2018 News

December 21, 2018


Arima Kinen (The Grand Prix) (G1) - Comments from runners' connections
Niigata Kinen (G3)
Blast Onepiece

Blast Onepiece (colt, 3)

Masahiro Otake, trainer
“The pace of the Kikuka Sho (Japanese St. Leger) was unusually slow, much slower than what we’ve seen in recent years. It all came down to the late speed. He started his final spurt from about the 3-furlong mark and ran up the far outside so it was a bit tough in the end. But because of the slow pace, he came out of the race well. We sent him to Northern Farm Tenei for a bit to get ready. He’s always had some back pain and this time he came back with nearly no pain, so we were able to work him harder than we usually would. The jockey pushed him hard last week and normally we would just breeze him this week, but I asked him to push him hard again this week. He worked in tandem and I had another horse run ahead at a strong pace because I wanted to see how this one’s movement was and I think it was good. The jockey too thought that the horse has gained muscle and is stronger. Even though the horse is based at Miho, it’s his first run at Nakayama. I’ve raced him mostly at Tokyo, but this was the rotation this time so we won’t know until we try it to see how he’ll handle the track.”

Japan Cup (International Invitational) (G1)
Cheval Grand

Cheval Grand (horse, 6)

Yasuo Tomomichi, trainer
“There hasn’t been that much time between races and we gave him a good hard workout last week and he’s ready. This week (Dec. 19) Hugh Bowman rode him for the first time since the spring and I just wanted him to see how the horse felt and to check his responses. He always looks good in morning work, but even so, I think his responses were especially sharp. I was concerned about how he’d come out of the Japan Cup but he seemed well enough. He’s 6 years old now but he’s had one less race this year compared to last. I think he’s fresh. Last year he had interference in the straight, but managed to rally and make third place. I talked to Bowman afterward and he felt the Tokyo course suited the horse better, with his big movement. With that in mind, I’m hoping for a better ride this year. Bowman urges him on well and I think he is the best matched jockey to this horse. As for the track, the horse prefers pretty fast going over slower. There are six turns in the 2,500m. I’m hoping for a ground-saving trip close to the pace.

Kyoto Kinen (G2)

Clincher (colt, 4)

Hiroshi Miyamoto, trainer
“He went through quarantine at Daisen Hills after returning from France and then came back to Ritto in mid-November. All is well and with an eye to this race, he’s gotten quite a bit of work. He and (jockey) Yuichi Fukunaga worked very well together on Dec. 12 on the flat and though he doesn’t have the best kick, he can run at a good speed over distance. I think the jockey has gotten a good handle on this horse. And I had Fukunaga ride him for fast work this week as well. I think the Nakayama 2,500m will suit his running style and rain wouldn’t be a problem. In fact, I think it would be a plus. He does better in the cold weather than in the hot and if he can run his own race I’m sure he has a chance.”

Kikuka Sho (G1)

Kiseki (colt, 4)

Yuga Kawada, jockey
“For the Japan Cup, I rode to try to bring out this horse’s best. Almond Eye was just too good, but this horse did put a lot of distance between him and the others. Of course, my biggest concern was how much that race took out of him, but stable-side, they say there is nothing to worry about. I haven’t ridden work this time but since they’re saying he’s in good shape, I think there’s no need to worry. The draw for the Arima Kinen does make a difference but I don’t think the Nakayama 2,500m is a minus for this horse. I plan to ride with confidence. I’ve always thought this horse had a lot of potential and but when I first rode him in the spring of 2017, he wasn’t physically ready yet. This year, from the fall, he’s now able to bring out that potential and his racing has been stupendous. He’s definitely at his best.

Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby) (G1)

Makahiki (horse, 5)

Yasuo Tomomichi, trainer
“After the Tenno Sho (Autumn), he’d been getting regular work and working at a 15-15 pace at least once a week but he just wasn’t looking on his game and he wasn’t able to extend his right shoulder well. I didn’t want to overdo it so I withdrew him from the Japan Cup and got him ready for the Arima Kinen. Fatigue from the Tenno Sho and the 12-kg drop on the day gave us some concern and that surely was a part of it but this time his weight is back up. (Jockey) Yasunari Iwata will be in the saddle this time. On Dec. 13, he clocked 53.8 seconds up the hill with a last furlong time of 12.2 seconds. He looked good and he’s using his right shoulder better than before. The horse has gotten more sluggish with age and I think this distance will suit him better than 2,000 meters. Withdrawing from the Japan Cup didn’t affect him negatively and I’m looking forward to seeing some good characteristic racing from him.”

