VODKA WINS THE 2009 EDITION OF THE JAPAN CUP. FILLIES RULE!
[See a great Japanese video of race with fun interview with French Jockey trying to answer Japanese questions in English, for the translator who apparently did not speak French. The jockey was as game as his filly. Justy is the seven horse, jockey in Jonathan's bumblebee stripes and a blue cap, lying pretty much mid-pack and surrounded throughout, ]
It was like watching Zenyatta all over again, to see the amazing bay filly, Vodka, win the Japan Cup. 2009 is definitely the Year of the Fillies!
So how did Justy do competing against the other 17 world-class horses?
The British "Racing Post" had this to say: Of the US hopes, the Jonathan Sheppard-trained Just As Well fared best, running on doggedly to take seventh."
The JRA reports: Twelfth pick JUST AS WELL partnered with Julien Leparoux traveled in mid-division right outside the race favorite, and although crowded by horses through the last two corners, hung on well in the last straight to finish seventh.
“The horses on both sides closed in on [me] between the 3rd and 4th corner and I didn’t have room, but I’m pleased with the outcome (7th) in such a big race. I’m proud of finishing the best among the American horses too.”(Julien Leparoux)
Sunday morning, and I am paying for staying up so late. But a wonderful experience to see 100,000 Japanese fans at the track -- so excited and full of enthusiasm! I need to connect with a Japanese publisher interested in translating my "Nicky Latrelle" horse-racing mystery-series! It would sell like hot cakes over there! But I digress. To watch that spectacle live, to see how differently they approach the starting gate -- they must have had 50 assistant starters -- and to see Barry Wiseman leading Justy in the paddock area was a treat!
I thought Vodka looked too thin and needed to be in better flesh to go the distance. I thought wrong. Just As Well, by comparison, looked like a tanky Northern Dancer who would handle distance. He did, just without the full late kick he needed. If Justy was seveenteen hands, he would be a true warrior.
Barry looked stressed in the walking paddock, and without the customary US lead-pony, controling the about-to-bubble-over stud colt may have been a wee bit taxing for the Wiseman. But then Jonathan tossed Julien Laparoux into the saddle, and the next time they passed by the camera, I could see Barry joking with Julien and I knew the most stressful part of his job was over.
I'm unable to find how far down the JRA pays it's finishers, but Vodka's take is only 46% of the total purse -- compared to the 65% ratio used in the US -- which leads me to hope the purse is distributed down to Just As Well!
The best part is that all 18 finished safely, Justy beat 11 horses, and finished best of the US contingent! Over all, a very satisfying result!