Sunday, November 29, 2009


In top picture, B.G. Wiseman (behind horse) walking Justy at Tokyo's quarantine center. In the second photo, that's Barry on Breeder's Cup Filly and Mare Sprint Winner, Informed Decision. Photo by Rick Samuels.

So how much did Justy make for running in 7th place?

Hey, they got a nice piece of it, after all. Simply an awesome purse payout. Barry called just before 8:00 p.m. and said if they'd finished sixth, the horse would have earned $300,000. Whoa!

I think the whole purse payout issue should be looked at here in the U.S. We complain that we can't fill our races. Maybe if owners and trainers had a chance to win a little money, even when they didn't hit the board, they'd enter more often. And maybe if the good horses took home 46% of the win purse instead of 65%, they would run more often than once every two months!

And what does the future hold for our Justy? If he wanted to, Jonathan could stand the horse at stud this spring. Justy has won over a million, and he's won a grade 1. And lest anyone say Just As Well won that grade 1 by default at Marsh Side's expense, look at the charts from the Japan Cup. Just As Well beat the pants off Marsh Side! Again.

Barry said Justy could have finished better if he hadn't been squeezed back by the field. He feels the horse is "determined. He and Jonathan are pleased the horse ran as well as he did -- in such a huge field, for such a long distance.

Barry said, "The horse is so sound, we will probably continue to run him in 2010."

I, for one, and thrilled to hear it



[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!

Saturday, November 28, 2009


Odds For The Japan Cup


Current Odds

Conduit 9/4
Vodka 4/1
Screen Hero 9/2
Logi Universe 8/1
Oken Bruce Lee 8/1
Red Desire 12/1
Interpation 20/1
Just As Well 20/1
Marsh Side 25/1
Reach The Crown 25/1
Meiner Kitz 33/1
Air Shady 33/1
Asakusa Kings 33/1
Scintillo 33/1
Eishin Deputy 50/1
Cosmo Bulk 100/1



It's 10:00 a.m. in Maryland, which means it's 1:00 a.m. in Japan and probably, our US Japan Cup contenders and their associates are sleeping. However, while you were sleeping earlier, this is what they had to say about the horses on the eve of the big race:

2009 News
November 28 2009

29th running of the Japan Cup

Training Report of Foreign Entrees

November 28, 2009 (Saturday)


*The following comments are excerpts from quotes given by the connections and transcribed as faithfully to the original text as possible.

At Tokyo Racecourse

INTERPATATION (USA, g7, dark bay or brown)

- walked, jogged 1lap (dirt course)
(ridden by David Cohen from 6:52 to 7:00,)

“He felt good this morning. We’re all set for tomorrow.”

(comments taken from David Cohen)

JUST AS WELL (USA, h6, dark bay or brown)

- jogged 600m, cantered 1/2 lap (dirt course)
(ridden by Barry Wiseman from 7:03 to 7:10)

“I think he’s in great form. It was a good idea to let him have a rest yesterday. He looks terrific.”

(comments taken from Jonathan Sheppard)

“His condition is very good. Tomorrow, I’m going to ride him and do very light work around the stables for about 20 minutes. We want him to be relaxed in a quiet atmosphere, and let him charge up his energy for tomorrow’s race.”

(comments taken from Barry Wiseman)

MARSH SIDE (USA, h6, dark bay or brown)

- jogged 1 lap (dirt course)
(ridden by Marcelino Olguin from7:22 to 7:30)

“He looks like he’s very happy and his condition is good.”

(comments taken from Neil Drysdale)

CONDUIT (IRE, c4. chestnut)

- jogged, cantered 1/2 lap, jogged, walked 1/2 lap (dirt course)
(ridden by Ryan Moore from 6:01 to 6:13)

“Since we breezed him yesterday, and that the race is tomorrow, we didn’t do anything special this morning. I’m pleased with how he is.”