Mikki Rocket
Mikki Rocket

Mikki Rocket (horse, 5)

Hidetaka Otonashi, trainer
“I actually had wanted to give him a 2,400-meter run but he was slow coming up to peak and I couldn’t race him in the Kyoto Daishoten, so his first start after the summer was the 2,000-meter Tenno Sho (Autumn). The late speed made it a tough race. He was sore after that so we sat out the Japan Cup and I first exercised him in the pool for the first week of training and then under saddle. Last week he worked in tandem and his time was good. This week the jockey was up and his movement was good. He’s back to where he was for the Takarazuka Kinen. He ran nice and straight too. I think the 2,500m is just right for him. The Tenno Sho (Autumn) was too busy for this horse, but this time the conditions are good. I hope the race unfolds to his liking.”

Asahi Hai St. Lite Kinen (Japanese St. Leger Trial) (G2)
Mikki Swallow

Mikki Swallow (colt, 4)

Takanori Kikuzawa, trainer
“He’s not that bad of a starter, but for some reason he needs time to get running from the gate and ends up racing from behind. He does have good late speed though. He came out of the Japan Cup well and I kept him at Miho to get ready for the Arima Kinen. (Jockey) Norihiro Yokoyama rode him in work last week and we had this horse run up to two others and line up with them in the finish. It was good work and he has improved with the sharpener. He can’t pick it up straight out of the gate because he’s not that strong yet. His best is still to come but he has won handily at Nakayama. This week in fast work, he used his body well and ran solidly when he lined up with the other horse, though he did lose concentration when he pulled away as usual. He is a bit weak in certain areas and I think he will improve but he’s in good shape now and I’m sending him to the gate with confidence.”

Queen Elizabeth II Cup (G1)
Mozu Katchan

Mozu Katchan (filly, 4)

Ippo Sameshima, trainer
“Going into the stretch in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup, she unfortunately got boxed in a bit. I would have liked for her to have made her move a little bit earlier. All has gone well since then. She clocked 52.3 seconds up the hill last week. The ground wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, so I think the time she got was to be expected and she finished well. Her last furlong was in 12.3 seconds and she looks like she’ll show improvement. She ran a fever before her last scheduled race, so I had to withdraw her from the race I had planned for her to run in. She was in good shape but there was more time between races than I would have liked and that too may have had an effect. Things have gone as expected this time and her rotation is as I wanted it. There are no special concerns with the Nakayama 2,500m. She’ll be up against male horses, but if she’s able to run her own race I think she’ll measure up.”

Nakayama Grand Jump (J-G1)
Oju Chosan

Oju Chosan (horse, 7)

Shoichiro Wada, trainer
“He was running well in the Nanbu Tokubetsu last out and when the pace picked up turning out of the backstretch he stayed relaxed and patient and then gave it everything in the stretch. I think it was an excellent winning style. On Dec. 12 he worked with another horse on the woodchip course. He was very switched on and his muscle tone looks good. The level of competition is going to be different from what he’s had before and the difference in speed is going to be quite different. But he does look to be used to running on the flat and improvement is likely, so his time should be better too.”

Yutaka Take, jockey
“The Arima Kinen is a special race and Oju Chosan is a very popular horse. We’re in the spotlight, but it’s quite a different feeling from the spotlight on Kitasan Black last year. When I first rode this horse at Fukushima, my first impression was that he was special. I’ve ridden a lot of horses but to be riding him for the last Arima Kinen of the Heisi Era is a strange feeling. I do feel as if the fans’ dreams are on our backs. His strong point is his stamina and I hope the race will bring that out to the best.”

Copa Republica Argentina (G2)
Perform a Promise

Perform a Promise (horse, 6)

Nobuyuki Tashiro, assistant trainer
“The jockey gave him an excellent ride in the Copa Republica Argentina. He and the rider were very well in tune and he covered the last 3 furlongs in 32.6 seconds. I have the feeling that he still has a lot where that came from. He went to the farm for a short spell, and came back to the training center with this race as his target. He worked fast on the woodchip flat course last week and looked good clocking 12.0 seconds over the last furlong. Most importantly he looks really on his game. He’s only raced once at Nakayama but it was a good race and I think the track suits him. He’s had sufficient time between races and I think he’s sufficiently strong.”

