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Horse Racing

Tenno Sho (Autumn) Preview: The Spotlight Shines on Equinox

Equinox, who has six victories in eight career starts, has a shot at becoming the third thoroughbred to win back-to-back fall versions of the Tenno Sho.

On Sunday, October 29, Tokyo Racecourse hosts the 168th running of the Tenno Sho (Autumn), one of Japan's most prestigious and challenging races. The iconic competition is run over 2,000 meters of turf at Tokyo, and is considered to be one of the Japan Racing Association's most difficult tests. 

Starting in the pocket to the right of the grandstand, it allows horses and jockeys only a short span of ground to gain an advantageous position before going into the backstretch.

Carrying a first prize of ¥220 million JPY (nearly $1.5 million USD) and a total purse of over ¥475 million JPY ($3.16 million USD), Sunday's race is highlighted by 2022 Tenno Sho (Autumn) winner Equinox, looking to join only two others (Symboli Kris S and Almond Eye) that have won back-to-back fall versions of the Tenno Sho. 

The Kitasan Black-sired Equinox is riding a high wave of victory, one that landed him a list-topping rating of 129 in the latest LONGINES World's Best Racehorse Rankings.

Tenno Sho Challengers

Equinox has some interesting competition, though: 2022 Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby) winner Do Deuce and the 2,000-meter specialist Prognosis, who won the Grade 2 Sapporo Kinen in August. Last year's third-place finisher Danon Beluga is also back.

Joining the two regular non-Japanese riders Christophe Lemaire and Mirco Demuro will be Joao Moreira, adding a scintillating touch of world-level prowess and an unsettling unknown to predicting the outcome.

Emperor Naruhito is scheduled to attend the race

Here's a more-detailed look at the likely top picks.

Tenno Sho
Equinox (center) participates in a training session in Miho, Ibaraki Prefecture, on October 25. (ⒸSANKEI)

Equinox Riding a Four-Race Win Streak

The son of super champ Kitasan Black has never finished out of the Top 2 in his eight-race career. Equinox will be going to the gate with the momentum of a four-race G1 winning streak, one that has never seen him disappoint as the favorite. 

In 2022, with Panthalassa, who was gunning for a wire to wire, Equinox shifted into high gear down the stretch to land his first Grade 1 victory, a length ahead at the finish with a final three-furlong time of 32.7 seconds. 

Christophe Lemaire and Equinox reach the wire to win the 166th Tenno Sho (Autumn) on October 30, 2022, at Tokyo Racecourse. (ⒸSANKEI)

After the race, he went on to capture the Arima Kinen (The Grand Prix) before jetting to Dubai to claim the Sheema Classic. 

This year, he's back after four months off following his win in the Grade 1 Takarazuka Kinen over 2,200 meters at Hanshin. Last week, he turned in a sharp workout at his Miho, Ibaraki Prefecture, training base under his regular partner Lemaire, who's tied at the top in the JRA Jockey Rankings with Yuga Kawada and fresh off a win in the Kikuka Sho (Japanese St Leger) on October 22.

Tenno Sho
Do Deuce exercises at the JRA Ritto Training Center on October 25 in Ritto, Shiga Prefecture. (ⒸSANKEI)

It's just a shoe!

Do Deuce to Renew Rivalry with Equinox 

Do Deuce, winner of the 2021 Grade 1 Asahi Futurity Stakes for 2-year-olds and the 2022 Japanese Derby, followed that up with fourth place in the Grade 2 Prix Niel prep in France before finishing 19th place in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. He last raced in February 2023, claiming the Grade 2 Kyoto Kinen, and traveled to Dubai the following month. Headed for the Dubai Turf, he was forced to scratch when slight lameness was detected. 

Last week, he looked fit and on schedule under regular rider Yutaka Take. Do Deuce, by Heart's Cry, has proven consistent with all at-home finishes in the Top 3. He and Equinox will be meeting for the first time since the Derby, where the latter chased Do Deuce down the stretch (both from the rear of the field), but failed to catch him and finished a neck behind. 

Tenno Sho
Jockey Yutaka Take (ⒸSANKEI)

Take will be participating in the Tenno Sho (Autumn) for the first time since 2020, but he tops all jockeys with his 14 wins of the Tenno Sho (either version). And Take is one short of the record (seven wins) of the autumn version claimed by racing legend Takayoshi Yasuda. 

Trainer Yasuo Tomomichi is a two-time Tenno Sho (Spring) winner. But even after fielding 14 previous runners in the fall edition, he is still gunning for his first win in the autumn race.

Read the rest of this article about the Tenno Sho as well as the Japanese horses in contention on JRA News.

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Author: JRA News

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