2017 News

February 17, 2017


February Stakes (G1) - Comments from runners' connections
A Shin Bakken (horse, 5)

Hidemasa Nakao, trainer
“In the Negishi Stakes, he quickened in the stretch but he came up against a wall. The race before that was the same. He’s had one race after the other where he wasn’t able to run full out. We worked him on the uphill course on Feb. 9 and since there are only two full weeks in between races, we just breezed him, but his movement wasn’t bad. We gave him a hard workout up the hill on Feb. 15 as well. He’s been raced regularly but there’s been no damage. Earlier, he was pretty high-strung and easily agitated but these days he’s gotten a lot better. I’d say he has matured mentally. He’s stronger now as well. He has won at the mile, even though it was on turf, but the distance shouldn’t be a problem. I think he’ll likely run off the pace this time, and if he can use all he has, he can surely run a good race. The way he’s looking now, I’m looking forward to the race.”

Tokai TV Hai Tokai Stakes (G2)
Asukano Roman

Asukano Roman (horse, 6)

Yusaku Kugita, assistant trainer
“He raced from the rear in the Tokai Stakes, the pace was slow and he got caught inside. He never was able to give it much, let alone his all. So many factors were against him. Fortunately, he hasn’t had anything else go bad after that. He’s looking good. On Feb. 8 he showed us some good late speed in morning work but we also didn’t work him over as much distance as we normally do. Also, he was different from his normal self these days. He was more on his toes, more focused. We pushed him hard and that suited his mood and it was one of his best workouts so far. It looks like he’ll go into the race in the right frame of mind, but whether he can get a trip that suits him will wait to be seen. I’m hoping for an outside draw so he won’t get blocked in.”

Procyon Stakes (G3)
Best Warrior

Best Warrior (horse, 7)

Sei Ishizaka, trainer
“Before the Negishi Stakes, we had intentionally brought him back to Ritto Training Center early and were sure to give him enough work so he wouldn’t be too heavy. He went in to the race in very good shape, so it was a frustrating loss. But he’s a horse that always does his best no matter what the circumstances. He came out of the race well and has looked good since returning to Ritto. He clocked 58.4 seconds up the hill course on Feb. 8 and another workout on the hill on Feb. 15 where we just focused on the finish. There hasn’t been that much time since his last race and it’ll be his second long haul to Tokyo in that same period, so I’m not pushing him too hard. He raced under 58kg last time out and was carrying more than the others, so 57kg this time is a plus. Looking at his last run, I don’t see any signs of him slowing down yet. If he gets a good trip, I think he has ample chance.”

Brightline (horse, 8)

Dai Ito, assistant trainer
“He patiently allowed himself to be held back for a while after the break in the Negishi Stakes, but just past the third turn, he got upset. And I think that’s where he lost it even though he did quicken somewhat in the stretch. In work on Feb. 9, he was very keen but thanks to the noseband we had on him, we could keep him settled. I think he has improved from last race. The 1,400 meters is an easier race for him but last year he won a 1,600-meter race at Tokyo. Of course, the competition will be different and it won’t be easy, but it’s not a distance he can’t handle. And he hasn’t been hanging out recently. He’s 8 years old but he’s very lively and shows absolutely no signs of slowing down.”

February Stakes (G1)
Copano Rickey

Copano Rickey (horse, 7)

Akira Murayama, trainer
“He’s 7 years old this year, which isn’t old enough to be showing signs of aging. But I have the feeling that he’s gotten a bit ornery. He quits racing at times on his own. After time off and returning to the training center, we worked him a bit on Feb. 2. On Feb. 8, the jockey rode him and focused on the finish. The horse moved well and all looks good up to now. After that we breezed him twice. He doesn’t have a great kick so optimally he’d have a race like when he won two years ago. His racing style in a good race has been to get a good position and move out from there and I think that his ideal trip is one where he stays right on the pace. This time out we’re returning to a mile where he has gotten good results and that’s a plus. I think most importantly is keeping him focused and running smoothly until the finish.”

