Top Horse Races in Japan to Bet On

The Japanese horse racing scene has grown at an exponential rate in recent years, leading more and more people to search for the best horse races to bet on in Japan.

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Punters have bet on horse racing in Europe for centuries, but horse racing betting is a relatively new thing in Japan. Still, there is no shortage of Japanese horse races to bet on. Keep reading to learn about the top horse races in Japan to bet on.

Japan Cup

Few would argue that the Japan Cup is not the biggest race on the Japanese horse racing calendar. Held on the last Sunday of November at the Tokyo Racecourse, the Japan Cup always dishes up thrilling action for both fans and bettors.

Although the Japan Cup is a relatively new race, it has become one of the biggest horse racing events in the world since its inauguration in 1981. Accordingly, it is now among the top horse races to bet on in Japan.

Japanese Derby

The Japanese Derby may be smaller than the Japan Cup in terms of popularity, but it was first celebrated as a national event back in 1932, making it one of the oldest and most prestigious horse races in the country.

Known locally as the “Tokyo Yushun”, the Japanese Derby is Japan’s equivalent of the UK’s Epsom Derby. Along with the Japan Cup, it is one of the Japanese Triple Crown events, highlighting its significance on the calendar.

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Tenno Sho

The third and final Triple Crown events are the Tenno Sho races. These races take place twice a year at the Kyoto Racecourse, with the first typically occurring in late April/early May and the second scheduled for late October.

As one of the longest races in Japanese horse racing, the Tenno Sho invariably serves up lots of drama. With more than 3,200 meters to cover, horses and jockeys provide bettors with plenty of excitement throughout the race.

Yushin Himba

Also known as the Japanese Oaks, the Yushin Himba is a Grade 1 flat race for three-year-old thoroughbred fillies. The first Yushin Himba took place back in 1938, making it one of the most historic horse races in Japan.

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February Stakes

You probably won’t be surprised to learn that the February Stakes takes place every year during February. Held at the Tokyo Racecourse, the February Stakes is a flat dirt race that only accepts thoroughbreds aged four and above.

NHK Mile Cup

Before 2001, the NHK Mile Cup was the only Grade 1 race for colts and fillies that accepted non- Japanese bred three-year-olds. However, those restrictions have now been lifted, allowing any horse to compete in the 1,600-meter flat event.

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Yasuda Kinen

Like the NHK Mile Cup, the Yasuda Kinen is a 1,600-meter Grade 1 flat race. The first edition of the Yasuda Kinen took place back in 1951, and it has since become one of the best horse races to bet on in Japan.