This time, there was no questioning Buena Vista’s victory in the Japan Cup.
A year after suffering the humiliation of being demoted from first to second in Japan’s richest race, Buena Vista on Sunday won the Japan Cup fair and square, holding off Tenno-sho champion Tosen Jordan to capture her sixth Grade 1 title.
In a stellar field of 16 including Dubai World Cup champion Victoire Pisa and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner Danedream, the 5-year-old Buena Vista became only the fifth female horse ever to pick up the winner’s check of ¥250 million in Japan’s international showpiece.
Before an electric crowd of 103,816 at Tokyo Racecourse, Victoire Pisa finished 13th, while Danedream, who went off as the narrow first choice over Buena Vista, came in sixth.
Buena Vista’s trainer Hiroyoshi Matsuda was in tears after scoring an emotional win that brought back painful memories of last season, when the horse was controversially demoted under French rider Christophe Soumillon.
It was the mare’s first title since winning the autumn Emperor’s Cup last year.
“I felt so sorry for Soumillon last year,” said Matsuda, who lifted his second Japan Cup as did jockey Yasunari Iwata. “I couldn’t let him enjoy what should have been his win.
“So I couldn’t be happier we won today, partly for him.”
Buena Vista, who is now second on the all-time list with six Grade 1 wins, will run her last race on Japanese soil in the season-ending Arima Kinen in December. She could race overseas next spring before calling it a career.
“We’ve got one more race left in Japan, but I want to send her out in the best shape of her career,” Matsuda said.
The Craig Williams-ridden Tosen Jordan, who won last month’s Tenno-sho in record time, crossed the line a neck behind Buena Vista after setting a slow pace with American entry Mission Approved in the 2 minute, 24.2 second contest over 2,400 meters.
Williams could only tip his hat to Buena Vista, who came up the final straight slithering on the inside to overtake Tosen Jordan.
“I think if you talk to any foreign jockey and ask which horse in Japan would you like to ride, I’ve always said that she’s the best 10-furlong I’ve fought around the world,” said Williams, who rode his first Japan Cup. “And today she proved it.
“There was nothing wrong with my horse. He just got beaten by a horse was a fraction better than him.”
Three-year-old filly Danedream, who won the Arc by five lengths on Oct. 2 and rewrote the race record in the process, was not helped by an outside draw, leaving from the No. 13 post.