The Kikuka Shō is the third and final leg of the Japanese Triple Crown series, which is the equivalent of the English St. Leger Stakes that concludes the English Triple Crown. The race is held annually at Kyoto Racecourse in Fushimi-ku, Kyoto, and it takes place in October.
Like the original English Triple Crown series, the Kikuka Shō and its preceding races, the Satsuki Shō and the Tokyo Yūshun, are restricted to three-year-old thoroughbred colts and fillies. It is run over a distance of about 15 furlongs on a right-handed, turf track. A weight requirement of 57 kg (9-0 stones) applies to male thoroughbreds, and females must carry 55 kg.
location: Kyoto Racecourse
grade: Grade 1
race type: Flat race
This race was introduced in 1938 and became a part of the Japanese Triple Crown when the series was inaugurated in the early 1940s. Until 2010, the fixtures that made up the Japanese Triple Crown were open only to Japanese bred and trained thoroughbreds. Since 2010, the JRA (Japanese Racing Association) has allowed the entry of international contenders, making the Japanese Triple Crown a truly international sporting event. The latest Kikuka Shō awarded a purse of ¥248,400,000 or about £1.6 million (as of 2017).
Into its eighth decade, this prestigious event has been open to worldwide talent since 2010 and has experienced lots of success as the equivalent of the English St Leger Stakes. Below are some of the current records (as of 2017).
2014's Toho Jackal set a new record for fastest race and course time by winning in 3 minutes and 1 second.
10 horses have managed to win both the Tokyo Yūshun and Kikuka Shō in the same season, including St Lite, Kurifuji, Shinzan, Take Hope, Mr. C.B, Symboli Rudolf, Narita Brian, Deep Impact, and Orfevre.
15 have won the Kiduka Sho and Satsuki Shō including St. Lite, Tosa Midori, Dainana Hoshu, Shinzan, Kitano Kachidoki, Mr. C.B, Symboli Rudolf, Miho Sinzan, Sakura Star O, Narita Brian, Seiun Sky, Air Shakur, Deep Impact, Orfevre, and Gold Ship.
As the finale of the Japanese Triple Crown, this event is the scene of some of the most prestigious moments in the history of Japanese horse racing (as of 2017).
Only seven have completed the Japanese Triple Crown. They include St. Lite (1941), Shinzan (1964), Mr. C.B. (1983), Symboli Rudolph (1984), Narita Brian (1994), Deep Impact (2005), and Orfevre (2011). Each year this feat is repeated marks a dramatic moment in the history of the Kikuka Shō.
The most recent Japanese Triple Crown winner was Orfevre in 2011. He won all three races by a decisive margin - ahead by three lengths in the Japanese 2000 Guineas, ahead by one and three-quarters of a length in the Japanese Derby and by two and a half lengths in the Japanese St. Leger.