Tenno Sho (Autumn) (G1)
Rey de Oro

Rey de Oro (colt, 4)

Christophe Lemaire, jockey
“He had a really good workout today (Dec. 19) training in a group of three and he quickened nicely in the finish. It was a good piece of work. The change of venues should be OK. He has won three times at Nakayama, so I’m not worried. I think he likes the track. Nakayama calls for a smooth trip. The stretch is a bit short and you need to be in a good position coming out of the backstretch. If you draw too wide, it makes for a very tough race, but if the pace is slow, an inside gate would be tough too. I think a middle draw is the best. This horse is really good at maintaining a steady pace. He doesn’t have the best kick but he can race well over distance. Even amid a fast pace, he can maintain it. Almond Eye is like a Ferrari, but this horse is like a Land Rover. He’s strong and he can keep giving you more in the stretch. He’s like a fast four-wheel drive.”

Sports Nippon Sho Stayers Stakes (G2)
Ridge Man

Ridge Man (horse, 5)

Yasushi Shono, trainer
“The jockey gave him a very good ride last out in the Stayers Stakes and I think you could say it was a hands-down win. He has gotten calmer with age and his earlier problems with the bit are gone. He’s able to settle well over long distances. He was tired after the Stayers, so I waited to see how he was before deciding to bring him here and then clocked him on Dec. 12. He ran without urging and his movement was fair. I think he’s very well suited to the Nakayama 2,500m, which calls for stamina. I hope it doesn’t come down to who has the best late speed. If the pace is good, it’ll be good if he just runs his usual race. I don’t know, however, if he’ll be able to run his usual race amid a totally different class of horses.”

Sakura Empereur
Sakura Empereur

Sakura Empereur (horse, 7)

Takashi Kanari, trainer
“I think he gave us a good solid race in the Tenno Sho (Autumn). It wasn’t his best course and the race didn’t unfold that much to his liking but even so, he quickened well. He’s had the same rotation this year as he did last. This year I’ve focused on hill work. Everything has gone well. Last year, if he hadn’t had the interference, I think he may have well made the board. Unlike last year, he’s mentally much more mature and I’m able to give him the work I want to. I’m looking forward to the race.”

Kyoto Daishoten (G2)
Satono Diamond

Satono Diamond (horse, 5)

Yasutoshi Ikee, trainer
“He has come along as planned. I was worried about the fast time in the Japan Cup, but he came out of the race well and he’s been able to maintain his condition. There are a lot of memories connected to the Arima Kinen with him. He won it two years ago, and it felt like his best was still ahead of him. He’s been a very special presence in the stable. He’s given it his all and my wish is for him to come out of this race OK. His fast work on Dec. 13 looked sufficient and we pushed him hard on Dec. 19 as well. I think his movement is better than it was for the Japan Cup. He has a new jockey (Brenton Avdulla) but he’s not the type of horse that is affected by a change of riders. I think the Nakayama 2,500m is a whole lot better than the Tokyo 2,400m for him. He is agile and confident. It’s a difficult course, but he has the technique needed.”

Kyoto Daishoten (G2)
Smart Layer

Smart Layer (mare, 8)

Ryuji Okubo, trainer
“In the Queen Ellzabeth II Cup, the frontrunner finished in second place and overall, there was no stopping those in front. With her running from the back, it was a tough race. She did run well for her in the final stages but she had too much distance to make up. I gave her a bit of time off after and she has maintained her condition. She had fast workout on Dec. 13 and her movement was sufficient and her attitude wasn’t bad. She’s 8 years old, so I can’t say if she’s going to give us a great performance but she isn’t showing signs of age. She is more versatile than she used to, so we’ll just have to see how well she can do. There’s no need to hold back, so I’m hoping for a more aggressive run.”

Arima Kinen (The Grand Prix) (G1)
Sounds of Earth (Yello cap)

Sounds of Earth (horse, 7)

Kenichi Fujioka, trainer
“For the Japan Cup, he had improved a lot from the race prior, but the pace was just too fast and I had the feeling that he just couldn’t handle the way the race unfolded. It was also partly a mental thing. Everything has gone to plan since then. He wasn’t showing any signs of fatigue and he worked on the flat a week ago and his movement was good even though the going was bad. As usual, he’s not stiff and he has maintained his condition well. We have the long trip to the track this time so this week the jockey just breezed him. He finished second in the Arima Kinen in 2015 and, even though he had an outside course last year, he still looked good in the finish. It’s his last race and he’s in good shape so I’m hoping he’ll get a nice ground-saving trip.”


Sources: Keiba Book, Net Keiba

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