2016 News

September 30, 2016


Sprinters Stakes (G1) - comments from runners' connections
Ibis Summer Dash (G3)
Bel Canto
Bel Canto (mare, 5)

Fumiaki Shibahara, assistant trainer
“She got beat in the Kitakyushu Kinen, but she was carrying the top weight. It was still a good race. It was her third start of the summer and I think she really gave it her all. She came out of the race well. In last week’s fast work, her partner moved better than we’d expected so Bel Canto trailed, but she got a good run in, none the less, so it’s not a problem. She had work the week before that as well, so this week just breezed her for some fine tuning. It’s her fourth straight race so I’m not expecting any great improvement, but I think she’ll be able to maintain her condition and head into the race in good shape. She hasn’t gotten good results at Nakayama. The Asahi Futurity Stakes was too long for her and going into last year’s Sprinters Stakes, she got too worked up, so this year we’re doing our best to keep her calm on raceday. This will be her final race, so we’re hoping to have her in good enough shape to have no regrets.”

Takamatsunomiya Kinen (G1)
Big Arthur
Big Arthur (horse, 5)

Kenichi Fujioka, trainer
“In the Centaur Stakes and even with 58 kg on him and that high pace, he kept up well until the very end. He was strong. After that race, he didn’t stiffen up at all and things have gone as planned. Early in last week, we gave him a strong gallop keeping things easy for the first half and just focusing on the finish. I didn’t want him to get overly excited but it is a G1 so I do have to give him a good workout and that’s what I did. I think it went well. This week I just worked him on the hill course on Wednesday. Last race he didn’t quite have his muscle back and still had fat on him, so even if his weight stays the same for this race, I think he’ll show improvement with that sharpener. It is his first time at Nakayama but I’m not worried about the long trip to Tokyo. He can race from any position, so it being his first time at the course isn’t much of a concern. I’ve left the decision at the break all up to the jockey. I really want him to be in tiptop shape because we’re aiming for spring and autumn victories and the Best Sprint Horse of the Year award.”

Keeneland Cup (G3)
Blanc Bonheur
Blanc Bonheur (filly, 3)

Hideki Sasaki, assistant trainer
“Her weight last race was back to where it should have been and, despite her getting a bit overexcited, we were able to clear a lot of hurdles and get results. She was still relatively calm, though not as calm as when she’s at Ritto Training Center, so having stayed at Sapporo was good. Drawing wide made for easy racing and she was able to show her stuff in the stretch. She’s OK at the mile, but 1,200 meters is an easier race for her. After we got her back to the training center, we gave her an easy week and then started bringing her back into training. The jockey took her up the hill course alone last week and even though the ground was bad, she ran well until the top and looked good. It’s a G1 with older horses so we’ll just have to see how well she can do. She did well last start, so I’m looking forward to it. Getting a smooth trip is important, as is how well she handles the haul to the track.”

Silk Road Stakes (G3)
Dance Director
Dance Director (horse, 6)

Kazuhide Sasada, trainer
“The Centaur Stakes was his first race in a while and he got agitated, but he still broke well for him. But there was a lot of early speed and the frontrunners held their ground. Still, he ran well over the last 3 furlongs and I think that race will stand him well in this one. He came out of the race well and is doing fine and work is going as planned. There isn’t much time in between races so I’m only breezing him, but the one last fast gallop this week should have him just right. The sharpener should have done him good and let off some steam. If he can dig down and access the power he has, I think he can handle a G1 race. One concern is that he makes quite a fuss when he arrives at the racetrack, so we’re bringing him there the day before the race and hoping he’ll calm down. Last time he drew an odd number and was kept waiting in the gate and got irritated. So I hope he draws an even number.”

Oka Sho (Japanese 1000 Guineas) (G1)
Let's Go Donki
Let's Go Donki (filly, 4)

Tomoyuki Umeda, trainer
“In the Keeneland Cup, she was a little keen in the backstretch. I would have liked her to have raced from a bit more forward position, but the two who finished ahead of her were saddled with less weight. She quickened well in the stretch and I’d say it was a good race. Since coming back to the training center, all has gone well and she is calm in a good way. On Sept. 22, we galloped her up the hill course and she looked good. She was nicely in hand. This week, because of the trip to the track, we just breezed her. From her bloodline, I’d always thought she was suited to short distances and I think she has gotten used to the 1,200m now. The change to Nakayama will be a plus for her and even though it’s a strong lineup, I think she’ll be able to run a good race if she has a good trip.”

