Mozu Katchan Seeks Repeat Win in Queen Elizabeth II Cup

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

November 9th, 2018

The autumn racing season in is well underway, and the weekly parade of Group 1 races will continue on November 11th with the Queen Elizabeth II Cup (Jpn-I) at Kyoto, a 2,200-meter event that serves as a major prize for some of the nation’s best fillies and mares.

The Filly Triple Crown winner Almond Eye is skipping the Queen Elizabeth II in favor of taking on males in the Japan Cup two weeks from now, but there’s still plenty of quality among the seventeen entrants who will face the starter.

That includes the four-year-old Mozu Katchan, who won this race last year by a neck over a deep and competitive field. She could be favored while attempting to defend her title, though her preparations haven’t gone according to plan—trainer Ippo Sameshima told the Japan Racing Association that he “had planned to race her in the October 13th Fuchu Himba Stakes,” but “she ran a fever and had to be withdrawn… She tends to improve with a prep, but she did run very well in the [August 19th] Sapporo Kinen even though it was her first race in 4 1/2 months. This time, the time between races is less, so I think she’ll be able to access all her power.”

Her main competition could come from , a capable and consistent four-year-old still seeking her first Group 1 win after finishing second at this level four times previously, including a nose defeat in the Victoria Mile (Jpn-I) back in May. The daughter of Heart’s Cry enters off a strong runner-up effort in the Fuchu Himba Stakes and will be ridden for the first time by the internationally-renowned jockey Joao Moreira, who told the Japan Racing Association “I rode her for the first time this week and she was eager, full of energy and her condition was good, so I’m satisfied with her.”

The three-year-old fillies Cantabile and Normcore can boast some fine form lines against their own age group; in fact, Cantabile finished a strong third behind Almond Eye in the Shuka Sho (Jpn-I) and could be among the main players in the Queen Elizabeth II. Meanwhile, Normcore is one of just two fillies entering Sunday’s race off of a victory, having won the September 8th Shion Stakes (Jpn-III) by three lengths with a strong finish.

Admire Lead, winner of the 2017 Victoria Mile (Jpn-I), will be attempting to end a six-race losing streak. The same goes for last year’s Kyoto Daishoten (Jpn-II) winner Smart Layer, though many of Smart Layer’s recent defeats have come in top-class races against males, so she could find the competition a bit easier on Sunday.

The complete entries for the Queen Elizabeth II Cup can be viewed on the Japan Racing Association website. The race is the eleventh of the day at Kyoto, with a post time of 1:40 a.m. Eastern.