Since some thought she hadn't done it right the first time, Buena Vista did it once again. And this time it was for keeps.
On Sunday, Nov. 27 at Tokyo Racecourse, second pick Buena Vista fought a close battle in the stretch with sixth choice Tosen Jordan, then pulled ahead 100 meters out to top the 16-strong field of the Japan Cup by a neck and lay rightful claim to her sixth G1 victory. Longshot Jaguar Mail crossed the wire in third, with Trailblazer and Win Variation following to make it a Japanese sweep of the top five spots in the international invitational's 31st running.
As Buena Vista pulled away in the final strides, the roar from the stands rose to a deafening level, as if the fans wished to push her over the finish line with the volume. And later, as jockey Yasunari Iwata, bent over in the saddle and overwhelmed with emotion, returned before the crowd, the feeling throughout the packed stands was as one. The words on everyone's lips the same. "It's so, so good she won!"
The tears shed by Iwata and the sob that was to burst from the lips of trainer Hiroyoshi Matsuda both came from the same place. One of relief born of frustration. This was a champion that deserved to win, that had won many a time before and could surely win again. But after her first time out of the money in Japan in her last time out, some of the less faithful had begun to doubt. After victory in last year's Japan Cup was snatched from her in a demotion, Buena Vista had failed to win. She had come close, heartbreakingly close, but had not seen the winner's circle in her five starts from the ill-fated Japan Cup. Matsuda, who said he had nonetheless never lost faith in his mare, had declared them "jinxed." For the first time in Japan, Buena Vista went to the gate less than the favorite.