Takarazuka Kinen (G1)
Denim and Ruby (No. 6 horse)

Denim and Ruby (mare, 7)

Yasuyuki Tsujino, assistant trainer
“She made her move in the Arima Kinen (Grand Prix) as she was entering the stretch and she traveled to win. I think she ran well until the end, but the competition was strong, naturally. We kept her at the training center after that and her work has gone well. She’s on her toes and her muscle tone has returned. We worked her up the hill in tandem on Feb. 8 and she ran easily. Her wind was good too. This will be her third start since having 5 months off. She has definitely improved. She’s very good at Tokyo, but this is her first mile in a while. And it’s her first time on dirt. But we’ll just have to try it and see how she does. I think she’ll be able to handle it.”

Unicorn Stakes (G3)
Gold Dream

Gold Dream (colt, 4)

Osamu HIrata, trainer
“In the Champions Cup, he was quite agitated before the race and then he took a breather in the gate. If the jockey had sent him forward from there, I think he’d have took hold of the bit. And, it looked like the pace would have been tough to take the lead. We gave him time off to allow him to get refreshed and then aimed him at this race without a preliminary. On Feb. 8, he was urged over the latter half of his work and clocked 52.1 seconds with a final furlong in 12.4 seconds. It was a good time and he quickened nice and straight. He has gained a bit of weight but he doesn’t seem heavy at all. I think he’s just matured with the time off. I don’t think his last race was characteristic of what he can do. This time he’s had sufficient time between races and he’s not lacking in any aspect. He has had good results over the Tokyo mile. I don’t think he’ll be an embarrassment, even at the G1 level.”

Heian Stakes (G3)

Incantation (horse, 7)

Tomohiko Hatsuki, trainer
“He was quiet at first in the gate last race, but just as the gate opened he was starting to act up and I think you could say he lost the race at the break. He got bumped by another horse at the first turn as well and he wasn’t able to get into a nice rhythm. He wasn’t tired after that race and all has gone well since. We’ve given him gate practice in between and he gave us a characteristic bit of fast work last week. I think we’ll have him in respectable shape by race day. He’s more on his game than he used to be and the shorter distance is welcome. He finished second at Tokyo in 2015 and I’m looking forward to a good race.”

K T Brave
K T Brave

K T Brave (colt, 4)

Tetsuya Meno, trainer
“Normally, he’s a quiet horse, but his last start, the Kawasaki Kinen, was an away race for him and he got pretty uptight. And he lost 10 kg on top of that. He looked thinner but even though he couldn’t take the lead in the race, he didn’t lose by all that much. Because there’s not that much time between races, we haven’t given him too much work. On Feb. 9, he worked at a 15-15 pace up the hill and things looked fine. We’ve been racing him in a lot of the open-class races at NAR venues open to JRA-registered horses. This time it’s a JRA G1 and I don’t know if he’ll be able to handle the pace, which is likely to be different. We don’t have to necessarily take the lead and he did win a mile at Tokyo when he was 3 years old. He moved early and it was a good solid race. So, I do have my expectations up a bit.”

Negishi Stakes (G3)
Kafuji Take

Kafuji Take (horse, 5)

Takayuki Yukubo, assistant trainer
“In the Negishi Stakes, he broke well for him and in the third turn the jockey moved him out very nicely and had him in a position where he could run his kind of race. The front was not slowing down by any means but this horse was able to overtake them and did that with a final 3-furlong time of 34.5 seconds. It was a remarkable finish. He came out of the race well and everything’s gone well since. He’s gotten stronger behind and he’s getting good times much more easily now. He doesn’t get overly tense either, but has just the right amount of tension. The distance is a furlong longer this time but he handled 1,800 meters before that so I think it’ll be OK. Unlike before, he’s not bothered by racing in with the other horses and I feel he’s matured mentally. This time again he’s only got the one turn and the long Tokyo stretch. I’m looking forward to the race.”

King's Guard (horse, 6)

Ryo Terashima, trainer
“I’d been using both the uphill course and flatwork in training before his last race and working him quite hard. In that race he gained ground in the straight but faded in the end. He also hung out too. We’ve had two full weeks in between races this time and he’s gotten work but not as hard as he had for the last race. I’ve changed his bit to try to keep him straighter and that seems to have helped. Two races ago in the Musashino Stakes he was able to do a sufficient job keeping up with the pace. Even though it got a bit tough, he was able to run in a minute 34-some seconds. I’m not worried about either the extra distance or the turf at the start of this race. I think he’ll show improvement from last race. If things go smoothly at the start, he definitely can run a pretty good race.”

