June 29, 2022

Field of 17 draws into Kyoto’s Queen Elizabeth II Cup

Mozu Katchan (#5), with jockey Mirco Demuro aboard, wins the Queen Elizabeth II Cup (Jpn-G1) at Kyoto Racecourse, Japan, last November 12, 2017 (c) Tomoya Moriuchi/Horsephotos.com

by Dick Powell

The Queen Elizabeth II Cup (Jpn-G1) will be run late Saturday night/early Sunday morning at the right-handed Kyoto Racecourse at about 11 furlongs (2,200 meters). It is for fillies and mares, three-years old and up, with the sophomores carrying 119 pounds and the older runners toting 124 pounds.

This year’s renewal drew 17 runners including last year’s winner, Mozu Katchan. What it didn’t draw was this year’s Japanese filly Triple Crown champion, Almond Eye, who is going on to the Japan Cup (Jpn-G1) and, Deidre, who will contest the Hong Kong Cup (HK-G1). So, it could be wide open with many having a chance who might not ordinarily have.

MOZU KATCHAN (#7) won this race on firm ground last year but then came back a few months later with a fourth in the Kyoto Kinen (Jpn-G2) on soft ground. She was good enough to get an invite to the Dubai Sheema Classic (UAE-G1) at Meydan in March and finished sixth in that contest behind a strong field. Off until August of this year, Mozu Katchan came back on firm going ground with a close third going 1 1/4 miles in the Sapporo Kinen (Jpn-G2). Last year, her prep for this was a third-placing in the Shuka Sho (Jpn-G1) four weeks before so I think she is very vulnerable.

LYS GRACIEUX (#12) has finished second in four Group 1 tries and this could her break through. She was eighth in the Yasuda Kinen (Jpn-G1) going a mile two starts back, then was a close second last out in a listed stakes on October 13 at Tokyo. The daughter of Heart’s Cry has to overcome post 12 but picks up Joao Moreira.

I am a sucker for horses sired by Deep Impact and CANTABILE (#8) fits the bill. She only has seven career starts and still has a strong upside. Seven of the last 10 winners of the QEII Cup won their first Group 1 in this spot and this could be Cantabile’s turn. She captured the Kansai Telecasting Corp. Sho Rose (Jpn-G2) going nine furlongs two starts back and came back to make a strong rally for third, behind Almond Eye, last out in the Shuka Sho going 10 furlongs on this course.

A solid contender is FRONTIER QUEEN (#2). She comes in here off three seconds in Group 3s and a third in the Ireland Trophy Fuchu Himba (Jpn-G2). The bay lass has nine second places from 22 lifetime starts, usually at shorter distances, but she could get the jump on the deep closers turning for home.

If you want a longshot, how about PRIMERA AZUL (#4)? She draws post 4 and has a ton of early speed. The long distance should give her an ability to get a breather and there is not a lot of pace in here. The dark bay six-year-old has a win over the course, and I like how she had two races in the month of October. Primera Azul should be the one to catch when they turn for home into the short stretch.

My top pick will by Cantabile (#8). Her form stands up to anyone in here and the improving daughter of Deep Impact is bred on the same cross with Deep Impact being bred to mares by Galileo. With only seven starts, I think she improves enough to beat these.