2018 News

June 22, 2018


Takarazuka Kinen (G1) - Comments from Japanese runners' connections
Sports Nippon Sho Stayers Stakes (G2)

Albert (horse, 7)

Kazutomo Mori, assistant trainer
“He’d had a sharpener going in to the Tenno Sho (Spring) and he was nice and lean. So, I’d expected him to do better than he had the year before, but he got a wide draw and got pushed wide all the way around. He had nothing left in the end so he couldn’t demonstrate the ability he has. I’d say his loss was only due to the draw and the trip. We sent him to Northern Farm Shigaraki after that and he returned to the training center on May 30. His fast work has been as usual, his condition is good and he weighed 492kg on June 12. Everything is going well getting him ready. He definitely does better with more distance and 2,200 is not his best, but I do think it is within his range of capability and I have my hopes up for a good race.”

American Jockey Club Cup (G2)

Danburite (colt, 4)

Hidetaka Otonashi, trainer
“With the slow pace in the Osaka Hai, sending him forward was fine, but he got in a battle for the lead and used up what he had. The horse that took the lead and came in from his outside came up empty in the end too, but… After his race in Hong Kong, we kept an eye on him at the farm to see if he was showing any signs of fatigue and when he wasn’t we brought him back to the training center and aimed him here. Two weeks ago, I had him work in tandem and last week he showed a lot of improvement from the week before. This week was his third bit of fast work (up the hill course with Mikki Rocket). Last race, he had lost too much weight (down 14kg) but it’s back up now. He won the American Jockey Club Cup at Nakayama, so I think the distance suits him. He’d do well getting cover in a forward position, but I don’t have any particular instructions for the race. He hasn’t been able to give it his all in his last two starts, but if he can make his move early, it’ll be good.”

Kikuka Sho (G1)

Kiseki (colt, 4)

Katsuhiko Sumii, trainer
“In the Nikkei Sho, he wasn’t able to run patiently behind another horse. I have the feeling that the promise between horse and rider was broken. If we had put him into training right after that he probably would have become a horse that could only race over short distances. So, I gave him time off. He came back looking refreshed but with the different atmosphere at the training center from the farm, the main concern was seeing if he could work together well with the rider. Jockey Mirco Demuro did not ride him this week but he did ride the two weeks before. In order for the horse to relax during the race, and especially because he had some time off, we’ve pushed him hard in work. I won’t know until the race if that’ll have done the trick, but we’ve done our best to get him ready. He worked solo so we could concentrate on keeping him well in hand and he did seem relaxed. He has filled out and matured since the Kikuka Sho (Japanese St. Leger). I’m reminded once again that he’s a very talented horse and my focus has been on getting him ready without harming any of that ability. As for a heavy track, he did well in the Kikuka Sho, so I don’t think it would bother him.”

Nikkei Shinshun Hai (G2)
Mikki Rocket

Mikki Rocket (horse, 5)

Hidetaka Otonashi, trainer
“In the Tenno Sho (Spring) he showed his tenacity but it was a race that showed he isn’t suited to distance. Still, he was only a neck behind the third-place finisher and I think it was a good run. I gave him a bit of time off, then aimed him here and have given him a lot of work. All has gone well. Last week he worked with Danburite, who runs better in work, but that said, this guy caught him easily. It looks like he’s in good shape. He’s gotten better out of the gate and his running has stabilized. I think 2,400 meters is his best distance, but I think he can give it a nice run at this distance too.”

Noble Mars
Noble Mars

Noble Mars (horse, 5)

Hiroshi Miyamoto, trainer
“I’d had my hopes up for the Fukushima Mimpo Hai three starts ago and because he’d kept up with the high pace, he didn’t have enough for the finish. And as for his two seconds in his last two starts, I think it’s not so much the course as it is the fact that he was able to run at his own pace, and that tied in to a good race. He worked on the hill course on June 13. We pushed him in the final stages and I think he has improved. He’s had four races since March but he’s not showing signs of fatigue in his hindquarters. He’s matured quite a bit. He wasn’t able to lead in the Mita Tokubetsu last year, but he still won. Seeing that, I figured the Hanshin 2,200 wouldn’t be a problem. I’m not concerned about what position he gets, but rather if he can maintain his own pace. If he can, I think he’ll have something left for the finish.”