February Stakes (G1)

Moanin (horse, 5)

Sei Ishizaka, trainer
“Things didn’t go smoothly last out in the third turn and though he did make up ground in the stretch, I think that was about the best he could do. We gave him a bit of time off and returned to Ritto Training Center at the beginning of the year with this race as our target. He did have a bout of cellulitis (phlegmon) but after that all has gone well and he’s gotten ample exercise. His time was a bit too fast partway through his fast work on Feb. 8, but he still ran solidly to the end. It’s hard to say if he has improved or not but from his attitude, I’d say the cellulitis hasn’t had any adverse effect on him. He was champion last year and I think if he can run his own race he’ll have sufficient chance.”

Nishiken Mononofu (horse, 6)

Yasushi Shono, trainer
“He ran full out in the Negishi Stakes and just didn’t have any more left in the end. It was the horses that ran off the pace that finished well in that race and for him to have been traveling in third position, I’d say he really held his ground well. He runs better to the right but there was nothing that gave any cause for concern. We’ve been racing him regularly and the rotation is a bit tight so in work it’s fine if he shows us some good acceleration in the final stages. I don’t think we can expect any improvement, but I think he’s kept the condition he had for his last race. This past year he’s been up against a lot of good horses but he has never missed the board. He has the ability to win a Grade 1. I’m hoping something could help tip things in his favor. The trip, the ground, the draw, some combination that will give him some help.”

Tokyo Chunichi Sports Hai Musashino Stakes (G3)
Nonkono Yume

Nonkono Yume (gelding, 5)

Yukihiro Kato, trainer
“Considering that it’s an open-class race, the pace of the Tokyo Daishoten was slow. It was easy going in the first half, but when the pace picked up, he was slightly left behind. I think he recovered well from that race and he’s looking good. Last autumn, he was gelded before he returned to the track and it’s taken this long to get hormonally balanced again. We gave him a hard workout on Feb. 8 and the week before that. This week we only focused on the finish. He was runnerup in last year’s February Stakes and it does look like the mile is his best distance. It’s best not to worry about being too far back in the first half but to let him travel in a position that isn’t stressful for him. I think he’ll be able to show us some nice late speed. He does sometimes lose weight during the haul to the track so we’ve taken that into consideration and will bring him in to Tokyo on Friday. That should give us enough time to take good care of him until the race.”

Champions Cup (G1)
Sound True

Sound True (gelding, 7)

Noboru Takagi, trainer
“The turns at Kawasaki are tight and the dirt was dry so the jockey wasn’t able to send him forward as much as I thought he would in the Kawasaki Kinen. In the end, he did quicken well but it came down no doubt to the difference in the ground covered by him and the winner. When it’s a small track there are certain things that just can’t be helped. There isn’t much time between that race and this one but it wasn’t the kind of race that would have taken a lot out of him. I don’t think there are any problems with his condition. Earlier, he didn’t take well to the turf at the start of the Tokyo dirt mile. He couldn’t get traction and he was often left behind. And after that he’s only been raced in all-dirt races. Still, his earlier problems were when he was stiff and I think, now that he is more limber, he shouldn’t have any problems. However, I have to admit that it is a point of concern. I’m hoping he’ll be able to handle the turf part.”

White Fugue (mare, 5)

Noboru Takagi, trainer
“In her last race, the TCK Jo-o Hai at Ohi Racecourse, she was running so well, the jockey said he thought heading into the straight that she was going to win it easily. But she lost the final duel and I do think that the slow dirt and the 58kg she was carrying were factors. Still, where she normally would not settle well in an 1,800-meter race, she held back patiently this time, so it was a good race nonetheless. She has seemed a bit agitated since but it’s not enough to worry about. A counter-clockwise mile is best for her and most importantly is that she’ll only be carrying 55kg this time. She had the same rotation last year and finished 10th in this race. But that time the track was wet and it looked like it was going to come down to a speed race at the end, so we had no choice but to send her forward early and get into a good position. I think this time, if the dirt is just a bit slow, she’ll be able to do better.”


Sources: Keiba Book, Nikkan Sports, Netkeiba

February Stakes (G1) related contents
Breeders' Cup Challenge Race