(comments taken from Michael Stoute)

“He felt good this morning—just like yesterday, and I’m happy with him. He’s fully prepared.”

(comments taken from Ryan Moore)

SCINTILLO (GBR, c4. chestnut)

- hand-walked in stable area only

“The horse’s condition is very good. He has a good appetite, he’s healthy and I’m very pleased with him.”

(comments taken from Gerald Mosse)
(comments taken from Stephen Knight)

Japan Cup (G1) : Nov. 29 (Sun) Tokyo 10th race 2,400m turf

Friday, November 27, 2009

November 27 Japan Cupm, Just As Well News

Barry called about 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard time, and in Japan, it was 10:00 a.m. tomorrow! He was finishing up stables and says Justy is doing well.

He reports a Tokyo newspaper ran a picture of him working Justy on the track yesterday and referred to Just as Well as the "Dark Horse." They also mentioned the "mysterious illness" that kept Justy out of training for two years and precipitated his sale from George Strawbridge to Jonathan Sheppard.

The JRA lent Barry a bicycle, and for those of you who know him, you won’t be surprised that he’s putting it to good use. He bicycles everywhere he goes, be it Saratoga, Gulfstream Park, or Presque Isle Downs. Apparently, he’s having fun zooming about, shopping, and picking up groceries while sightseeing around Tokyo. He’s fascinated by all the tiny cars and mopeds and hundreds of other people on bicycles. Probably, he feels right at home.

My only concern is that Jonathan will rent one of those tiny little cars. To understand the concern please read “THE MYSTERY OF THE CROWDED CAR” here:

Following is copy from the JRA given today, the day after Just As Well’s work:
JUST AS WELL (USA, h6, dark bay or brown)
1. - walked around stable area only
"He's eating well and he feels good. He's in good form."
(comments taken from Barry Wiseman)
"I'm pleased with the horse's condition. Our draw (no. 7) is ideal since we were hoping for a middle stall. How he'll race will mostly be up to the jockey, but probably he'll sit somewhere from the middle and back and close in on the stretch. I hope there's a fast pace early in the race. They say that it's going to rain on Sunday, but as long as the going isn't too soft, I don't think it'll bother him. We'll just take him out on the dirt tomorrow and do some light work. He doesn't need any more strong work."
(comments taken from Jonathan Sheppard)

Thursday, November 26, 2009


Below is copy for the JRA's news conference of yesterday morning (Japan time). The last comment, made by Jonathan Sheppard, is interesting considering "Justy" drew the 7 hole, which is two to the inside of the center of the pack! Go Justy!

