2012 NHK Mike Cup (G1) - comments from runners' connections
*All entries 3 years old
Trainer, Takahisa Tezuka
"His workout time this week was a little faster than I'd planned, but we didn't push him too hard and he's in good shape. He's changed and he's got his old power back. In his fast work before the last race he didn't have the power he had this week. He'd looked a bit flat last time and I think he still wasn't fully recovered. We'd needed more time for that. But now he's really well-toned. The bad going in the Spring Stakes really did him in. He had always been a bit weak in his right hindquarters and would use his left more so I think he'll be better suited to the left and be able to give us more power. It's also a distance he hasn't lost at for all three times. I hope at Tokyo he can return to the heights he enjoyed as a 2-year-old."
Trainer, Ippo Sameshima
"Even with an extra furlong the last time out, letting him run behind the others helped him to run smoothly. If he'd been right in the midst of them he may have gotten too keen. But even so, even though he was that keen in the New Zealand Trophy, he was able to manage a third. He definitely has power. In last week's workout we put him back on his regular bit instead of the bit guard and we put a hood on him. We had the jockey ride him to see how he felt and he gave us some 84 seconds on the woodchip course. Considering the going, it wasn't a bad time and his movement was good. I think it was a good workout. And now, I think he is in top shape. We're not going to worry about position so much in the first half but are more concerned about having him run balanced. If we can get him like he was in the Falcon Stakes running from the outside we can concentrate on a good finish. He's won at 2,000 meters so he has the stamina. And the long stretch at Tokyo will surely be good for him. As always, getting him to run smoothly will be the key."
Trainer, Kojiro Hashiguchi
"We passed on the Satsuki Sho and decided right away to head for this race. We gave him a rest at Oyama Hills and then brought him back to work. He had a good workout this week and I think he's a colt with power. I think he'll be well-suited to Tokyo. I don't think you can use the Tokyo Sports Hai Nisai Stakes as a measure for a few reasons. He has a big stride and likes to stretch out and run and will be able to do that at Tokyo. He did a great job in the Daily Hai Nisai Stakes. If he can give us that kind of running, he has a chance."
Curren Black Hill (colt)
Curren Black Hill
Trainer, Osamu Hirata
"I'm not worried about the going and have no particular trip that I'm looking for. He's worked well to the left and there shouldn't be a problem there either. He showed us last time that he can handle the long haul over. I think if he can run his kind of race he has ample chance. He's the type of horse that if you're just a bit out of step with him he gets upset, but Akiyama has done a real good job riding him. The colt has speed, stamina, and good balance. Neither I nor Akiyama have won a G1 race yet and I'm hoping, if possible, that we'll win one with this horse. I'm a bit nervous, but I'm also really excited."
Jockey, Shinichiro Akiyama
"(In the New Zealand Trophy) we had an inside draw and I thought that was lucky. And the trip too, I was thinking it would go as it did and so it was a good race. He's only had mile races and I wonder how he would do if things got a lot longer. But I think he'd do well to about 2,000 meters. He's the top of his class and there's no problem with the left-hand track or the going. And there's no one kind of race that he needs in order to do well. He can give us a good performance no matter what kind of trip he gets. I'm not worried about this race in any way. There's no worry about the long stretch. Last time at Kyoto he was a little bit agitated and that's about the only concern. I get the feeling he knows the race is near. His movement is good as always, but he's more switched on. He feels really good and he's easy to ride. His heart and lungs are good. I want to make the most of this opportunity to ride a really good horse. I want to win a G1"
Trainer, Yoshito Yahagi
"When he leads, he runs rather stretched out and I didn't want him to just win on speed alone. Last race, there was a wall in front when he was coming into the stretch and I thought we were in trouble. But then, he was able to accelerate much better than I thought he would. It was exactly that kind of race I'd wanted him to have. In work this week, his time was so good I was a bit concerned we'd pushed him too much. With him in this kind of shape, I'm looking forward to the race."
Hana's Goal (filly)
Trainer, Kazuhiro Kato
"After we brought her back to the stable we only walked her for a week, then brought her out on the track on the 17th for the first time. There was no problem with her stride even when we galloped her. I was afraid that her hoof might be slow to heal, but it's OK. We had her checked over on Wednesday. Both the farrier and the vet checked her and found no problems so we decided to go ahead and race her. The question had been whether we'd race her or go for the Oaks. She is a really good horse so I didn't want to race her unless she was in the best of shape. Her time in work this week was a little fast but there's no problem with her movement."
Just a Way (colt)
Just a Way
Trainer, Naosuke Sugai
"We'd planned to run him in the New Zealand Trophy by after his fast work for that race he came down with a bit of a cold. It wasn't much but we wanted to be careful, so we passed on that race. We were right back working him shortly later though. Last week we worked him quite a bit, so I held back this week and it's enough. He's had good results on both a left-handed course and at the mile and he has shown he can handle the long haul. The rest I'll leave up to the jockey. But, I'm hoping for a fast track."
Jockey Yuichi Fukunaga
"We gave him a lot of work up until last week, so this week we didn't ask for the time. His movement was good. Riding him, I don't feel any of the problems he had before."
Leo Active (colt)
Trainer, Hiroaki Sugiura
"Considering the schedule before last race, I think he ran well. He passed a lot of horses in the end and really gave it his all. He's able to relax in work now but we still have some problems with his finding a good rhythm. I think the mile might be a bit long for him. The Nakayama mile is fast but at Tokyo the backstretch is long and in the first half things tend to be slower. If he can be patient is the question. His body and mind are both in a really good place now. He is the best he's ever been. He gave us a really nice workout this week. If he can do the same in the race he'll do well."
