2018 News

March 23, 2018


Takamatsunomiya Kinen (G1) - Comments from Japanese runners' connections
Silk Road Stakes (G3)
Dance Director
Dance Director (horse, 8)

Kazuhide Sasada, trainer
“When Yutaka Take rides, the start is always good and so it was last time out in the Hanshin Cup. He raced from a good position. Actually, I had wanted him to race from behind and then focus on his late kick, but he did run a strong race. I had had the Hankyu Hai in my sights as well, but had some concerns with him, so I decided to keep it to this race alone. He had a good strong workout last week. His movement looked really good, so this week I had planned to just focus on the last stage but we worked him hard up the hill course. He has been coming along nicely. He can do well coming directly without a prep from time off and though I’ll leave it up to the jockey, the pace of a 1,200-meter race is fast, so I would like him to get a pretty good position. I’m hoping for some good results and so hope all goes well this year.”

Hankyu Hai (G3)
Diana Halo
Diana Halo (mare, 5)

Hiroyuki Oneda, trainer
“She has only just moved to my stable, so we’ve been trying to get her ready in as much familiar surroundings as possible. Her feed is the same. The vet is the same and her stall is in the same place in the stable as it was in her former stable. So far, we haven’t had any mishaps and things have gone well, which is the most important thing. Jockey Kohei Matsuyama rode her in work on March 14 to get a feel for her. He said, ‘She’s very easy to ride because she’s nice and straight onto the bit.’ I think if things continue to go as they have, we’ll get her to the gate in good shape. She gives it her best in a race, but she still has problems settling. She’s been doing well racing from second or third position, but with her racing style the change to Chukyo is not a plus by any means. We’ll just have to see how well she can hold her own.”

Champions Cup (G1)
Fine Needle
Fine Needle (horse, 5)

Yoshinori Unoki, assistant trainer
“For the Silk Road Stakes, since this race as our main goal, we’d left room for improvement. But, he’d gotten heavier than we’d thought. Still, he didn’t seem fat at all and broke very nicely and ran well. He had a bit of time off after that and since all has gone well. The rider pushed him hard in last week’s fast work, working in tandem over the woodchip course. His time was fast and it was a good workout. I think a breeze will be enough this week. I think his weight will be down about 10 kg from last race, but he is putting on muscle with each workout. He has a real sprinter’s body now. He has matured both mentally and physically and I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of race he’ll give us.”

Hakodate Sprint Stakes (G3)
Jeune Ecole
Jeune Ecole (filly, 4)

Keiichiro Yasuda, assistant trainer
“In the (Yukan Fuji Sho) Ocean Stakes, I’d wanted her to give it a bit more, but it was her first race in a while and she did run as I had expected. She has improved from last fall. Her muscle tone has improved and I think she’ll show improvement from her last race. I don’t think the Chukyo course itself will give her problems. Usually she’s so laidback you barely need reins, but when she gets worked up progress is slow in training. I’m hoping to see change from her final workout right before raceday.”

Yukan Fuji Sho Ocean Stakes (G3)
King Heart
King Heart (horse, 5)

Shinobu Hoshino, trainer
“He’d had a race after his layoff and he had improved, but his start in the Ocean Stakes was sharp and he was able to get a good position, keep up with the pace and show his best. On March 15, he worked with a horse that has yet to break his maiden. I put that horse in front of this one and had him catch him. It was a long run but he felt strong from start to finish. He’s fresh and he has filled out. He’s matured more and I think it’s proof he’s in good shape. The competition will be different from anything he’s had before but he’s in good shape and no matter how long it takes, I’m confident he’ll give us his best. I’m going to watch the race with hopes high.”

Kyoto Himba Stakes (G3)
Let's Go Donki
Let's Go Donki (mare, 6)

Tomoyuki Umeda, trainer
“The February Stakes followed her trip overseas and it was over a mile on dirt. I’d actually wanted one more workout before that one and there were concerns but she really accelerated well in the stretch and I think she turned in a good race. Since then, things have gone well. She has recovered physically and the February Stakes has helped make getting her ready for this race easier. On March 15, she clocked 49.2 seconds up the hill. She was a bit keen and the last furlong was in 12.6 seconds. But, I had wanted to give her a hard workout. This week on March 21, we pushed her again and she clocked 53.2 seconds up the hill with a 12.8-second final 200 meters. She’s improved with her last race and she’s good over 1,200 meters. If she can give it what she has, she has ample chance. I want to have her in tiptop shape on raceday.”

