Who is Espoir City? If you follow Japanese racing at all, you know he is their reigning champion on dirt. The five-year-old son of Gold Allure by Sunday Silence, out of Eminent City, by Brian’s Time, might be best known in American circles as the easy winner of last year’s Japan Cup Dirt, a race that was to be entered by Summer Bird before being injured while training in Japan. Trained by Akio Adachi for owner Yushun Horse, Espoir City returned in February to win the Grade 1 and aptly named February Stakes, the first grade 1 of the year in Japan, in similarly convincing style. He has now won nine of his eleven starts on the dirt, and most impressively is riding a six race win streak, all coming in graded stakes in Japan.
Why is he coming to America? For the Breeders’ Cup Classic of course. Adding to the intrigue of the November 6 race at Churchill Downs that may be coming up absolutely huge. If he is to find success in the Classic, he would become the first Japanese trained horse ever to win a Breeders’ Cup race. The prospect of facing American horses like Zenyatta, Rachel Alexandra, Quality Road, Blame, Rail Trip, and Lookin at Lucky seems quite daunting, but his connections feel he is better than ever, and plan on spending the $200,000 supplemental fee to enter. Do not take him too lightly America, Espoir City may be the best horse that Japan has ever sent.
Espoir City is currently enjoying some time off before an expected return in the Grade 1 Nanbu Hai in October. A race that Espoir City won impressively last Fall. Here is a look at his stroll to victory in the Japan Cup Dirt…
Photo Courtesy of Kate Hunter