Nikkei Shinshun Hai (G2)
Perform a Promise

Perform a Promise (horse, 6)

Nobuyuki Tashiro, assistant trainer
“He was sent forward in the Meguro Kinen and got a good position and he looked to be running settled and in tune with the rider. I think his third-place finish could be attributed to it being his first race in a while and due to his assigned weight. But, overall, it wasn’t a bad race. He came out of that race well and recovered quickly. He worked on the flat woodchip course with another horse on June 13 and clocked in the 79-second range. He ran solidly to the end. He looks to have improved quite a bit. He is stronger all around and he’s now able to handle the work we have planned for him. He’s an easy horse to ride and has good racing sense. He shouldn’t have a problem with the inner course and a track that’s somewhat rain-affected won’t pose a problem either.”

Saimon Ramesses (horse, 8)

Tomoyuki Umeda, trainer
“Nothing about him has actually changed, neither his body nor his movement, but when he took the lead three starts ago and won, I was quite surprised. It looks like jockey Futoshi Komaki has got a good handle on him. The strategy seemed to suit his racing style and it looks like he and the rider are well-suited to each other. Before his last race, because he had just run the following week, I started him training on the Wednesday before the race. His weight was down about 10kg, which could be expected. This time, I think his weight will be back up. As usual, he doesn’t run very well in training, but he is doing well and things have gone as planned. Just a month ago he was still racing in the three-win class but I’m not nervous about it being a Grade 1. I’m going in to it nice and relaxed. And because he’s not of the same calibre as the others, I think they’ll easily give him the lead.”

Takarazuka Kinen (G1)
Satono Crown

Satono Crown (horse, 6)

Kazutomo Mori, assistant trainer
“I can’t exactly point my finger on why he did poorly in the Dubai Sheema Classic, but if I were to say one thing, I’d have to say that him being tense before the race probably didn’t help. And like his first time to Hong Kong, he did acclimatize well, so likely the same thing happened with Dubai. And the climate may also have played a role. After returning to the training center, we thought he may have some fatigue that we couldn’t see, so we took very good care of him. On June 7, his breathing still wasn’t good and his heart wasn’t in his work yet either. But with a workout on June 14 and then one just before the race, I think he’ll be in good shape. The venue is the best one for this horse, but this year I felt some difficulty getting him ready after the overseas trip. Here’s hoping he can be in good shape on raceday.”

Arima Kinen (The Grand Prix) (G1)
Satono Diamond

Satono Diamond (horse, 5)

Christophe Lemaire, jockey
“His workout this week went very well and he looks to be in good shape. His responses in the stretch were good and so was his footwork. He has improved from the Naruo Kinen. He ran a good race there but since he was coming off a layoff it did take some time to get his engine revved. He had it going over the last 200 meters and really ran well. Unfortunately, he had lost some ground coming into the stretch so he had to go all out to win. In this week’s workout, the horse he was training with was slow, but Satono Diamond took the bit himself and accelerated. I think this shows what good shape he’s in. He has a strong back and strong heart and he can race at speed for quite some distance. His footwork is also excellent and he always gives it his best. I think the outer course is better for him, but he can win on the inner one. The distance is perfect for him but he will need a smooth trip. He’s a big horse so a heavy track would be difficult for him and that is a worry.”

Tanabata Sho (G3)

Seewind (horse, 5)

Tetsuya Kimura, trainer
“It’s his third race after being sidelined with a fracture and I’ve wanted to get him back to his best. About this time last year, he won the Grade 3 Tanabata Sho and I think he’s finally back to where he was then. Of course, we won’t know if he is until we see his performance on Sunday, but from the way he carries himself and this week’s fast work, I think he has improved. He always gives it his all in a race, but the timing was never right to race him in a top-level race. He’s a straightforward, honest horse. As for the new jockey, Kenichi Ikezoe wanted very much to ride morning work, but the staff does a lot of fine-tuning and I didn’t want to disrupt the flow of things, so we rode work. As for the trip to the track, he did well going to Fukushima, so things should be OK, but when he rode in the van only 90 minutes to Nakayama he lost a lot of weight, so you’ll have to ask the horse.”