Nac Venus
Nac Venus
Nac Venus (mare, 5)

Hiroaki Sugiura, trainer
“In the Ocean Stakes she tripped coming out of the gate, so we couldn’t afford to hold her back and keep enough left over for the finish. Still, she did quicken well in the homestretch. But, like the race before that, she did lose concentration in the straight. She didn’t go off her feed at all after that and she’s as full of energy as she always is. I think this time of year is good for her. Last week on March 16, I gave her a light workout on the flat and this week we pushed her hard over 5 furlongs. She’d been quitting once she turned for home, so we worked her with another horse this week. The draw is important. She runs well with other horses around her, so at Chukyo an inside gate is desirable. This is the first time together with jockey Kosei Miura but it’ll be fine since she’s not a difficult horse. It’s going to depend on whether she’ll race seriously through to the end.”

Keihan Hai (G3)
Nero (horse, 7)

Daishi Hidaka, assistant trainer
“He did well in the Ocean Stakes coming off a layoff. The damage from that race was about the same as always and he was back in training the week after with no points for concern. He’s seven years old now, so it’s enough if he can just maintain condition. He has two full weeks between races so this week the plan was to give him his usual workout. He shouldn’t have any problem racing to the left and the jockey has ridden him before. It’s the last day of the Chukyo meet, so things would be interesting if we’d get some rain and there was a bit of spring to the track.”

Capella Stakes (G3)
Nobo Baccara
Nobo Baccara (horse, 6)

Shoichi Temma, trainer
“In the February Stakes, the two horses to his inside were fast and he wasn’t able to take the lead. Then, just as he settled in third position, another horse passed him on the outside. That was tough. We kept him at the Training Center and worked on getting him over that last race. Two weeks ago, rain hampered plans to work him hard, so we pushed him hard on March 15. It was a good workout. He finished seventh in the Hakodate Sprint Stakes last year. He raced from behind and moved up nicely. I’m going to go with that image on Sunday.”

The 8th Leg of Global Sprint Challenge Sprinters Stakes (G1)
Red Falx
Red Falx (horse, 7)

Tomohito Ozeki, trainer
“As I had instructed him to, the jockey in the Hankyu Hai rode to keep as much in reserve as possible for the final stages, so with the inside draw that meant falling back, which probably made the difference in the end and he just wasn’t able to reach the front. It’s too bad he didn’t win, but it was a good race, a good sharpener and should stand him well for races to come. Having had that prep after his layoff makes getting him ready easier. Still, the first half of his fast work last week was slower than I’d wanted it to be. I’d wanted to push him over more distance than he was. But he did run solidly until the end, which was good. He looks like he’s fresh and has improved. I think the Chukyo 1,200 is his best race. I’m looking forward to it.”

Oka Sho (Japanese 1000 Guineas) (G1)
Reine Minoru
Reine Minoru (filly, 4)

Masaru Honda, trainer
“Her return to the training center was delayed due to snow and we weren’t able to give her all the work we wanted to going in to the Ocean Stakes. Still, even though she was running tensely she did give it her best until the end. And she wasn’t far off the front at the finish. She came out of the race pretty well and we took good care of her. This time we’ve been able to get her ready as we usually would and I think we can look forward to improvement. She looked fine last week and the rotation is just as planned, so things should go well if we get her fine-tuned as planned. The main concern is if she can settle well, but I don’t think we’ll have the same scenario as we had last race. If she can find her rhythm, she runs solidly. We’ll see how well she can do if she’s able to keep pace easily with the others.”

