The Godolphin-owned four-year-old travelled well on the outside in the early stages of the Grade One event at Tokyo racecourse, but jockey Kevin Manning pulled him up before the field turned for home.
It later transpired Trading Leather, who enjoyed his finest hour when winning last year’s Irish Derby, had died after suffering a serious injury.
Bolger said: “Trading Leather was much adored and had a tremendous career, the highlight being his Irish Derby win. His passing is tough for us all, especially my staff. This is a very sad loss.”
Epiphaneia emerged victorious in the 12-furlong heat, foiling Gentildonna’s bid for a third successive triumph.
Sei Ishizaka’s defending champion was partnered by Ryan Moore but had no answer as the Christophe Soumillon-ridden Epiphaneia ran out a four-length winner.
Epiphaneia could be called the winner some way out and while Just A Way, who was such an impressive winner in Dubai back in March, tried his best, he had to settle for second.
Spielberg was a half-length back in third while Gentildonna was beaten a further three-quarters of a length in fourth. German raider Ivanhowe finished sixth, beaten a total of six lengths.
Ivanhowe's owner George Baron von Ullmann felt the ground might have been a bit quick for his runner.
He said: “He was off slow but he usually takes his time to find his pace. The outcome might have been different if it was a softer ground – he could have finished third or fourth.
“After he returns, finishes the long quarantine and is back in his own stables, I will think about his next season. Everything is undecided at this point.”
Trainer Jean-Pierre Carvalho added: “I had known the Japanese horses were hard to beat, but Ivanhowe turned in a good result considering.
“He concentrated well and ran as he always does but, the race was tougher than we’d imagined.
“I shouldn’t be satisfied with a sixth-place finish but among a strong field like this, I am pleased.”
Winning trainer Katsuhiko Sumii was pleased to see Epiphaneia live up to the promise he showed in winning last year’s Kikuka Sho, also known as the Japanese St Leger, and will now discuss future plans with connections.
He said: “I am relieved and happy that Epiphaneia was able to prove what he can do today, because despite showing his outstanding potential in winning the Kikuka Sho, he hadn’t been able to race like we’d hoped.
“He was short of motivation during the spring, so after his summer break, I focused on having him tuned up a little which didn’t work out too well in the Tenno Sho. He has so much energy, which can really be hard to control, so I knew that the key to his winning was whether you can preserve that energy to the stretch.
“I would have to discuss with the owners on his future plans for next year, including any possible challenges overseas but the Arima Kinen would be our immediate plan for next month.”
Soumillon said: “It’s a great opportunity to come for just a weekend and have such a good ride and win one of the most prestigious race in the world.
“It means a lot because, as you know, I was unable to win this race with Buena Vista four years ago, and I am very grateful to (owner) Mr (Katsumi) Yoshida for giving me the opportunity to ride this time.”