The Japanese Triple Crown series has been one of the most beloved and anticipated events on the Japanese thoroughbred racing calendar since its inauguration in the early 1940s. The three races of the series are open to three-year-old fillies and colts, although Japan also hosts its own version of a separate Fillies' Triple Crown. The series' races are designed to test the equine contender in all levels of expertise; they are now also known as the 'Test of Speed', the 'Test of Luck' and the 'Test of Strength' chronologically.
There have been six winners in the history of the Japanese Triple Crown: Sir Lite in 1941, Shinzan in 1964, Mr. C. B. in 1983, Symboli Rudolf in 1984, Narita Brian in 1994 and most recently Deep Impact in 2005.
The Satsuki Shō - the 'Test of Speed' - is the first of the Japanese Triple Crown series. It was inaugurated in 1939 and has since been run at the Nakayama Racecourse in Funabashi in the prefecture of Chiba. The race runs over a distance of ca. 1 ¼ miles and kicks off the Triple Crown season in April. The maximum number of starters is limited to 18 contenders, who battle it out to win not only the very worthy purse of ¥235,320,000 but also the chance of becoming the new Japanese Triple Crown champion.
The Tokyo Yūshun - the 'Test of Luck' - is perhaps the most technically difficult race of the series. It is hosted at Tokyo Racecourse in the Fuchū district of Tokyo. This race is held in late May or early June and spans a distance of 1 mile and 4 furlongs. The Tokyo Yūshun is perhaps the most esteemed of the three races in the series, also referred to as 'The Festival of Racing' by the Japanese racing aficionados. It has been a popular race since it was introduced in 1932 and the prize money has risen in proportion to the races reputation, now weighing in at a hefty ¥343,300,000.
The Kikuka Shō - the 'Test of Strength' - finishes the Japanese Triple Crown series, which automatically crowns it one of the most exciting races of any given year. It runs over almost 2 miles, which makes it the longest and the most strenuous race of the series. It has been staged at the Kyoto Racecourse in the Kyoto district Fushimi-ku in the Kyoto prefecture since it was inaugurated in 1938, apart from a two year break during World War II. The race is prized at ¥269,750,000 and awards a chance to enter the history books as a Japanese Triple Crown Champion.