JUST AS WELL (USA, h6, dark bay or brown)
Owner/Trainer: Jonathan Sheppard
Q: What is the major reason for your participation in the Japan Cup? Since when have you included JC in your rotation?
T: I’d been here before a few years ago with Anticipation and very much liked the experience. I met the representatives from JRA in Saratoga and they mentioned a couple of good fillies that had and I said there were going to run in the Breeder’s Cup and it wouldn’t be very good timing but I mentioned that I had this other horse, Just As Well, that could be an option if he was approved. At that time, he was not one of the primary selections but he was put on an alternate list. Of course, I didn’t find out (that he was selected) until actually after the Breeder’s Cup because two of the horses picked ahead of him were running in the Breeder’s Cup—Einstein and Gio Ponti. I guess they declined and left a spot open for us and I accepted it.
Q: How would you rate his current condition out of 100%?
T: I feel that Just As Well is coming into this race in very good condition. Because he didn’t run in the Breeders’ Cup, he’s fresh. He’s put on a little bit of weight since he’s been here. I watched him work this morning on the turf course and I was very happy with the way he went. He’s had a fairly busy season but as I say, he had a little bit of a break prior coming here and hopefully he’s in 95 percent—as good as he can be. Whether that’s good enough, I don’t know. I know you have some good horses in this country.
Q: What is your impression of the race track at Tokyo? Are there any contenders that you regard as rivals?
T: I like the track very much. I was on the turf course this morning and it seemed to be in a very good condition. It’s a very beautiful track and you people have done a wonderful job renovating the
facilities and the grandstand. Regarding the rivals, I must admit that I’ve just arrived here last night and haven’t had a chance to go through the form of your local horses. But I have a lot of respect for the Japanese horses, having being here before. I’m sure they are going to be very tough. And of course, you have some good horses also coming from abroad—Conduit is a very good horse, I saw him in the Breeders’ Cup Turf— and the two American horses are pretty nice, too. So I think it’s a very competitive race.
Q: What is the strongest point of this horse? What are your expectations for the race?
T: I think the fact that he finishes races strongly. He has good stamina. He doesn’t have very quick acceleration, takes him a little bit of time to build up his top speed. And I like the fact that it’s a longer stretch run here at Tokyo Racecourse than he’s used to in America, because it gives him more time reach his full stride—I think that should suit him.
Q: Do you think he’s on the upgrade as a six-year-old?
T: Yes I do. He’s had a very interrupted career as a younger horse. So I think he ran three or four times as a three-year-old and not again until he was five—so he was much less experienced than most of the horses he was running against. And it took him a few race, not only to himself to figure out how to handle the better company he was running against and also perhaps for me as his trainer trying to figure out what his best distance was and how he should be best ridden. Originally, he was rather anxious in the beginning of his races and we had to teach him to settle and to relax. We gradually built up—as he learned to do that—the distance of his races and now he’s had a couple of back-to-back mile and a half races and that seems to be a good distance for him now.
Q: Where will he be coming from the back of the field off the pace on Sunday?
T: I would expect him to be certainly not more forward, say, than the middle of the field—it’s a big field—opefully, he won’t be way in the very back but he’ll definitely off the pace early on.

Today’s training (on the turf course):
- cantered, gradually cantered strongly appr .2,000m, galloped on stretch (turf course)
(exercised from 8:20 to 8:31, ridden by Barry Wiseman)
“The horse’s condition is good, the latter part of the breeze was especially good.”
(Comments taken from Barry Wiseman)

“It would be nice if his starting gate is in a inner gate from the middle.”
(Comments taken from Jonathan Shepard)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Just As Well Breezes at Fuchu Race Course

Japan, Thanksgiving morning.

It is 8:00 p.m. in Maryland on Thanksgiving eve, but in Japan, it is Thanksgiving morning, and Barry has worked Justy.

"I worked him away from the rail where the turf was smooth," Barry said. "It was like floating on the wings of a big bird. I took it easy. He cooled out really well."

According to Barry, Jonathan arrived the night before and was very pleased with this morning's work.

Now if I can just figure out whether to get up really early or to stay up really late to watch this race . . . . I know TVG will be airing it, so anyone who wants to watch can check their schedule online. This is really something, to have Justy going up against the likes of Conduit. Some of the Japanese entrants are awesome, too.

May they all run safely!

Latest News From Japan Cup Entrant Just As Well

Barry G. Wiseman pictured above out on the track in Tokyo on Just As Well. A JRA photo.

Training Report of Foreign Entrees

November 25, 2009 (Wednesday)


At Tokyo Racecourse

*The following comments are excerpts from quotes given by the connections and transcribed as faithfully to the original text as possible.

JUST AS WELL (USA, h6. dark bay or brown)

- jogged 1/2 lap, lightly cantered ~ gradually stronger 1/2 lap (dirt course), schooled saddling and paddock area
(exercised from 7:27 to 7:35, ridden by Barry Wiseman)

“He's in good condition. It was raining when we went out on the track this morning, but being in the rain is like being in the ocean-he can relax mentally. We will breeze him at around eight o'clock tomorrow morning on the grass. I'm not worried about the long stretch of the Tokyo course. We intend to get the feel of the turf course tomorrow. ”

(comments taken from Barry Wiseman)

Additionally, an email received by Sasscer Hill in the wee hours of Wednesday morning confirms that Barry will breeze Just As Well tonight (US time) which is tomorrow morning in Japan. This time thing is confusing!

