Cheval Grand Seeks Rebound in Tenno Sho (Spring)

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

April 26th, 2018

Two-mile marathon races might be a rarity in North America, but that’s far from the case in other parts of the world.

In fact, Kyoto racecourse in is set to host the Group 1 $2,685,000 Tenno Sho (Spring) this Sunday, a 3,200-meter test of stamina that is considered one of the most prestigious two-mile races in the world.

Over the last dozen years, the race has been won by some of Japan’s greatest horses, including Deep Impact, , and Gold Ship. The 2018 renewal of the race lacks any similar standout stars, but with a wide-open field of seventeen starters, it should be an excellent betting race.

By far the most accomplished horse in the field is , Trained by Yasuo Tomomichi, the son of Heart’s Cry finished a strong second behind Kitasan Black in this race last year, proving that he can handle the marathon distance. He also reiterated his class last November by upsetting Kitsan Black in a memorable renewal of the Japan Cup (Jpn-I), giving Cheval Grand a breakthrough win at the Group 1 level.

Cheval Grand enters the Tenno Sho off of a surprising thirteenth-place finish in the Osaka Hai (Jpn-I) earlier this month, but Tomomichi told JRA Publicity that he expects Cheval Grand to rebound from that performance. “It was his first race of the year last time, and I think the 2,000 meters on the inner course at Hanshin was probably a bit short for him,” Tomomichi said.

Even still, Cheval Grand could be in for a challenge from Rainbow Line. His sire, Stay Gold, has already sired two previous winners of the Tenno Sho (Spring), and Rainbow Line has lived up to his pedigree thus far by excelling at longer distances. While he could only finish twelfth in the 2016 Tenno Sho (Spring), he’s placed at the Group 1 level on several occasions and scored a career-best win in the Hanshin Daishoten (Jpn-II) going 3,000 meters at Hanshin last month, in which he defeated a deep field that included several of his Tenno Sho (Spring) rivals.

Albert, a three-time winner of the 3,600-meter Stayers Stakes (Jpn-II) at Nakayama, has unquestionable stamina but has yet to place at the Group 1 level despite several attempts and was most recently fourth in the Hanshin Daishoten. Curren Mirotic, fifth in the Hanshin Daishoten, was good enough to finish second in the 2016 renewal of the Tenno Sho (Spring), but the ten-year-old gelding has not finished in the top four since then and will need to step up his game on Sunday.

Other contenders include Satono Chronicle and Clincher, second and third in the Hanshin Daishoten; Ganko, stretching out in distance following a triumphant performance in the 2,500-meter Nikkei Sho (Jpn-II) last month; and the mare Smart Layer, a multiple Group 2 winner racing beyond 2,400 meters for the first time.

The Tenno Sho (Spring) is the eleventh race on the Kyoto card, with a post time of 2:40 a.m. Eastern.