2019 News

March 29, 2019


Osaka Hai (G1) - Comments from runners' connections
Challenge Cup (G3)
Air Windsor

Air Windsor (horse, 5)

Yasuyuki Tsujino, assistant trainer
“In the Kinko Sho there were a lot of Grade 1 winners in the field, but he managed to finish in third place. I think it was a good race. He has always improved after a race and I think he will have this time as well. He didn’t lose muscle and he’s looking sharp. He has matured physically and he’s stronger mentally too and he comes out of races well. He’s looking very much like a son of King Kamehameha. This time the course is the same as the one he won a graded-stakes race on it shouldn’t be a minus factor. He no longer loses concentration when he gets out ahead alone. His dam Air Messiah was a G1 winner (the 2005 Shuka Sho) and I’m hoping he can win one too. I have my hopes up.”

Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas) (G1)
Al Ain

Al Ain (horse, 5)

Yasutoshi Ikee, trainer
“The ground in the Kinko Sho was shifty and made running difficult. His assigned weight was also higher than the top finishers. He was able to run his own race and I think he ran well. He does have a difficult side and, mentally, things won’t change this time, but I feel that he’ll show improvement. He worked on the hill course on March 21 at a 15-15 pace and since there are only two full weeks between races, I wasn’t looking to get a time. I think the work on the weekend and this week was enough. The Hanshin 2,000 is mostly a plus for him, but the biggest plus is that he has had a prep. He’ll race under the same weight this time and if the track is fast and it comes down to a speed race in the final stages, I think he’ll have a chance.”

Arima Kinen (The Grand Prix) (G1)
Blast Onepiece

Blast Onepiece (colt, 4)

Kenichi Ikezoe, jockey
“In his fast work on Wednesday we started in the backstretch working with two other horses and clocked him from the 5 furlong pole. He picked up the pace from the 3 furlong mark and he gained on the other. It was a solid workout. We had first warmed up on the dirt course and he was nice and calm. His footwork was smooth even warming up. I think he has really come along well. The stable picked up where the farm left off very nicely. Last week’s work and this week’s have been spot on. He has gotten leaner with each workout. And his back and hindquarters are strong. I think he’s just about in perfect shape. I don’t think Hanshin itself is any cause for concern but the change from the outer course to the inner for him is a factor. He’s big but he’s agile. I’m not too worried. He’s powerful so I think he can handle a track that’s a bit slow. Either fast or a bit slow is fine.”

Kyoto Kinen (G2)

Danburite (horse, 5)

Hidetaka Otonashi, trainer
“He doesn’t have the greatest acceleration so I had wanted him to make his move as early as possible in the Kyoto Kinen. And even though it hadn’t rained on raceday, the ground was moist and rather slow. I think that worked in his favor. He was able to hold his ground in the end, which may have been largely due to the other horses having been a bit compromised. We gave him a bit of time off, then brought him back to the training center with this race as our target. He looked good in fast work last week and it looks like he’s maintained his condition. The jockey has won three times in three starts with this horse and they look to be well-suited to each other. It’ll be tough for him to be highly competitive in this crowd but if it rains and the ground is slow, things may be different.”

Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas) (G1)
Epoca d'Oro

Epoca d'Oro (colt, 4)

Nobuyuki Tashiro, assistant trainer
“He ran in third position in his last start, the Nakayama Kinen and held his ground well until the final furlong, even though he was returning from a spell. He has matured and I think the distance was good for him too. He had about 10 days off and came back to the training center looking good. His fast work on March 20 was over the woodchips on the flat and he easily caught and passed the other horse. He moved solidly and the sharpener helped bring out his lightness of foot. This week’s workout should have him just ready. He has won a 2,000-meter race with four turns before, so the conditions are ideal. The shape of the course is similar to that of the Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas) so I think it should be easy for him. Of course the competition is strong, but I think he’ll be able to more than hold his own.”

Kikuka Sho (G1)

Kiseki (horse, 5)

Yuga Kawada, jockey
“I watched his track work on Wednesday and when he entered the track he was very calm and relaxed so I’d say mentally he’s in a good place. His movement and the amount of work looked good and I think he’ll go to the gate on Sunday in good shape. Last fall, he really raced well and was in great shape. In the Arima Kinen (The Grand Prix), he was a bit too relaxed in the gate and broke a bit slowly. He was a bit tense under way and I think that contributed to his fifth-place finish. But for him to have held his ground as long as he did just shows what a strong horse he is. For the Mainichi Okan, I was instructed to send him forward from the gate but in the Tenno Sho (Autumn) I felt that he would do better to lead and so that’s what we did for the Japan Cup and the Arima Kinen. I haven’t decided what I’ll do this time and have to discuss that with the trainer. As for the Hanshin 2,000, I don’t think he’ll have a problem with it.”

Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby) (G1)

Makahiki (horse, 6)

Yasuo Tomomichi, trainer
“He was third only 0.1 second off the winner in the Kyoto Kinen last outing but considering how strong he is, there’s still something lacking. I do think he’s finally getting back to where he was for the Sapporo Kinen last August. I’ve kept him at the training center since the Tenno Sho (Autumn) and I did the same after this last race too. If you push him he does too much, so I’ve tried not to overwork him. He trained on March 20 with another horse and we just pushed him enough to get him a bit switched on. It was enough and this week we pushed him pretty hard. I think 2,000 is his best distance and ideally we’ll have a fast track. He has power so he could handle a track with a bit of spring in it, that’s not a problem. I think he has a chance if he can run his own race.

