What is Tennō Shō?
Find out what kind of race is the Emperor’s Prize. Learn which horses can compete in Tennō Shō and how much the prize money is.

The Tennō Shō is one of the horse racing tournaments in Japan that is held twice a year. It is also known as the Emperor’s Prize (天皇賞) since its establishment in 1938. The international Grade 1 race is held every Spring and Autumn.


The Spring Emperor’s Prize is only for four years old and older Thoroughbred horses. Local and international horses can participate in the tournament as long as they fit the qualifications required. The horses here would have to weigh 58 kilograms. Although, there is a weight allowance of two kilograms for fillies and mares. Additionally, there is a one-kilogram allowance for Thoroughbred horses born and bred in the Southern Hemisphere in 2015. The nomination to enter the Spring Tennō Shō is held mid-March and the final horses competing in the race is announced a few days before the race starts. The Spring race is often held in late April.


On the other hand, the Autumn Emperor’s Prize is a flat race for three-year-old and up Thoroughbred horses. The three-year-old horses are required to weigh 56 kilograms while four year old and up horses need to weigh 58 kilograms. There is also a weight allowance of two kilograms for fillies, mares, and horses that are born and bred in the Southern Hemisphere in 2016. The Autumn race is often held late October while nomination for the horses to compete starts in early September. The final horses competing in the race is usually announced a few days before the race starts. Both competitions do not specify the maximum limit of international horses that can compete in the race. However, the Spring and Autumn races have the same number of starters which is 18 horses.


Purse of the Tennō Shō


The purse for the Spring and Autumn Emperor’s Prize is the same, despite the difference in distance that horses run in both tournaments. The total prize money for each competition is ¥325,000,000 or approximately $1,304,000.

The total amount the winner of each race will receive is ¥150,000,000 or approximately $1,304,000.


The Race Track of Tennō Shō


The Spring Tennō Shō is annually held at Kyoto Racecourse. It is a right-handed track which means that the horses will be making right turns instead of the commonly seen left-handed tracks around Japan. The horses here run across a turf surface with a distance of 3,200 meters or about 16 furlongs in length.

On the other hand, the Autumn Tennō Shō is often held annually at Tokyo Racecourse. It is a left-handed track which can be seen in most racecourses around Asia and Europe, including Japan. The Thoroughbred horses run a distance of 2,000 meters or about 10 furlongs in length on a turf surface.


Most Notable Horses in Tennō Shō


Both flat horse races in Japan are considered to be one of the most prestigious domestic and international competitions. This means that there have been various notable horses that showed their skills, speed, and agility in the race track.


Some of the most notable ones are Meijiro McQueen, Tosen Jordan, and Kitasan Black.

Meijiro McQueen → Meijiro McQueen was one of the few horses that won the Spring Tennō Shō twice in 1991 and 1992. He finished the racecourse in 3 minutes, 18 seconds, and 8 milliseconds in his first win. On his second year of winning first place, he finished the track within three minutes and twenty seconds.

Tosen Jordan → Tosen Jordan was a five-year-old Thoroughbred when he first won the Autumn Tennō Shō. He made a name for himself when he finished the race within one minute, fifty-six seconds, and one millisecond.

Kitasan Black → Kitasan Black was a local Thoroughbred that won in both Spring and Autumn Tennō Shō. Kitasan won in the 2016 and 2017 Spring Emperor’s Prize. Then in 2017, he also won the Autumn Emperor’s Prize race.


Where to Wager?


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