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Monday, November 27
T.M. Opera O captures Japan Cup




(TOKYO) -- Japan's T. M. Opera O stayed undefeated in 2000 as the 4-year-old Japan bred colt by Opera House became the first favorite to win the Japan Cup in 13 years. American runners John's Call was ninth in the field of sixteen with Timboroa 11th. The Japan Cup with a record purse of 476-million yen ( over 4.5 million U.S.) is the richest turf race in the world.

T. M. Opera O
T. M. Opera O remains undefeated in 2000 after winning the $4.5 million Japan Cup, part of the Emirates World Series Racing Championship.
The 20th running of Japan's International Invitational was run on Sunday, November 26th before a crowd limited to 150,000 because of construction at the Tokyo Racecourse. The betting handle was again expected to be near last year's mark of $290-million (U.S.) on just the Japan Cup race itself.

T.M. Opera O came into the Japan Cup with a perfect six-for-six record in Japan this year and was made the strong 2/5 race favorite. His six race win streak included three Group II and three Group I victories including both the spring and autumn Emperor (Tenno Sho) Cups. He now joins last year Japan Cup winner, Special Week as the only thoroughbred to win both Emperor Cups and the Japan Cup in the same year. His winning time for the 2400 meters ( 1 _ miles) was 2:26.1.

Under the ride of 23-year-old jockey Ryuji Wada, T.M. Opera O battled his Japanese rival Meisho Doto on his inside and Godolphin’s Fantastic Light on his outside down the long Tokyo Racecourse stretch to get the decision by a neck. In the photo for second Meisho Doto edged Fantastic Light by a nose.

The complete order of finish for the 2000 Japan Cup -- 1- T.M. Opera O; 2. Meisho Doto; 3. Fantastic Light; 4. Ela Athena; 5. Daiwa Texas; 6-Matikane Kinno Hoshi; 7- Reve D'Oscar; 8. Stay Gold; 9. John’s Call (USA); 10. Golden Snake; 11- Timboroa; 12- Fruits of Love; 13- Agnes Flight; 14. Air Shakur; 15. Eagle Café; 16. Silk Prima Donna.

The Japan Cup was the tenth leg in the 11-race Emirates World Series Racing Championship that ends at the Hong Kong Cup on December 17th. Irish Champion Stakes winner and Breeders' Cup Classic runner-up, Giant's Causeway is on top with 18 points followed by nine others with 12 points each. Fantastic Light is one of those with 12 points after earning four points for his third place Japan Cup finish. The series champion receives a one million dollar (U.S.) bonus.

On Saturday the Tokyo Racecourse featured the first running of the Japan Cup Dirt. A Group I 2,100 meter (about a mile-and-a-third) on the main track for thoroughbreds 3 & up. The race was won by Japan's Wing Arrow in a new track record time of 2:07.2 under veteran, 52-year-old jockey Yukio Okabe.

America's two entries -- Lord Sterling, owned by Californian Ronald Anson, ran a strong third under jockey Jose Valdivia while the Frank Stronach owned Euchre, trained by Bobby Frankel and ridden by David Flores, finished eighth after being made the second betting choice.

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