Below is the Japanese Racing Association (JRA) profile of some of the "Foreign" participants.

Japan Cup (G1) - Profiles of Conduit, Interpatation, Just as Well, Marsh Side and Scintillo

Conduit (c) JRA
CONDUIT: Hoping to add to a legacy
Has there ever been a horse of Conduit's class in the Japan Cup? The 4-year-old trained by Sir Michael Stoute and sired by 2003 European horse of the year Dalakhani has won the last two Breeders' Cup Turf races, this year's King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes and last year's St. Leger Stakes. So there's a good reason why Big Red Farm shelled out a hefty fee for Conduit to stand in Japan starting next year. The Japan Cup will be the final start of the colt's career and should Conduit win, he will be eligible for the Japan Autumn International bonus of 130 million yen. Bred by Ballymacoll Stud, the turning point of Conduit's career came on Sept. 13, 2008, when he won the St. Leger – Stoute's first victory in the race in 24 tries. The Classic triumph was followed a month later by Conduit's first win in the Breeders' Cup Turf, a win that landed him the Eclipse Award as American Champion Male Turf Horse of the year. In 2009, he won the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes on July 25 as the first choice before finishing fourth in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe and defending his title in the Nov. 7 Breeders' Cup Turf as the overwhelming favorite.

The 64-year-old Stoute is still the only trainer to win multiple Japan Cups, prevailing in 1996 and 1997 with Singspiel and Pilsudski, respectively. This season, Stoute, a nine-time participant in the Japan Cup and a four-time winner of the Epsom Derby, cleaned up in the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes, producing the top three finishers including Conduit. The nine-time champion trainer also won the Coronation Cup as well as the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud in June, and is expected to finish the year as leading trainer once again. Ballymacoll Stud has produced 27 different Grade 1 winners since 1960 under the ownership of Lord Weinstock and his family. A bulk of the farm's horses are trained by Stoute.

Ryan Moore has ridden Conduit in all but two starts – the European Breeders Fund Maiden Stakes at Wolverhampton, which the horse won for his first victory, and the St. Leger which saw Lanfranco Dettori step into the irons. In 2006, Moore became the second youngest champion jockey of all time at the age of 23 with a 182 victories. Moore, who comes from a big racing family (he is the son of trainer Gary L. Moore and brother of jump jockey Jamie and top amateur rider Hayley), also broke through at the Grade 1 level that year, winning the International Stakes under Notnowcato. He has been the chief jockey at Stoute's stable since 2008, when he again became champion jockey. Moore defended his title this season, with wins in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup aboard Presvis in Hong Kong and Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud with Spanish Moon to show for.

Interpatation (c) JRA

INTERPATATION: Still going strong
The 7-year-old gelding showed persistence does pay off as Interpatation won the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic International Stakes for the first Grade 1 victory of his career – in his 50th start. His only other graded win dates back to the Grade 3 Palm Beach Stakes he captured as a 3-year-old, although he has placed once shown twice at the highest level. Interpatation, owned by Elliot Mavorah, went off as the last choice among six in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic International Stakes, but took the field by surprise as he burst on to the lead off the blocks. And Robby Albarado's mount never looked back in the 2,400-meter race held on yielding turf, holding off four-time Grade 1 champion Gio Ponti, runnerup at this year's Breeders' Cup Classic, to win impressively by a length and three-quarters.

Long Island-based trainer Robert Barbara quickly turned his attention toward the Japan Cup, saying after a workout earlier this month that coming to Japan was a “once in a lifetime opportunity.” Taking Interpatation's reins this weekend will be 25-year-old David Cohen, who has the 2005 Malibu Stakes and the 2006 Dubai Golden Shaheen titles with Proud Tower Too to his credit. Cohen relocated to the East coast this season, and led all jockeys in victories at Delaware Park with earnings of more than $3.17 million.