Hankyu Hai (G3)
Mikki Isle
Mikki Isle (horse, 5)

Hidetaka Otonashi, trainer 
“In the Takamatsunomiya Kinen, the frontrunner hung out going around the final turn and that translated to quite a loss for this horse. Still, at one point he was out in front on his own and showed just how good he is. He was tired after that race, so I gave him time off. I had considered running him in the Centaur Stakes before the Sprinters Stakes, but with the long trip to the track I thought it best not to have him too tense, so I decided to just go straight to the Sprinters. He’s good coming off a layoff anyhow. On Sept. 25 he was a bit slow in fast work but the horse he was working with was a mover. He had another strong workout on Sept. 28 under jockey Kohei Matsuyama and that should have him just right. I’m not going to insist on him leading. After seeing his last start, I’d say he can race from any position. I think Big Arthur is likely to sit back and mark him so Mikki Isle is going to have to be in good enough shape to shake him off.”

Nero (horse, 5)

Taishi Hidaka, assistant trainer
“We had wanted him to race more forward in the Centaur Stakes last out, but he didn’t want to go. Still the results were OK. He did accelerate in the end and it wasn’t a bad race. There isn’t much time between races, so we kept him at the training center after that. All has gone according to plan. His second in the Centaur has opened up opportunities for him. He has had good results at Nakayama, so I’m hoping he does his best.”

Sekiya Kinen (G3)
Red Arion
Red Arion (horse, 6)

Shinsuke Hashiguchi, trainer
“He hasn’t been in bad shape at all, but recently, his results have been subpar. I thought that by giving him less distance he might be able to concentrate better. But in the Centaur Stakes, things got crowded just before the finish and even though he had a lot left he couldn’t use it, which was a real shame. I think he’s suited to the 1,200m. With only a short time in between races, we worked him a bit on the weekend as we usually do in this case and then breezed him up the hill on Sept. 28 and Sept. 30. He’s in good shape. Looking at last start, I see he can handle running in with the crowd. He has always had a lot of power and I’m hoping last race will stand him well this time.”

CBC Sho (G3)
Red Falx
Red Falx (horse, 5)

Tomohito Ozeki, trainer
“He displayed a fantastic kick in the CBC Sho stretch. And his winning time was top-class too. It was a great win. We gave him a short rest after that at a farm near the training center, then brought him back and aimed him here. His time on Sept. 14 was a bit slow, so last week we pushed him quite hard. He’d been rather heavy but has slowly toned up and his hindquarters are looking good now. His results have been better racing to the left, but he did fine in the Coral Stakes to the right this spring. He’s able to change leads smoothly running to the right at the training center too. And, the Nakayama 1,200m is over the outer course with easy turns, so I’m not especially worried about the course. He’s looking good and I’m looking forward to the G1.”

Keio Hai Spring Cup (G2)
Sakura Gospel
Sakura Gospel (horse, 8)

Tomohito Ozeki, trainer  
“The jockey took him to the lead in the Keio Hai Spring Cup and I must say there was a moment at the top of the hill in the stretch where I got a bit excited for a moment. If you consider his huge flub in the Takamatsunomiya Kinen, then I’d say he ran a nice race in the Keio Hai Spring Cup and didn’t finish that far off the winner. He spent the summer in Hokkaido. He seemed a little off on Sept. 18 after work and apparently an old injury was hurting him. Thankfully it wasn’t anything major and things have gone well since. He’s been really raring to run and we let him do so on Sept. 22. His time in the early stages was good but his finish wasn’t the greatest. We did push him pretty hard. The only time he hasn’t done well in a Nakayama 1,200m race was this race three years ago. Last year we got results from taking him to the track directly before the race. He’s 8 years old but doesn’t show any signs of aging and I think we can expect him to be up there battling for the top spots.

Keihan Hai (G3)
Satono Lupin
Satono Lupin (horse, 5)

Akira Murayama, trainer
“Last out in the Keeneland Cup, he didn’t start that well and so wound up racing from the back and also on the outside. The pace was pretty slow too and it would have been better if there’d been a bit stronger pace. Racing from where he did made things a bit difficult. I gave him a bit of time off after that and on Sept. 22 the jockey rode him up the hill course. This week, even with the trip to the track in mind, he had a hard run up the hill on Sept. 29. It’s a G1 with a strong lineup but if he can keep something in reserve, he has good late speed. And, if he gets a bit of pace, it’ll work in his favor.”