Ibis Summer Dash (G3)
Rhein Meteor
Rhein Meteor (horse, 8)

Takahiro Mizuno, trainer
“The Silk Road Stakes was his first race in a while and he tensed up and missed the break. And he was keen under way and couldn’t use what he has. After that, his finishing order in the Ocean Stakes wasn’t good but he did settle and it wasn’t a bad race. He tends to get better with each race and his movement in fast work last week was good. I think he’ll be down by about 10 kg this time as he’s been getting more work as we get nearer to the main event. The competition is strong, but I want him to do his best, run his race and get even just a little closer to the top.”

Rhein Spirit
Rhein Spirit
Rhein Spirit (horse, 7)

Tsugio Mori, assistant trainer
“In the Ocean Stakes, the others were fast and he held back. It’s hindsight, but if he had raced more aggressively, I would have liked to see what he could have done. Things are all in order. Last week’s work was good for where he was at the time. I think he’s really at his peak now and I hope things will continue to go well as the race draws near. The field will be strong and it’ll be tough for a frontrunner like him. If he can race aggressively and get the kind of trip he likes and a fast track, he’ll have a chance.

Rhein Tesoro
Rieno Tesoro
Rieno Tesoro (filly, 4)

Ryo Takei, trainer
“It was her first 1,200-meter race in a while last time out and things were a little busy for her. She got a decent position but she pulled back a bit when another horse moved in on her. She just wasn’t ready yet. Looking at her heart rate, she doesn’t seem to be working hard enough in morning work. She’s a bit too laidback, so I put blinkers on her to try to bring out her competitiveness a bit. They worked almost too well and things would be a lot easier if they helped her concentrate more in a race. She’s smart and I think by having had one race at the distance, she’ll be able to do a better job this time. She’ll have the blinkers on and she’s improving. It’s a Grade 1 and the competition will be higher but I’m hoping she’ll do her best.”

Takamatsunomiya Kinen (G1)
Seiun Kosei
Seiun Kosei (horse, 5)

Hiroyuki Uehara, trainer
“If he gets knocked about during a race he really starts to get nervous about the other horses, but in his last start he assertively went to the front and was able to give it his all. It was a good race. In his work last week, I had the rider keep after him past the finish line and he said, ‘I think this will sharpen him up.’ The week of the race I usually give him a hard workout, but this time I plan to only focus on the last stage. He went into his prep on the up and up last year, which was different from this year. But, it’s the same rotation and his condition is the same as it was last year. He’s well suited to the course, as he showed last year with a perfect run even though the ground was a bit soft. The jockey knows the horse’s quirks well and I’m hoping this guy won’t be bothered by the others and can give it his best.”

CBC Sho (G3)
Shining Lei
Shining Lei (horse, 6)

Tomokazu Takano, trainer
“For the Hanshin Cup, he was back after time off and I think he was, in part, simply not ready. But more so, I think the far outside draw played a role. He kind of drifted out of the gate for two or three strides and then took off all charged up. I think 1,400 meters was tough for him too. We were lucky he came out of that race well. I had thought I would give him a prep to get him ready that way, but then decided to go directly to the Takamatsunomiya Kinen. With this race in our sights, we brought him back from the farm early and have been giving him lots of work. To be honest, his workout last week was too fast, so this week we’re being careful to calm him down. His heart and lungs are in good shape. His biggest rival in the race will be himself. I think the Chukyo 1,200 will be good for him. Key will be if he and the jockey can stay in tune.”

Sprinters Stakes (G1)
Snow Dragon
Snow Dragon (horse, 10)

Noboru Takagi, trainer
“I did think the pace was fast in the Ocean Stakes but the frontrunners weren’t stopping. But, this horse changed leads nicely in the stretch and ran well for him. But the race didn’t unfold in a good way for him. He worked up the hill course on March 14 with the focus on the last stage and his movement looked good. He’s 10 years old now but you wouldn’t know it. This week I considered the track and just breezed him. He’s getting his usual rotation – from the Ocean Stakes to the Takamatsunomiya. Recently, he doesn’t tone up like he used to and I don’t know if he’ll be lean enough in time. That is one point of concern. He finished seventh last year and there was rain and the track was a bit slow, which was a good thing. I’d like the same for this year as well.”


Sources: Keiba Book, Netkeiba

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