Just as Well (c) JRA
The 6-year-old son by A.P. Indy out of 2000 Del Mar Oaks runnerup No Matter What has had a decent season in 2009, marked by his first Grade 1 victory in the Sept. 20 Northern Dancer Turf Stakes after a charge of interference cost Marsh Side the win at Woodbine. Trained and owned by Jonathan Sheppard, Just as Well, bred by Augustin Stable, took second in the Arlington Million to Gio Ponti after winning the Grade 3 Arlington Handicap, his only outright win in nine starts this year. Up until the Northern Dancer Turf Stakes, the horse had never run at 2,400 meters. But Julien Leparoux, who has won the Santa Anita Handicap and the Woodford Reserve Handicap aboard Einstein, settled his partner well before making a late rush, and the jockey did the same in the Canadian International Stakes, also at 12 furlongs at Woodbine (Just as Well finished fifth). And Leparoux, the French-born current money leader in North America, should find the strategy effective at Tokyo where the final straight runs more than 500 meters.

Sheppard, the Hall of Fame trainer who has found success in both steeplechase and flat racing, returns to Japan after eight years, previously having entered Ninepins in the 2000 Nakayama Grand Jump and With Anticipation in the 2001 Japan Cup. The president of the U.S. National Steeplechase Association is only one of two men who have trained a champion on both flat ground and in the jumps.

Marsh Side (c) JRA
The Neil Drysdale-trained Marsh Side, owned by Robert Evans, is back for the Japan Cup after pulling out a day before the race last year with a fever. The 6-year-old, however, remains winless in starts in 2009, his best result being a second-place finish in the Woodford Reserve Manhattan Handicap in June. Marsh Side crossed the line first in the Northern Dancer Turf Stakes, but was dropped to fourth after the stewards found him guilty of interfering on the home stretch. He had his moment in the Woodford Reserve Manhattan Handicap against red-hot favorite Gio Ponti, but finished a definitive length and a half behind. Drysdale, the Hall of fame trainer well known in Japan for taking Fusaichi Pegasus to the Kentucky Derby winner's circle, returns for a fifth serving of the Japan Cup, his Sarafan taking a narrow second to Falbrav in the 2002 race. Drysdale also entered Becrux in the 2007 Mile Championship, who came in eighth. Javier Castellano, one of the most accomplished jockeys in North American racing, will continue to ride Marsh Side who is keen for his first win since last year's Canadian International Stakes.

Scintillo (c) JRA
The 4-year-old by Fantastic Light has just one victory on turf this year, the Grade 2 Grand Prix de Chantilly in May; his winning time of 2 minutes, 34.6 seconds was more than 12 seconds off the pace of the Japan Cup record. Scintillo hasn't even been close in his last three starts, losing by a combined 90 lengths; he was said to have finished 50 lengths behind Conduit in the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes. Britain's two-time champion trainer Richard Hannon will be throwing Scintillo, whose target is next year's Melbourne Cup, to the wolves on Sunday, but one has to hope the colt owned by Australian Leonard Lucas will find it within himself to bite back against a field as strong as the one on Sunday. Gerald Mosse, a three-time participant of the Japan Cup, is expected to ride in place of Richard Hughes.

