2022 Japan Cup Odds, Field & Betting Pick

The 2022 Japan Cup is finally here. On Sunday, eighteen horses will line up for this treasured Japanese gem, and even though local colt Vela Azul is the favorite, several European guests also have strong claims, too. While the Japan Cup is held in Tokyo, the Hanshin Racecourse offers the G3 Keihan Han for sprinters. On Saturday, two-year-olds will meet in the G3 Kyoto Nisai Stakes.

Kyoto Nisai Stakes

This G3 race is open to two-year-old colts who will clash over the distance of a mile and a quarter. Vying for the purse of 62,600,000 Yen, fifteen of them will hit the turf surface, with Top Knife being the most experienced of the bunch.

The son of Declaration of War broke his maiden at the third attempt, then finished fourth at the Stakes level; however, he’s the only contestant to achieve a Listed success. Mitsugu Kon trained colt triumphed in the Hagi Stakes last time out, and even though there could easily be classier runners in Saturday’s field, Top Knife needs to be respected for the October solid effort. Cosmo Sagarmartha has three outings under his belt as after bagging a maiden on the second try, he delivered in the Shigiku Sho over a mile and a furlong.

Under Ryan Moore, he catches the eye for the Kyoto Nisai Stakes; however, we need to look also at the less experienced runners, especially Stahl Wind. The Lord Kanaloa colt succeeded in his second outing when winning a Maiden race over a mile and a furlong; moreover, he kept drawing clear from his rivals in the closing stages, suggesting he still had plenty in the tank. 

Regarding two-year-old horses, it is always difficult to discern which runners will improve the most on their debuts, but this time, it could be Smaragdos and Grande Venus. Both broke their maidens easily and in Newcomer races that usually boast runners of higher quality than Maidens.  

Kyoto Nisai Stakes Odds & Betting Prediction

I’ll ShineY.Fukunaga+2940
Ezo DaimonY.Take+1930
Grande VenusY.Kawada+110
Gruner GreenM.Demuro+1360
Cosmo SagarmathaR.Moore+820
Psy BreakerT.Danno+12000
Stahl WindR.Sakai+2510
Top KnifeN.Yokoyama+950
Night CastleC.Demuro+420
Bikini BoyS.Hamanaka+36300
Lord PrayerM.Iwata+1010

Stahl Wind, whose last performance was very promising and should build on it.

The Keihan Hai

This G3 event offers a purse of 77,300,000 Yen while being open to three-year-old and older horses. They will cover the distance of six furlongs on the turf surface, and because the field of sixteen participants is extremely varied, it’s hard to pick just five horses with the biggest chance as, honestly, most of them could strike gold here.

Probably only six-year-old First Force slightly stands out here as he finished second in the G2 Centaur Stakes in September, and even though he failed to repeat such an effort in the G1 Sprinters Stakes, he finished third in the Keihan Hai 2021, and thus boasts the best credentials for the win. In the Centaur Stakes, Sunrise Honest took third place, upon which the five-year-year-old horse finished second in a Listed, hinting his form still holds.

Back then, he was defeated by three-year-old Toshin Macau, who looks like a fine G3 colt in the making, which he should affirm on Sunday by placing in the Keihan Hai.

Although we could name several other runners whose resume makes them interesting for this race, we stick with Eighteen Girl and Kir Lord. The former doesn’t look particularly in form currently but finishing sixth in the G1 Sprinters Stakes shouldn’t be waved off entirely; moreover, we mention her mostly because she scored the last year’s Keihan Hai. Seven-year-old Kir Lord is yet to win a Graded event, but in March, he placed third in the G1 Takamatsunomiya Kinen.

Keihan Hai Odds & Betting Prediction

Eighteen GirlS.Akiyama+900
Kir LordY.Fukunaga+370
Sunrise HonestN.Yokoyama+600
Jubilee HeadK.Yokoyama+1060
Smart CourageM.Iwata+1640
Taisei VisionK.Miura+1290
Daimei FujiA.Nishimurascratched
T M SpadaS.Imamura+680
Toshin MacauK.Sameshima+310
Bien FaitY.Fujioka+3370
First ForceT.Danno+1290
Purpur RayY.Iwata+6840
Maria’s HeartH.Yoshida+2220
Right on CueY.Furukawa+2220
VatreniR. Wadascratched

First Force, as his past results suggest he should be able to strike this.

Japan Cup

One of the most prestigious races in Japan boasts a purse of 760,000,000 Yen that attracted a field of eighteen three-year-old and older horses, including an interesting bunch of European runners. On the turf surface, the participants will cover a mile and a half in this G1 event, with Vela Azul looking like the leading victory candidate.

The four-year-old son of Deep Impact scored the last year’s Japanese Derby and finished third in the Japan Cup 2021, and upon his return to the tracks after a pause, he triumphed in the G1 Dubai Sheema Classic in Meydan. His June performance at the Royal Ascot meeting wasn’t bad at all, as he took fourth place in the G1 Prince of Wales’s Stakes. Subsequently, in October, he traveled back to Japan to stretch his legs in the G1 Tenno Sho (Autumn).

Back then, he grabbed only fifth place as more was expected of the classy four-year-old; however, he’s a true stayer, so Sunday’s distance will suit him better. Given his ability, he should at least fight for the victory as this year’s Japan Cup field isn’t as starstruck as in the past editions. 

Regarding the locals, Shahryar’s most serious rivals should be three-year-old Danon Beluga, who is yet to win a G1 race; however, he delivered a solid effort both in the Japanese 2000 Guineas and Japanese Derby, where he finished fourth. Last time out, he placed third in the mentioned Tenno Sho (Autumn), but unlike Shahryar, he should be more suited by the distance of a mile and a quarter.

Five-year-old Vela Azul is another Japanese horse with strong claims as in 2022; he climbed from Stakes races up to the G2 victory in the Kyoto Daishoten, where he dominated easily and could be good enough to pose a threat to either Shahyar or Danon Beluga.

This year’s Japan Cup also lured in some attractive European runners, including some Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe contestants, as Grand Glory finished fifth and Onesto came home in tenth. The former took sixth place in Japan Cup 2021, and the latter’s chances are boosted by Christophe Lemaire aboard. The last to mention is Tunnes, a three-year-old chestnut trained in Germany by Peter Schiergen, who scored the G1 Grosser Preis von Munich at the beginning of November.

The half-brother to the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe 2021 winner Torquator Tasso destroyed the competition by ten lengths, but it happened on very soft ground, which he probably won’t get on Sunday.

2022 Japan Cup Odds & Betting Pick

Simca MilleG.Benoist+7110
Trust KenshinK.Marutascratched
Grand GloryM.Guyon+1710
Vela AzulR.Moore+190
Daring TactT.Marquand+1510
Unicorn LionY.Kokubunscratched
Heart’s HistoireY.Take+14300
Shadow DivaK.Matsuyamascratched
T O RoyalY.Hishida+2790
Danon BelugaY.Kawada+280
Ridge ManY.Ishikawascratched
UberlebenM. Demuroscratched

Shahryar, Although his last outing was lackluster, he should benefit from the longer distance this time. 

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