2017 News

November 23, 2017


Japan Cup (G1) - Comments from three Japanese runners' connections


Tenno Sho (Spring) (G1)
Kitasan Black

Kitasan Black (horse, 5)

Yutaka Take, jockey
“In the Tenno Sho (Autumn), he rammed into the front of the gate and missed the break. The going was really bad with water pooled on the surface but he didn’t seem to mind it as much as I thought he would. He was able to put up with that track and, because he could, he reached the front earlier than I thought he would and really held out well over the last 400 meters. Even so, he still was reaching down for his very last at the end and I was getting pretty nervous. He hasn’t changed all that much from the spring but when I got on him in the pre-parade ring he felt really switched on, really good. I could tell that he was in fantastic shape.

“Last year, he was in good shape but he also had the No. 1 gate and was able to travel at his own pace. It was a very impressive win and different from the way he’d won before that. He was extremely strong. He’s not the kind of horse that has to have things a certain way in order to do well. He has been able to win in a variety of ways and because of that I don’t think I need to limit our options. I have never thought that he absolutely needs to race from the front in order to win. I’ll be taking his start, the competition, the draw and the weather into consideration and coming up with what I think will be the best strategy for him. It’s the Japan Cup after all and the field is full of very good horses. There are 3-year-olds and horses from overseas and I think it’s a great mix of great horses.

“As for the draw, I think an inside draw is what I’d generally like for the Tokyo 2,400m. He has never been that quiet in the gate. There’s always been the chance that he’ll crash into the front or stumble coming out but we’ve never been quite as lucky as we were in the Tenno Sho (Autumn). But, other than with a scenario like last time, he is extremely fast once out of the gate. So, last time, since he’s done things like that before, I was just thinking, ‘Oh, he’s done it again.’ And, of course, I’ll be careful riding him this time. I can’t say what his best distance is. Or rather, I can’t say what distance he’s not good at.”

Hisashi Shimizu, trainer
“He really ran a strong race in the Tenno Sho (Autumn). I never thought he’d leave the gate like he did though. I felt a chill run down my spine, but I quickly got a hold of myself and was able to watch the race with relative coolness. And, he always has been rather fidgety in the gate. Still, he did get out of the gate OK and was away quickly so I didn’t worry. I don’t know, maybe he was just too wired up for the Tenno Sho and so his timing was a bit off. These things do happen sometimes. He started out in the back of the field but I think he looked to be well in hand and moved up nicely. And, in the stretch, I was surprised to see him get where he was in absolutely no time. When he moved out, he lined up with the others and pulled away gutsily so I was watching without worrying too much. I was thinking, Black will be able to hold them off.

“Fortunately, he came out of the race well. He hasn’t lost a bit of sheen from his coat and he is fresh. That last race will have sharpened him up and I felt no need to scramble to get him ready. Everything has gone according to plan. His fast work this week went well and I think I can give him high marks. He was relaxed after work as well. I think you could say he’s at his best now. He had a fantastic run in the Tenno Sho (Spring) and in the autumn he ran a very strong race even with the bad going. I think he is better than he was last year. I have no worries about anything, including the trip to Tokyo. There will be the 3-year-olds, but I never think about the competition. I just focus on getting him ready. The one thing above all I would like to express to Kitasan Black is my appreciation. Of course, the pressure is on now that his retirement has been announced, but I have no worries when it comes to him. There is no risk of an accident and I am not feeling the pressure as much as I used to. One more thing - there’s not much more time left, but with the time we do have, I want to enjoy it together.”