Monday, November 23, 2009


Pictured above, Sasscer Hill, Rosco and Gizmo

NOVEMBER 23, 8:00 P.M
Didn’t hear from Barry W. for the first two days after he and Justy were released from quarantine and transferred to Fuchu racecourse in Tokyo. Unlike the quarantine facility, there was no internet connection available for his laptop. He found an internet cafĂ© (shouldn’t that be an internet tea room?) got online, and then purchased a phone card. He called at 7:00 this evening and said Just As Well was doing great, that the Japanese people are extremely observant and polite. Somehow, he helped a Japanese woman with her bicycle and he said, “You would have thought I saved her life. And the life of her children and grandchildren! She kept bowing and thanking me.” I told him, “You will do well over there, because you are soft spoken and extremely polite.” After that nice little compliment, I had to tell him that Rosco removed the “Major Dog” blanket from Gizmo, his little dog that is staying here until after the Japan Cup. Rosco ripped the hell out of that little coat. Either he didn’t think Gizmo should wear a coat, or he was jealous. But Rosco seems to adore Gizmo, and when the two dogs play rough, Gizmo always makes Rosco, who is ten times larger, back down. The only down side is that Rosco has death-breath and since he licks Gizmo all the time, Gizmo smells dreadful. Barry said he’s had Justy out on the Tokyo race track and the horse seems to like it. This race will be very tough! If Just As Well can get a peice of that $5.3 million purse, it would be wonderful! The most important thing is that everyone gets through it without any injuries or trauma. God bless them both, and keep them safe! Sasscer Hill

Training Report of Foreign Entrees
November 23, 2009 (Monday)
*The following comments are excerpts from quotes given by the connections and transcribed as faithfully to the original text as possible.
At Tokyo Racecourse
INTERPATATION (USA, g7, dark bay or brown)
- lightly cantered 1 lap (appr.1,900m) on dirt course
(ridden by Robert Sigouin from 7:30 to 7:42)
“His condition is fine and he’s in good form. We had no problems traveling here from the quarantine center yesterday, and he has a good appetite. The racecourse here is wonderful and looks beautiful. Tomorrow we intend to work him faster than this morning. The trainer, who is coming on Wednesday, will decide when his gallop will be, but it’ll probably be on Thursday or Friday.”
(Comments taken from Robert Sigouin)

JUST AS WELL (USA, h6, dark bay or brown)
- jogged appr.1,700m, cantered lightly ~ gradually stronger appr.2,100m, jogged 200m on dirt course
(ridden by Barry Wiseman from 7:32 to 7:45)
“He is in good condition - he’s eating well and drinking well. He’s an intelligent horse, so he can adjust to new surroundings very quickly. I’m glad his bedding is wood shavings, because he always eats the straw. He loves to sand bathe, so when he’s taken out of his stall for some fresh air, we let him go once in the morning, once after training, and once in the late afternoon.
The Tokyo Racecourse is beautiful - everything is very clean and organized. The dirt on the track had just the right cushion, and the uphill felt very good. We do a lot of training using hills, so the horse seemed happy too. We intend to train our horse like we did this morning - light at first and then gradually faster, let him do what’s comfortable. Tomorrow and the day after that will be more or less the same, maybe a little faster, on the dirt course.”
(Comments taken from Barry Wiseman)

