox Plate victor and Hong Kong's leading middle-distance horse Romantic Warrior (Ire) (Acclamation {GB}) in the G1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup in April.

Bet down to 30 cents on the dollar, Equinox jumped well and secured an ideal tracking position in third, as Jack d'Or (Jpn) (Maurice {Jpn}) set out hard on the steel while tracked by Gaia Force (Jpn) (Kitasan Black {Jpn}). The field was well spread out, with the frontrunner covering the first 800 metres in :46.30, 1000 metres in :57.70, and the 1200-metres in 1:09.10. It was, however, an unsustainable tempo, and Jack d'Or abruptly threw in the towel with a quarter mile to run after covering the 1600 metres in 1:32.10. Gaia Force briefly seized the advantage with a looming Equinox making his run three deep, but the grey had attended too closely to the hot pace and folded 100 metres later. Equinox steamed home with a pair of sub-12 second 200 metre splits, getting his final 400 metres in :23.10 to win as he pleased. Justin Palace made a brave run from well off the pace, but it was too little too late to catch the champ.

“First of all, I am relieved to have been able to show the world, which I know was watching how the race favorite would run, that he is indeed a deserving colt to be named the highest rated colt,” said regular rider Christophe Lemaire. “He's not exactly

what you call a horse with incredible speed but he was able to keep up with today's rapid pace and get into another gear at the end–but I was actually surprised when I realized that we had won in a record.

“He is a versatile horse that can run from any position, stay calm during the race and make use of his speed at the finish. He can also run at longer distances such as when he won the Arima Kinen, so although there was much pressure coming into such a prestigious race as race favorite, I was confident knowing what he is capable of.”

A crowd of 77,870 attended the Tenno Sho, including the Japanese Emperor Naruhito and the Empress Masako.

Never worse than second in his nine lifetime starts, Equinox was unbeaten at two with his season-ending victory in the G2 Hai Nisai S. Second in the G1 Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas) and G1 Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby) in his first two outings at three, he has yet to taste defeat since October of 2022. All five of his victories beginning with last October's Tenno Sho (Autumn) have occurred at Group 1 level. After taking the 2400-metre Arima Kinen (Grand Prix) in December, the Dubai Sheema Classic went his way this March. The Takarazuka Kinen was secured narrowly in June, his final start until Sunday's stirring effort.

Pedigree Notes

The Japanese Champion 3-Year-Old Colt of 2022, Equinox is one of seven stakes winners for his Shadai Stallion Station-based sire. Kitasan Black, who was a dual Japanese Horse of the Year in 2016/2017 with seven career Group 1 wins including the 2017 Tenno Sho (Autumn), also has the G1 Satsuki Sho hero Sol Oriens (Jpn) to his credit and three other group winners.

Equinox, a half-brother to G3 Radio Nikkei Sho winner Weiss Meteor (Jpn) (King Kamehameha {Jpn}), is the third foal of his dam, the G3 Mermaid S. heroine Chateau Blanche (Jpn) (King Halo {Jpn}), who also raced for Silk Racing. She has a 3-year-old filly by Just A Way (Jpn), a juvenile filly named Garza Blanca (Jpn) (Kizuna {Jpn}) and a full-sister to the winner born this year.

Out of the winning Blancherie (Jpn) (Tony Bin {Ire}), his dam is from the extended family of sires G3 Prix de la Jonchere winner Bellypha (Ire) (Lyphard), G1 Premio Ernesto Ayulo Pardo victor Run And Deliver (Danzig), and G2 Prix Eugene Adam hero Bellman (Fr) (Riverman).

Sunday, Tokyo, Japan
TENNO SHO (AUTUMN)-G1, ¥421,420,000, Tokyo, 10-29, 3yo/up, 2000mT, *1:55.20 (NCR), fm.
1–EQUINOX (JPN), 128, c, 4, by Kitasan Black (Jpn)
                1st Dam: Chateau Blanche (Jpn) (GSW-Jpn,
                                $1,096,970), by King Halo (Jpn)
                2nd Dam: Blancherie (Jpn), by Tony Bin (Ire)
                3rd Dam: Maison Blanche (Jpn), by Alleged
O-Silk Racing; B-Northern Farm (Jpn); T-Tetsuya Kimura;
J-Christophe Lemaire. ¥222,394,000. Lifetime Record: HotY-
Jpn, Ch. 3yo Colt-Jpn, G1SW-UAE, 9-7-2-0, $12,558,118. *1/2
to Weiss Meteor (Jpn) (King Kamehameha {Jpn}), GSW-Jpn,
$820,531. Werk Nick Rating: A+++. *Triple Plus*. Click for the
   eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree. Click for the
   free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree.
2–Justin Palace (Jpn), 128, c, 4, Deep Impact (Jpn)–Palace
Rumor, by Royal Anthem. (¥190,000,000 Ylg '20 JRHAJUL).
O-Masahiro Miki; B-Northern Farm (Jpn); ¥88,684,000.
3–Prognosis (Jpn), 128, h, 5, Deep Impact (Jpn)–Velda (GB), by
Observatory. O-Shadai Race Horse; B-Shadai Farm (Jpn);
Margins: 2HF, 1/4, HD. Odds: 0.30, 34.10, 10.40.
Also Ran: Danon Beluga (Jpn), Gaia Force (Jpn), Admire Hadar (Jpn), Do Deuce (Jpn), Echt (Jpn), Hishi Iguazu (Jpn), North Bridge (Jpn), Jack d'Or (Jpn). Click for the JRA chart & video.


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