Trainer, Yoshito Yahagi
"Last time out, his running on the outside and having to cover extra ground surely was a factor in the loss. Then again, you could say, he doesn't yet have the power to race on the outside and catch the others. He's recovered from that race and has been working well. He's given us good times as well. In the Falcon Stakes he'd been a bit sluggish but he's really sharpened up now. His best distance may be 1,400 meters but I don't think the extra furlong will be a problem. I do wish he'd have some help but Hiroyuki Uchida will be riding and I think he can show us some good acceleration. He's most definitely on the up and up. He is the best he has been so far."
Major Athlete (colt)
Trainer, Noboru Takagi
"There's no change and he's coming along according to plan. There wasn't much time between races so we just gave him a bit of work and he looks good. He's eating well too and has recovered well. Last race was over 1,400 meters and he was racing from behind. The mile should be an easier race for him. It's his best distance and he's put on muscle on his hindquarters. It's going to be a strong lineup but I want him to do his best. Ideally, we'd have a slightly slow track."
Meiner Robusto (colt)
Trainer, Yutaka Takahashi
"He's gotten a lot of work so he's well-prepared. This week I just wanted to push him in the final strides to get him mentally ready. His movement was good. The weather looks like it will be good so we decided to go for it. He has the second in the mile (in the Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes) and I think if the going is firm he should be able to hold his own."
Trainer, Tomohito Ozeki
"He is in shape so I just wanted to check his responses this week and I have no complaints. I just gave him 4 furlongs for his fast work to get his mind in the right place. In the Satsuki Sho he had to race from the far inside and it was a difficult trip. Still, for a moment in the stretch I even thought 'Oh, wow!' I think Tokyo will suit him better than Nakayama does with its steep slope in the stretch. It'll be best if we have a fast track."
Mount Shasta (colt)
Trainer, Yasutoshi Ikee
"I think his second in the last race was only the difference between him running over worse ground than the horses on his inside. I think he was sticking close to those horses because he's still young. I think if he had gone more from the outside he would have been able to quicken and gain more ground. He didn't lose because he doesn't have the ability. Last week we pushed him hard, so this week we went easy. He quickened nicely in the end. The left-hand track isn't a concern and if we have a firm track, I think he'll be able to run sharply. It'd be good if we could add to our earnings and go to the Derby."
Neo Vainqueur (colt)
Trainer, Hidetaka Otonashi
"Last time out, I don't know if he just has a bad temperament or what but it was a bad race. But maybe too because he broke from the outside gate and raced on the outside. Still…. In the Falcon Stakes the going was slow. And, he has a high head carriage as it is, and when he can't get the speed he wants his head gets even higher. A fast track would be better for him. He's in about the same shape and the mile is well in his range. His movement wasn't bad in work this week. If he can run like he did in the Arlington Cup it'll be good."
Trainer, Kojiro Hashiguchi
"For his last race, Nakayama at the time was really slow on the outside. So, getting the far outside draw worked against us. Still, he didn't lose by that much. He's handled all the work we've given him and he's in good shape. He picked up the pace with each furlong in his fast work this week. He has power and my expectations are high. He ran a third at Tokyo last fall in the Keio Hai Nisai Stakes. I think the course suits him. The long trip does cause him to get more tense but as long as doesn't lose much weight he'll be able to run well. If he can run his own race he'll be able to hold his own among the top finishers. He definitely has a chance."
Sacred Reve (colt)
Trainer, Kiyotaka Tanaka
"He was a bit keen in his workout this week and so the time was a bit faster than I'd wanted. But there's no problem with his movement and we pushed fairly hard. He's improved with his last race and his workout this week has done him well too. After the last race we gave him a short rest but he's still well-toned and the improvement from last race is sufficient. In his last race, compared to the winner who had a perfect run, my horse wasn't running as balanced as he normally does. And he got caught in traffic there for a bit coming into the straight. I think the actual difference between him and the winner was really less than a length. I think if we can get a nice smooth run, with the improvement he's showing now from last race, we'll be good for an upset. He's got the body of a miler. He can really give us some explosive acceleration. We have a chance."
Shigeru Sudachi (colt)
Trainer, Masato Nishizono
"He had a lot of trouble from his debut in his races, a lot of that was due to external factors too. And we had a lot of trouble getting him back into shape as well. But now, he's put on muscle and physically he's changed quite a bit. For the past three weeks, each time we've pushed him he has gotten better. He's eating well too. Work on the hill has given him power. His competitive spirit is strong and from the gate he's keen to run, so it's good if he has some horses in front of him. It's going to be a strong lineup but he's on a streak and I'm hoping he can use that as momentum."
Sudden Storm (colt)
Trainer, Katsuichi Nishiura
"Last race and three races ago, he drew the far inside gate. Normally he would break well and make headway smoothly, but he couldn't. In the finish, it opened up in front and he was able to quicken. When it's the far inside it seems to take him a while to find his momentum. He recovered well from the New Zealand Trophy and we had the jockey up last week. He gave us a good time and has improved with the sharpener. I thought the Satsuki Sho would be a bit too long for him so I had aimed for this race all along. I think the left-hand track is easier for him, and he has run at Tokyo before. He was in good shape last week and there's no change this week. We have the long haul so I didn't want to give him too much work. I'm looking forward to the race. I hope he can give us some good results."