News From “THE AUSTRALIAN” Report
Five foreign horses will compete with 13 locals -- Marsh Side, Interpatation and Just As Well from the US and Conduit and Scintillo from England stables. Conduit is prepared by Sir Michael Stoute who has brought Japan Cup winners Singspiel (1996) and Pilsudski (1997). As the winner in June of the Group I King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes and of the recent Breeders Cup Turf (for a second year) in the US, Conduit is in line for a special bonus.
If Conduit adds the Japan Cup next Sunday, he will collect a winner's cheque of $3,026,000 and a bonus cheque of $1,588,435 for an all-up collect of $4.6m.
Fellow England candidate Scintillo, by Fantastic Light, has a French Group II in June as his best effort for the year but he will need to find plenty to make any mark on his distant ninth in Conduit's King George in July.
The American trio have good credentials but it seems unlikely the stars and stripes will fly for a fifth time over Fuchu. Golden Pheasant was the last US-trained runner to deliver, in 1991.
March Side (by Gone West) tried for last year's Japan Cup but fell ill and was a late scratching.
He has had solid form in smart company in six starts this year, with a fourth in the Group I Canadian International (2400m) at his latest outing.
Interpatation, a seven-year-old gelding by former shuttler Langfuhr, also had handy form before breaking through in the Group I Aqueduct Turf Classic (2400m) in early October. Just As Well, by noted US dirt sire A.P. Indy, has made good progress on turf this year with a last-start fifth in the Canadian International at Woodbine, having won the Group I Northern Dancer Turf Stakes over the same course and distance at his previous start.
Japan regularly saw foreign horses conquer their own in the early years of the Japan Cup but huge advances of the breeding industry have brought a swing towards the local product to a point where honours are now equal with 14 for foreign horses and 14 for locals.
The best form pointer out of Japan in recent weeks was the Group I autumn Emperor's Cup, over 2000m late last month, in which nine possible Japan Cup runners took part.
Rejuvenated galloper Company won decisively but he is not an entry to the Japan Cup.
However the next three to finish, Screen Hero (2nd), Vodka (3rd) and Okan Bruce Lee (4th), are expected to be right there at the finish of the 29th Japan Cup.
Screen Hero will bid to become the first to win the Japan Cup twice while Vodka will make her third attempt to become the first female runner from Japan to win.
Screen Hero, by the former Australian shuttle horse Grass Wonder, was a mild upset winner last year, resisting a rally by 2008 Japan Derby winner Deep Sky to win by a half length, with Vodka third.
Vodka, now five years, created history when beating the males in the 2007 Japan Derby. She made her first attempt at the Japan Cup that year, finishing a creditable fourth.
Vodka, by the Sunday Silence horse Tanino Gimlet, had no luck in the Emperor's Cup last time out -- a race she had won in record time 12 months earlier -- but she powered to the line when her rider finally found her a clear passage in the closing 150m.
Eishin Deputy, also by another former shuttle horse to Australia, French Deputy, found the 2000m of the Emperor's Cup a bit sharp, but he finished well to be ninth.
Eishin Deputy showed his class taking the Group I Takarazuka Kinen (2200m) in mid-2008 and has run only twice since.
Classy three-year-olds have left their mark on past Japan Cups and the principal contender from the classic generation among this year's Japan Cup entries is Logi Universe, by Sunday Silence's classic-winning son Neo Universe from a mare by Cape Cross, sire of this year's European champion Sea The Stars. Logi Universe will attempt the Japan Cup on a first-up preparation, having not run since winning the Japan Derby, over the Japan Cup course and distance, in late May.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

BARRY and JUSTY: News from Japan. 11-22-09

November 22, 2009 (Sunday)

*The following horse, completed his stay at the Shiroi International Quarantine Center, departed the facilities at 10:02 this morning and safely arrived at Tokyo Racecourse at 11:49.

*The following comments are excerpts from quotes given by the connections and transcribed as faithfully to the original text as possible.

At Tokyo Racecourse


JUST AS WELL (USA, h6, dark bay or brown)

“He seemed fine traveling over here. (Tomorrow,) He’s going to gallop and then on Thursday we’re going to breeze him on the grass—probably a mile and 3/8, a mile and a half, something like that, it’s just feeling off…to some degree he dictates the schedule. I think all the horses at the quarantine were becoming a little bit picky about their feed (don’t get me wrong, he’s getting a good ration), but I’m hoping that the travel doesn’t stress him out—though I don’t think so with this horse. He’s a pretty steady guy.”

(Comments taken from Barry Wiseman

Friday, November 20, 2009

THE JAPAN CUP and Just As Well


This year's Japan Cup on Nov. 29 at the state-of-the-art Tokyo Racecourse will see five entries from abroad, three from the United States, two from Britain: Conduit, Scintillo, Interpatation, Just as Well and Marsh Side. Four-time Grade 1 champion Conduit is eligible for the Japan Autumn International bonus, having the opportunity to collect an additional 130 million yen to the 250 million yen the 4-year-old will be awarded should he win the 2,400-meter race.