Kyoto Daishoten (G2)
Smart Layer

Smart Layer (mare, 8)

Ryuji Okubo, trainer
“After the Tenno Sho (Spring), I gave her some time off to refresh and she looks good. This will be her third time to run in the Takarazuka Kinen. Her skin is thinner and her muscle tone is looking very good. At the time of the Osaka Hai, I hadn’t thought she was in bad shape, but now I think that she hadn’t been quite ready. But her movement is better now and when she works up the hill course she accelerates nicely and when she’s asked to quicken even more, she does and is very forward. The conditions in the Osaka Hai weren’t bad, but her responses at the critical stage of the race weren’t quite right. The Tenno Sho (Spring) run wasn’t bad but I think the distance was too long. I think everything is coming together this time and I’m hoping she can show everyone that an 8-year-old still has a lot to give.”

Saudi Arabia Royal Cup Fuji Stakes (G3)

Staphanos (horse, 7)

Nobuyuki Tashiro, assistant trainer
“Last out in the Niigata Daishoten the pace was very slow in the first half. It came down to a speed race over the final 3 furlongs and with him coming off a layoff, he just couldn’t keep up. So, he wasn’t able to run his kind of race. We kept him at the training center after that to get him ready for here and he’s gotten a lot of work. Last week in his fast workout, he got a good time even though he did run toward the inside. With that last start his muscle tone has really improved. You wouldn’t think he was 7 years old. He has no trouble settling, so he should be able to handle the 2,200 meters and the change in course is a plus. He surely has enough power to do reasonably well and if he can access all he has he should do even better.”

Naruo Kinen (G3)
Strong Titan

Strong Titan (horse, 5)

Yasutoshi Ikee, trainer
“When racing on the inside, he would tend to take a breather but this last time, in the Naruo Kinen, he was different and won it. I think the cheek pieces and head cover he was wearing helped. He gets better as the weather warms ups and it looks like he’ll be showing even more improvement this time out. He is basically suited better to a fast track and I would like him to have one on Sunday. I’ve always thought he had the ability to take on a Grade 1 race and here we finally are. I’m looking forward to seeing just how well he can do.”

Niigata Kinen (G3)
Tatsu Gogeki

Tatsu Gogeki (horse, 6)

Ippo Sameshima, trainer
“For the Naruo Kinen, he was coming off a layoff and he was tensed up in the gate. He missed the break and he was keen under way and had nothing left in the end. Last week, he worked up the hill course with the focus on the final stage and clocked 12.5 seconds over the last lap. Since returning to the track, I’ve only worked him up the hill, but I do think he’s looking good. His hindquarters are well-muscled and he’s had no leg or hoof problems. It’s a Grade 1 race and the lineup will be much stronger, but he is stronger as well. He has always traveled well and I’m hoping he can run his own race.”

Shuka Sho (G1)

Vivlos (mare, 5)

Yasuo Tomomichi, trainer
“She came back from the farm looking quite filled out. Last week she worked in a trio over the flat on woodchips and we pushed her hard. Her movement was good. Last year in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup she didn’t quicken as much as I would have liked after the jockey gave her the go sign, but I think she can handle the distance. Last year she went abroad for the first time and after returning from Dubai, I thought she would be tired so I had decided to give her the entire spring off. When she came back to Japan though, she was in pretty good shape, so with that in mind, this year I thought I could run her in the Takarazuka Kinen. She was in even better shape this year after Dubai than she’d been last year, so it was decided. After quarantine, I watched her for about a week and she looked good, even better than I’d expected. On June 13, I had the jockey ride work on the flat in a trio of horses and she got a good hard workout. I think you can say that she’s in great shape. This week, taking the track surface into consideration, I decided to just breeze her up the hill course and get her switched into racing mode. She has matured a lot. Especially her legs and back have gotten longer. As for the surface, a bit of rain and a bit of spring to the track should be fine.”


Sources: Keiba Book, Netkeiba, Daily Sports, Keibalab, Radio Nikkei, Nikkan Sports

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