Equinox Wins Japan Cup:Racing Fans Saw Something Special

Equinox is still the one – as in the World’s Best Racehorse.

The sensational 4-year-old colt delivered another powerful performance Sunday in the $7.25 million Japan Cup (G1), easily defeating a star-studded lineup for his sixth consecutive Grade 1 victory.

Although Equinox’s four-length win over the filly Liberty Island and 16 other rivals looked more like a 1 ½-mile breeze at Tokyo Racecourse, trainer Tetsuya Kimura was a nervous wreck.

“With Equinox extending his G1 winning streak for over a year, the pressure was so great before the Japan Cup that I felt relieved when he won the race,’’ Kimura told the Japan Racing Association.

Jockey Christophe Lemaire, who has been aboard Equinox for all his races, said he “felt happy and relieved.

“Many emotions came to my mind because it was an unbelievable race. Horseracing fans and lovers were able to see something very special.

Lemaire’s Insights: Equinox’s Remarkable Traits and Unbeatable Performance

Something special indeed. With his eighth victory in 10 starts (he finished second twice), Equinox boosted his career earnings to more than 2 billion yen ($14.82 million US). His sire, Kitasan Black, won the 2016 Japan Cup, considered one of the world’s most prestigious year-end races. Lemaire, meanwhile, won his fourth Japan Cup (Vodka, 2009; Almond Eye, 2018, 2020).

As expected, when the field of 18 broke from the gate, Panthalassa – the 2023 Saudi Cup (G1) winner — rushed to the front and built a huge lead, about 12-15 lengths at several points. Three-time G1 winner Titleholder was a distance second, followed by Equinox. By the final corner before hitting the straight for home, Panthalassa was losing his lead as Equinox unleashed his patented finishing kick. Closing in with every stride in the final 500 meters (about 550 yards), Equinox took the lead with about 200 meters (about 220 yards) to go and extended his advantage to the final four-length margin.

“Equinox was able to come into the race in good condition. He was aggressive from the start and was relaxed during the race despite the fast pace of the front-runner,’’ Kimura said. “He is a very well-balanced horse — the shape of his hooves, bone structure, and firm muscle — everything is perfectly balanced. It’s a miraculous combination. So, we try to maintain this balance when we train him.”

Liberty Island, a 3-year-old filly, came into the race as the Triple Tiara winner in Japan. Stars on Earth, the 2022 Best 3-year-old filly, was third followed by Do Deuce. France bred Iresine, the only horse from outside Japan, and finished ninth.

Lemaire added: “He’s truly a super horse, smart powerful, and gentle, like a pony. I think anyone could ride him.”


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