The first ever Japan Cup was open to North American and Asian horses before Europe and Oceania were added to the list the following year. In 1992, the Japan Cup became the JRA’s first Grade 1 race approved by the International Cataloguing. From 1999 to 2005, it was part of the World Racing Championship, then the game’s preeminent international series.

The Japan Cup has been held at Fuchu every year apart from 2002, when it was held at Nakayama at a distance of 2,200 meters while Tokyo was under renovation. The race record is held by Alkaased (2 minutes, 22.1 seconds), with Dettori having won a record three Japan Cups. Sir Michael Stoute is the only trainer to have lifted two Japan Cups in 1996 and 1997; Stoute trains Conduit.

The 2,400 meters at Tokyo starts on the home stretch, with a run of 400 meters to the first turn bending left for 550 meters, into the back straight. After another 400-meter run, the course curves again for two furlongs before leading back home, a straight of 525 meters which slopes upward for the first 225 meters.

Emails from Barry G. Wiseman indicate that the 10 hour time change is tough, the horse is doing well, and this is one of the most "interesting" experiences Barry has ever had.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Barry Wiseman, leads the six-year-old contender, Just As Well, on November 17 before the stallion's November 28th run in the Japan Cup Turf race.

The Japanese Racing Association reports: Two American horses scheduled to run in the Grade 1 Japan Cup - Interpatation and Just as Well - arrived safely to Japan on Monday, Nov. 16, and both horses were transported to the JRA Horseracing School Quarantine Center to prepare for the 29th running of Japan's largest prize money race.

Both horses arrived at the Horseracing School at 1:53 p.m., completing a 17-hour trip from the United States. They handled the trip well, despite this being their first time crossing the Pacific.

"The horse is relaxed after the trip, in great shape," said Just as Well's assistant trainer Barry Wiseman. "Like Interpatation, we won't go to the tracks tomorrow and will walk him around the stable area. We will gradually speed up his training."

Just as Well, the 6-year-old horse by A.P. Indy, has won twice and finished runnerup three times in his 2009 campaign. Before finishing fifth in the Canadian International Stakes (Grade 1) in October at Woodbine, the Jonathan Sheppard-trained-and-owned horse took the crown in the Northern Dancer Turf Stakes (G1) and came in second in the Grade 1 Arlington Million and Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap. Just as Well is 5-for-20 with five runnerups and three third-place finishes, earning $1,034,912 in the process.

With a total purse of 533.5 million yen, the Japan Cup will be held over 2,400 meters at Tokyo Racecourse on Nov. 29. The race will be the third leg of the "Japan Autumn International," a four-race series with a total value of 1,217,100,000 yen in prize money - not including the bonuses allocated to the qualified horse

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Can't Believe I'm off to the Breeders Cup!

I'm hopping an early flight tomorrow to LAX for the 2009 Breeder's Cup in Arcadia, CA. Since I joined Facebook in March, I have made so many horse racing friends. It appears about 50 of them will be in Arcadia. My FB friend, Paula Weglarz, who I met in Kentucky last spring (see arrives at LAX about one-half-hour before me. Another local Facebook friend is picking us up at the airport and driving us to Arcadia. Who knew social networking was this good!

Some of these gals have made dinner reservations and have party plans. Me, I just want to see the horse races and the two grey wonders who are running in Breeders Cup races, Forever Together and Informed Decision. They are both in the story noted above. I also am very much looking forward to seeing Jonathan Sheppard, his wife, Cathy, and the most excellent assistant trainer, Barry G. Wiseman. For more on them, (see

It will be fun to see George Strawbridge and his lovely companion Julia again, as well. And I will get to meet Breeder’s Cup contender Cloudy’s Knight, too. Right now, I have to go to bed.

Got to catch that early plane. More to come!