Kokura Nisai Stakes (G3)
Shuji (colt, 3)

Naosuke Sugai, trainer
“He showed us some nice racing in his two races at Sapporo, even if the results were frustrating, and I think competing against older horses was a very good experience for him. From there I took him back to Ritto and all has gone well. The jockey rode him last week and he gave us a nice time of 52 seconds with an 11.8-second final furlong. He looked fantastic and I couldn’t have asked for a better workout. He has matured nicely as a 3-year-old. Last week he worked hard too, then a breeze up the hill on Sept. 26 and another hard hill run on Sept. 29. It’s a G1 and the field will be strong, but he’s ready to race and the weight he’ll be given will be light. I’m hoping he’ll use that to his advantage and give us a race that will stand him well for the future. Last race, the screen caught his eye and he moved out from about the center of the track. I’m hoping he’ll keep his concentration this time until the finish.”

Sprinters Stakes (G1)
Snow Dragon
Snow Dragon (horse, 8)

Noboru Takagi, trainer
“He was loaded late in the Centaur Stakes, but he also has learned to stand quietly in the gate, so he had a nice start. If you send him forward he can go forward, so he raced in second position last race. We really were gunning for the win and for that reason I think his finish was a bit lacking. In hindsight, I would say if he’d held back a bit more he’d have made second or third place. He came out of the race with little damage and he’s quite on his toes now. Jockey Takuya Ono rode him on the hill course on Sept. 23 and he got the kind of time we were looking for. I think his last race will stand him well this time and the Sprinters has been our target all along. It’ll be the last day of the meet and if the track is a bit torn up and slower than usual that will work in his favor. He’s 8 years old but I don’t see any sign of him slowing down, so I’m really looking forward to the race.”

Hakodate Sprint Stakes (G3)
Solveig (filly, 3)

Ippo Sameshima, trainer

“In the Keeneland Cup, she did quicken in the end, but she had missed the break, and in a Sapporo 1,200m race, that’s not good. And I think her fast gallop over the turf course that week may have been a bit too easy. Still, if she’d done better at the break, I think the results would have been different. We took her straight back to Ritto from Sapporo. At first she was a little off her feed and she lost some weight but she slowly gained it back and now she’s back up to her regular weight of about 470 kg. She clocked 54-some seconds up the hill course last week and she moved well, although we were mainly focusing on the finish. Jockey Hironobu Tanabe breezed her this week just to see how she feels. It’ll be her first trip to the Kanto area and I do expect her to lose some weight during the trip but am hoping she’ll race in the 460-kg range. She looks rather thin but if her weight isn’t down by too much, it won’t be a problem. The other concern is the gate. I hope she’ll have a good start and be able to keep up with the pace.”

Hakodate Sprint Stakes (G3)
Teehaff (horse, 6)

Katsuichi Nishiura, trainer
“He raced from the rear on the inside in the Centaur Stakes and though he quickened well going into the stretch, he got into a tight spot. On Sept. 21, he worked up the hill with another horse and lagged behind but the following week we pushed him hard again and his movement was good. This week on Sept. 28, jockey Kyosuke Kokubun gave him a hard run up the hill course. He’s not good in the van, so we plan to move him on Friday. By getting there early, I’m hoping he’ll calm down by raceday. The lineup will be strong, so I’m not thinking things will be easy. But he has good speed and I’m hoping he’ll get a strong pace.”

CBC Sho (G3)
Uliuli (mare, 6)

Nobuyuki Tashiro, assistant trainer
“In the Centaur Stakes, the winner’s speed was a cut above, but she turned in the fastest final 3-furlong time of the field and was able to come to within 0.4 seconds of the winner. It was her first race in a while and she wasn’t able to lead. On top of that she got pushed outward as well. On Sept. 23, she worked on the hill course. There’s no big change but she wasn’t tired, so we were able to have her back in work right away. This week if she handles her last strong gallop well, I think she’ll be ready. She’s still got good spirit and doesn’t seem to be slowing down at all. She did well last year in this race, so Nakayama doesn’t pose any problems. I think if the trip goes her way, she’ll be able to show improvement. I’m looking for her to rally.”


Sources: Keiba Book, Netkeiba, Nikkan Sports

Sprinters Stakes (G1) related contents
Global Sprint Challenge
Breeders' Cup Challenge Race