Kobe Shimbun Hai (Japanese St. Leger Trial) (G2)
Rey de Oro

Rey de Oro (colt, 3)

Christophe Lemaire, jockey
“In work on Wednesday, the trainer told me to do whatever I felt was best. My horse was behind two others and he moved very nicely in the stretch. He is in really good shape - he’s perfect. He wasn’t tired at all after the workout. You could see all his veins. I think he’s in tiptop shape. After the Kobe Shimbun Hai, I did say that I thought he would improve and he has. He’s gotten better than he was coming off that layoff. He had gotten better after his fast work leading up to that race but he wasn’t quite 100 percent. He has gotten better now. He really felt great today. He took the bit from the start and responded well in the stretch. I was really very happy with him. He has always had good racing sense and today his footwork and breathing were very good too. Compared to when he ran in the Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby), he’s much more mature. Now, he’s relaxed and very quiet before his fast work. Earlier, he used to be a bit wired, he’d sweat and be worked up. Now, he’s mature and quiet and that’s a very good thing. I think it’s why he can save his strength before a race and then be able to run better.

“It will be his first time to compete against older horses and that is a big thing. But, it’s already autumn and he’s already a grownup. It’s his first time against older horse, but I’m confident. Of course, I’ll be keeping my eye on others. Kitasan Black is the strongest. He is definitely a rival. He was very strong in the Tenno Sho (Autumn) and he has another big chance in the Japan Cup. If I can, I’d like to be able to keep him in my sights. But it is the Japan Cup and there are lots of strong horses such as Satono Crown and Soul Stirring and I’m really looking forward to it. I don’t know what kind of race I’ll ride but Rey de Oro can race from any position. Last start he was coming of a layoff but still he surprised me. He really broke well and we were able to get a good position. And he was very relaxed racing in that spot. And, from there he quickened well. So, of course, it’ll depend on the start and the pace, so I don’t have an idea yet of what I’ll do.”

Kazuo Fujisawa, trainer
“Last race he was back from time off but he ran a very strong race, and I was reassured by it. He had the long trip to the track and was stabled there away from home but he was still calm and he broke unusually well. I thought that was quite good. After that race, we gave him time off away from the training center and brought him back about a month ago. It was a rather relaxed rotation and things have gone according to plan as we’ve gradually upped the pace of his training. He doesn’t need the kind of hard work we gave him coming off the layoff. He’s relaxed and I think he has come along well. He had a hard workout last week and this week his time wasn’t all that fast but he easily caught and passed the horse ahead of him. He was light on his feet and that was good to see.

“Whatever the competition is like, I’m just happy to be seeing him looking good. The Japan Cup is a very tough race for a 3-year-old but we have next year as well, so I want him to have the experience of racing with the older and more experienced horses. He’s only raced with others of his own age group, but the older horses have had years of experience. There are a number of horses who excel at this distance and I think it will be tough for him, but he will be carrying 2kg less and I want him to give it his best. He hasn’t been a good starter up until now, but he broke well in his last race, so I think it’d be nice if he could break together with all the others and get a good position. Aside from the Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby) and the very slow pace of that, his last race was very good and I’d like to see that kind of race again.”

Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks) (G1)
Soul Stirring

Soul Stirring (filly, 3)

Kazuo Fujisawa, trainer
“She started well in her last outing but didn’t get a very good position. Things got a little messy in places and she raced on the outside in place and it wasn’t her best race. I was very disappointed. The going was bad but she has been in incredible shape since the weather has cooled off and that’s very reassuring. I think she is showing definite improvement.

“She did win the Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks), but of course that was up against other 3-year-olds. Still, last out, she ran a solid finish over a sloppy 2,000 meters and I’m hoping she’ll do her best over 2,400 meters this time. On Wednesday, she was quite on her toes in morning training and she was working alongside horses from other stables. She ran on well after the finish line and I think her breathing and movement were both good. I don’t know if I’d rate her as good as Rey de Oro, but she is a strong horse. Still, she hasn’t done well in her two starts this fall, so I’m hoping she’ll try hard this time. She has always had good racing sense so I’m not planning on giving the jockey any specific instructions. I’m hoping my youngsters will do their best next year as well, so this time I want to give them this experience of racing with older, more experienced horses.”


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