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Horse Racing

NHK Mile Cup Preview: The Start of a Busy Stretch of G1 Racing in Tokyo

Added to the calendar in 1996, the NHK Mile Cup gives horses another option apart from the longer distances of the fillies and colts' Classics that follow.

This week's Grade 1 race is the NHK Mile Cup, which begins five consecutive weeks of top-level action at Tokyo Racecourse throughout May and early June, and will include the Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks) and the Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby).

The big mile race this Sunday (May 7) is for 3-year-olds, both colts and fillies (but no geldings), and was added to the Japan Racing Association calendar in 1996, in order to give horses another option apart from the longer distances of the fillies and colts' Classics that follow. King Kamehameha (2004) and Deep Sky (2008) managed to win the race before going on to win the Grade 1 Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby), but they would certainly be considered out of the ordinary for achieving wins in both races.

This year sees 20 nominations for the Grade 1 NHK Mile Cup, including five fillies, so there's plenty of interest in running over the shorter trip, particularly given that Liberty Island and Sol Oriens both look set to be tested next over 2,400 meters. Colts carry 57 kg in this week's big race, with fillies claiming a 2-kg allowance, and the final field will have a maximum of 18 runners. The last filly to win was Aerolithe in 2017.

Two official trial races for the Grade 1 NHK Mile Cup have been the Grade 2 New Zealand Trophy, run over a mile at Nakayama in April, and the Grade 3 Arlington Cup, run over a mile at Hanshin, also in April. 

No Favorite Has Won the NHK Mile Cup Since 2016

First favorites have won the Grade 1 NHK Mile Cup just twice in the last 10 years, with Major Emblem being the last one to win in 2016. 

Record time for the race was set in 2010 when Danon Chantilly won in a time of 1 minute, 31.4 seconds. 

This year's winner's check is ¥130 million JPY (nearly $1 million USD).

The 28th running of the Grade 1 NHK Mile Cup will be Race 11 on the Sunday card at Tokyo, with a post time in Japan of 3:40 PM. 

Here's a look at some of the runners expected to take on the race.

Dolce More wins the Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes on December 18, 2022, at Hanshin Racecourse. (photo by WEEKLY GALLOP/Kazunari Kawata/via SANKEI)

Dolce More's Trainer Has High Hopes

The colt by Rulership was unbeaten until the New Zealand Trophy, his last race, when he had to settle for seventh place in a race that didn't quite work out for him. Despite this, Dolce More was the winner of last December's Grade 1 Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes over a mile, and trainer Naosuke Sugai hopes things go better for him in this next race. 

"He was leading out in the New Zealand Trophy last time, but the pace was a bit too quick in the back straight and it became difficult for him to maintain his lead at the end, so he eventually had to settle for seventh place," Sugai said. 

"Since that race, things have gone smoothly with him, and he's been working well uphill with stablemate Sodashi."

Kosei Miura gets the chance to ride Dolce More this time, in the jockey's bid to win his first-ever JRA Grade 1 race.

NHK Mile Cup
Eeyan works out on May 3 in Ritto, Shiga Prefecture. (ⒸSANKEI)

It's just a shoe!

Eeyan Riding a Three-Race Win Streak

Winner of the Grade 2 New Zealand Trophy last time, the colt by Silver State has now won his last three races, and with his experience at Tokyo, trainer Daishi Ito thinks Eeyan can run well again. 

"He drew inside in the New Zealand Trophy, but he started well and wanted to get on with things and had plenty of room turning for home," Ito said.

The trainer added, "He was driven out well in the closing stages to go on and win. Even though he hasn't won at Tokyo, he ran well enough there on his debut, and I don't see a problem with the course." 

Keita Tosaki will ride Eeyan in this Sunday's race.

Read the rest of this article about the NHK Mile Cup as well as the Japanese horses in contention on JRA News.

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Author: JRA News

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