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Yasuda Kinen Preview: The Finale of a 5-Week Run of G1 Racing in Tokyo

For the 74th Yasuda Kinen, Hong Kong's Romantic Warrior and Voyage Bubble are entered in the 18-horse field. Will the race favorite end a long title drought?

Five weeks of top-level action at Tokyo Racecourse finally comes to an end on Sunday, June 2 with the Grade 1 Yasuda Kinen. It will round out the feature races that have attracted so much attention these past few weeks, giving racing fans a glimpse of what to expect in the latter half of the year.

The 74th running of the Yasuda Kinen promises to be special, with two of Hong Kong's best horses traveling over for the race. Bidding to give Hong Kong its third win in the race, Romantic Warrior and Voyage Bubble will do battle with the Japanese horses over the distance of a mile on the turf course at Tokyo. 

Hong Kong's previous winners were Fairy King Prawn (2000) and Bullish Luck (2006). The race was first run in 1951, and was named after the first president of the JRA, Izaemon Yasuda. It became a Grade 1 race in 1984, and an international Grade 1 in 1993. Since then it has attracted over 50 horses from overseas.

There are 18 nominations for Sunday's G1 race, which will have a maximum 18-runner field. It is open to 3-year-olds and up, with the latter set to carry 54 kg, while 4-year-olds and above carry 58 kg. Fillies and mares receive a 2-kg allowance.

Yasuda Kinen By the Numbers 

In the last 10 years, just two first favorites have won the race, with Maurice the last to do so in 2015. 

During the same time period, 4-year-olds have been the most successful with five wins. The last 3-year-old to win was Real Impact in 2011.

Record time for the race was set by Indy Champ in 2019, when he won in a time of 1 minute, 30.9 seconds.  

This year's winner's check is ¥180 million JPY (about $1.1 million USD), and the winner also receives an automatic entry to the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Mile in November.

A number of horses entered in the Sunday, June 2 race participated in the Grade 2 Yomiuri Milers Cup, run at Kyoto on April 21, and the Grade 1 Victoria Mile, run at Tokyo on May 12.

The 74th running of the Grade 1 Yasuda Kinen will be Race 11 on this Sunday's card at Tokyo. Post time is 3:40 PM. 

Here's a look at some of the Japanese horses set to take on the race.

Yasuda Kinen
Soul Rush leads the field en route to victory in the Yomiuri Milers Cup on April 21 at Kyoto Racecourse. (©SANKEI)

Soul Rush Aims for 2nd Consecutive Victory 

Expected to be one of the top picks among the Japanese runners, the Rulership-sired Soul Rush might not have tasted success at the very top level, but it's not for the lack of trying. 

Finishing fourth in the December 2023 Grade 1 Hong Kong Mile, Soul Rush won his lone race so far in 2024 in the G2 Yomiuri Milers Cup.

"He ran a strong race last time, even without having blinkers on, and it was good that he didn't need to rely on the running rail," assistant trainer Yuki Iwasaki said of the 6-year-old.

Iwasaki added, "He came out of the race well, and after a stay at the farm, things have been as usual with him back at the stable."

Giving another boost to Soul Rush's chances is the booking of Joao Moreira for the ride.

Yasuda Kinen
Serifos exercises at the JRA Ritto Training Center on May 29. (©SANKEI)

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Serifos Enters the Yasuda Kinen for the 3rd Straight Year

Jockey Yuga Kawada and trainer Mitsumasa Nakauchida team up with Serifos in Sunday's race. The horse finished fourth and second in 2022 and 2023, respectively, in the Yasuda Kinen.

"He might not have been in the very best condition for his last race, but he still put in a good run," assistant trainer Taku Fukunaga commented.

Fukunaga added, "He's been at the stable since, and there weren't any problems after his last race. There are strong horses in this next Grade 1 [event], but he did finish second in the race last year, and he has won over a mile at Tokyo."

Serifos was the runner-up to Soul Rush last time out in the Yomiuri Milers Cup, and will be looking to reverse the placings.

Yasuda Kinen
Namur prepares for the Yasuda Kinen during a workout in Ritto, Shiga Prefecture, on May 29. (©SANKEI)

Trainer Seeks a Strong Start for Namur

After a couple of good runs in Hong Kong and Dubai (third and eighth, respectively, in December 2023 and in March 2024), Namur was the second favorite for the Grade 1 Victoria Mile in Tokyo. But Namur could only manage eighth in that race.

According to trainer Tomokazu Takano, she doesn't always get off to the best of starts,

"She can get restless in the gate, and it doesn't help her jump smoothly," the trainer said. "Her front legs can go up, and it means her timing isn't smooth at the start.

"In the Victoria Mile, she ended up settling at the rear and found a good rhythm. But from the final corner she wasn't able to run well in the way that she usually does."

Legendary jockey Yutaka Take once again rides the 5-year-old mare Namur.


Read the rest of this article about the Yasuda Kinen and the Japanese horses in contention on JRA News.

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Author: JRA News

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