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In Japan, fair and impartial national racing is governed by the Japan Racing Association. Local public racing is governed by forty-seven prefectures and municipalities, and is assured by the supervision of the Government (Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries) under the Horse Racing Law of Japan.

Ten national racecourses situated throughout the country are owned by the Japan Racing Association. The tracks host 36 race meetings, or a maximum of 288 race days, annually. Races are usually held on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays. Pari-mutuel betting is sanctioned at 25 of off- track betting facilities. In addition, the JRA is also responsible for horse registrations, the issuing of licenses, and the educating of jockeys.

At the 30 local public racecourses, horse racing is held daily. The National Association of Racing oversees regional public racing, and contributes to the proliferation and improvement of horses and the promotion of other livestock.


April, 3,200 meters - Kyoto Racecourse
October, 2,000 meters - Tokyo Racecourse

The Tenno Sho (Emperor's Cup), is the most historic of all Japanese races. Its origin traces back to 1880 when the Mikado's Vase Race was held at the Negishi Racecourse in Yokohama. From 1905, the race was run under the name of Teishitsu Goshoten Race, and a winner's prize was officially granted from Emperor Meiji. Later, the Teishitsu Goshoten races were held at officially recognized racecourses throughout Japan, including Meguro (Tokyo) and Naruo (Hyogo Prefecture).

In November of 1937 the Tenno Sho was held at the Tokyo Racecourse, and in May of the following year at the Hanshin Racecourse. It was then decided to regularly hold the race twice a year, with each race covering a distance of 3,200 meters. In 1947, the spring Tenno Sho was moved to the Kyoto Racecourse, where it has remained.

After a reorganization of Japanese racing in 1981, it became possible for a horse to participate in the Tenno Sho twice in the same year. In October of 1987, the Fall Tenno Sho was shortened to 2,000 meters to attract 3-year- old horses who had shied away from the 3,200 meter distance.


2,400 meters - Tokyo Racecourse

In 1930 the Japan Derby, or Tokyo Yushun Grand Race, was established. In April of 1932, the Japan Derby, based on the English Epsom Derby, was first run at the Meguro Racecourse in Tokyo. In 1934, the Tokyo Racecourse was constructed in Fuchu City and, since then, the race has become one of Japan's most prestigious sporting events, attracting a multitude of avid followers from around the world.


2,400 meters - Tokyo Racecourse

In 1981, in order to improve the quality of Japanese racehorses and to promote international goodwill within the racing community, the Japan Racing Association established the Japan Cup as an international invitational race. Since its inception, the Japan Cup has grown in international stature, and has produced some of the most memorable races ever held in Japan. Along with the Prix de l'Arc deTriumph and the Breeders' Cup, the Japan Cup ranks as one of the greatest end of season racing events, and always attracts some of the finest horses in the sport.