7 Biggest horse races in Japan

Are you interested in Japanese horse racing? Here we have all the information you need to know about it. Even if it doesn’t seem like it, horse racing is somewhat popular in Japan.

Horse racing has been quite popular in Europe since several centuries ago, and little time passed until it started being a thing in other territories. However, the sport arrived a bit “late” in Japan. Despite that, the horse racing scene in Japan has really grown in popularity.

So, if you’re interested in learning more about Japan’s horse racing scene or perhaps would like to get to know more about Japanese horse racing betting, you’ve come to the right place. This post will guide you through some of the biggest horse races in Japan:

Japan Cup

The Japan Cup is the main horse racing event in Japan. It happens every year in November and is one of the most “recent” horse racing events in the world, as the first edition was celebrated in 1981. Since then, it has gained worldwide recognition as one of the most prestigious horse racing events in the world.

At first, the Japan Cup was only open to participants from major countries, such as the following:

USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand

However, since then, it now welcomes competitors from all around the world. This horse racing takes place every year at the Tokyo Racecourse, located in Fuchu, Tokyo. The prize is 476 million yen, which equals to almost $6 million USD.

Japanese Derby

The “Tokyo Yushun,” internationally known as the “Japanese Derby,” is another Grade-1 flat race. It takes place at the Tokyo Racecourse, too. Typically, it admits three-year-old thoroughbreds. It is usually scheduled for the last days of May or perhaps during the first days of June.

Despite being a smaller event, the Japanese Derby has more history than the Japan Cup. The first race was celebrated in 1932 as a national event. This event is a member of the “Japanese Triple Crown.”

Tenno Sho

The next most important race and the last member of the triple crown are the Tenno Sho, which also happens to be one of the longest races in the Japanese horse racing scene, with a distance of more than 3,200 meters.

Typically, this event takes place at the Kyoto Racecourse twice per year. The first edition happens in Spring, around the last days of April or during the first days of May. The second edition happens in autumn and is typically scheduled for late October, one month before the Japan Cup takes place.

Yasuda Kinen

Next up, we have the Yasuda Kinen. The first edition of the race was held in 1951, and it was first known as the “Yasuda Sho.” This career is named after Izaemon Yasuda, who was the chairman of the JRA at the time. After the man passed away, it gained the current name.

It is a relatively short career compared to other events. It has a total distance of 1,600 meters. It also takes place at the Tokyo Racecourse in June. It is currently an International Grade 1 race.

NHK Mile Cup

Next up, we have the NHK Mile Cup. Like the Yasuda Kinen, it has a total length of 1,600 meters. It is perhaps the most broadcasted horse racing event in Japan. In Japan, sponsors are considered those who provide the “prize” or “trophy.”

Until 2001, the NHK Mile Cup was the only horse race event in Japan that allowed horses non-bred in Japan. It is still quite popular due to this fact, even after the restrictions have been lifted in Japan.

February Stakes

The February Stakes, as the name suggests, takes place every year during February. It is a Grade 1 flat horse race. It only admits four-year-olds (and older) thoroughbreds. It has a total distance of 1,600 meters, and similar to other careers, it takes place at the Tokyo Racecourse.

Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks)

The Yushin Himba is another Grade 1 flat horse race. The participants are three-year-old thoroughbred fillies. Again, it takes place at the Tokyo Racecourse in May. However, unlike other careers, it has a total distance of 2,400 meters.

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