Everything you need to know about betting the Yasuda Kinen

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June 4th, 2021

If you’re so excited following Saturday’s Belmont S. (G1) that you can’t even wind down to fall asleep, you’ll be happy to know the Japan Racing Association is providing U.S. racing fans with a little overnight activity highlighted by Sunday’s Yasuda Kinen (G1) at Tokyo Racecourse.

What is the Yasuda Kinen?

Held over 1,600 meters on turf, the Yasuda Kinen (post time 2:40 a.m. ET) serves as an opportunity for Japan’s best milers and middle-distance runners to wrap up their spring campaigns on a high note. The Japan Racing Association will not conduct Group 1 racing between July and September, so the Yasuda Kinen is actually the penultimate top-level prize on the schedule until October.

Who are the key contenders?

As is fitting for such an important event, 14 horses have been entered in the Yasuda Kinen, including the past two winners: #5 Gran Alegria, the lone mare in the field, and #8 Indy Champ, a six-year-old veteran.

A Japanese classic winner in 2019, Gran Alegria was a monster sprinter/miler in 2020, winning three times against Group 1 company. After beating superstar Almond Eye by 2 1/2 lengths in the Yasuda Kinen (where she blazed home in 1:31.6), Gran Alegria beat males again in the 1,200-meter Sprinters S. (G1) and 1,600-meter Mile Championship (G1), on both occasions finishing strongly to record fast times.

Gran Alegria was as sharp as ever in the Victoria Mile (G1) against fellow fillies and mares at Tokyo last month, sprinting the final 600 meters in a sensational :32.6 to dominate by four lengths in 1:31.0. She’ll be tough to beat while returning to Tokyo for the Yasuda Kinen and looms as a heavy favorite under Japan’s leading jockey, Christophe Lemaire.

Indy Champ is no slouch either. It’s been a while since the son of Stay Gold has visited the winner’s circle, and he finished behind Gran Alegria when placing in the 2020 Yasuda Kinen and Mile Championship. But he usually runs well at Tokyo and fired off a huge race in the 2019 Yasuda Kinen, pouncing at just the right moment to beat Group 1 winners Aerolithe and Almond Eye in 1:30.9.

How should I bet the Yasuda Kinen?

Assuming Gran Alegria brings her A-game (and receives something resembling a clean trip), it’s difficult to envision a scenario where she falls to defeat. For exotic wagers like the trifecta, Indy Champ is a logical choice to key underneath, considering he prepped with a close third-place finish in the 1,200-meter Takamatsunomiya Kinen (G1). Returning to Tokyo and stretching back out over 1,600 meters can land Indy Champ a spot in the money.

For the remaining slots of our tickets, we’ll use 2020 Tokyo Yushun (G1) runner-up #1 Salios, 2017 Asahi Hai Futurity (G1) winner #6 Danon Premium, recent Milers Cup (G2) hero #12 Cadence Call, and the last two NHK Mile Cup (G1) winners, #7 Lauda Sion and #13 Schnell Meister.

$3 Trifecta: 5 with 8 with 1,6,7,12,13 ($15)
$3 Trifecta: 5 with 1,6,7,12,13 with 8 ($15)
Total: $30

Good luck!