Muito Obrigado (horse, 5)

Koichi Tsunoda, trainer
“He was perfect until the top of the stretch in the Kinko Sho and he handled his first 2,000-meter race well. When you consider that the track was soft and shifty, which he doesn’t like, it wasn’t a bad race. On March 22 he worked on the flat over distance and his movement was good and he ran solidly to the finish. His hooves and legs are in good shape and gave him a nice hard workout this week. He has maintained his good condition. The field of his last start was strong and this one will be even stronger. He has had good results racing to the left but the fact that he may have been a bit heavy coupled with the shifty ground may have hurt him. I don’t think he won’t be good racing to the right, but I do want him to have a fast track.”

Mile Championship (G1)
Persian Knight

Persian Knight (horse, 5)

Mirco Demuro, jockey
“He hasn’t been very lucky lately. In Hong Kong the track was fast but too hard and in the Kinko Sho, the track was too slow. He’s never been good over a slow track. The Chukyo 2,000 wasn’t a problem but he has never been good immediately after a layoff. He gets better for the next race. So, I’m not concerned about his results there. He’s a good horse but the race didn’t unfold to his liking. The pace was slow and everything came down to the end. He’s matured a bit now. The Hong Kong Mile was a bit too busy for him, but he was second in this race last year, so the distance is not a problem. I’d like to have him in a good position at the top of the stretch of course, on the inside. I think he could make it from there. I don’t think the track condition is too bad. There’s still grass on the inside and it doesn’t look like it’ll rain this week. That’s the most important. He’s a strong horse with a good kick. He’s talented and I’m confident of him. He’s pretty good at the start so I’m not too concerned about the draw. The far outside would be tough.”

Kyoto Shimbun Hai (G2)
Stay Foolish

Stay Foolish (colt, 4)

Yusaku Oka, assistant trainer
“In the Kyoto Kinen, he was spooking at the break of the turf in spots and the neck difference between him and the winner may have also come down to him having been on the outside. Still, he got into position on his own and it was a strong race. He had time off after that and came back to the training center on March 9. He looked good. The jockey was up in track work last week and urged him on strongly just before the finish and the jockey rode again on Wednesday and did the same. This horse doesn’t need much work to get in shape and things have gone well. He’s had regular races and the inside 2,000 suits him. Hopefully, he’ll have a good trip.”

Mile Championship (G1)

Stelvio (colt, 4)

Genki Maruyama, jockey
“He was able to run his own race in the Nakayama Kinen last out and considering that it was after a layoff, I think he did well. I’m not too concerned about the Hanshin course. But, with the distance at 2,000 meters, I do think that it will be important to have a ground-saving trip and I’m hoping for an inside draw. I’ll be checking out the ground over the weekend, but he was fine over the somewhat rough ground last time so I think he’ll be OK. It’s not something I’m worried about. When I first got the offer to ride Stelvio, I thought there’d been a mistake. It’s really fantastic to have this opportunity. He has a chance and I really want him to get good results.”

Kokura Daishoten (G3)

Stiffelio (horse, 5)

Hidetaka Otonashi, trainer
“He was returning from a layoff for the Kokura Daishoten and he was carrying a bit of weight. To be honest, I was pretty worried. The jockey was using his whip before they turned into the stretch. It’s something that he was able to win. I kept him at the stable after that to get him ready slowly. This race was the target and he has gotten a lot of work. He worked up the hill with Danburite on March 20 and we pushed Stiffelio from the start and he was tiring at the end. The other horse can move but there was also the difference in the weight of the rider. He has gotten better in work and I do feel that he has gotten stronger.

Sapporo Kinen (G2)

Sungrazer (horse, 5)

Keiichi Asami, assistant trainer
“After returning from Hong Kong, he spelled at Yamamoto Training Center and when he got back to the training center he looked really god. This time his weight was up to about 510 kg and it was easy to get him ready from there. I tried working him at length on the flat and his final kick was good as usual. Everything has been going well. He needed just a little more in the Tenno Sho (Autumn) and the competition in Hong Kong was really tough. Even so, he looked good. Last year, it looks like he has come into himself more. I think the softer track of Hanshin will be better than the very fast surface in Hong Kong. He’s not keen as he used to be, so he can handle 2,000 meters now. The field is a strong one but he’s the kind that does well coming directly off a layoff. I think he has a chance.”

Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby) (G1)

Wagnerian (colt, 4)

Yuichi Fukunaga, jockey
“I had heard that his weight was up considerably, and when I rode him in track work on March 20, he seemed very powerful to me. We worked on the turf grass and I had him wait behind the other horse until we turned into the stretch. He was much more eager to run than he used to be, much more forward. I think he’s very fresh. He’s had a lot of work and he did feel good last week. His breathing wasn’t bad and I think he’ll move well. I wasn’t able to ride him last fall because I was injured but Kota Fujioka did a very nice job for a solid win of the Kobe Shimbun Hai. After that race it was difficult for this horse to recover so they decided not to overdo it. And that decision has helped get him fresh and ready to win another big title. He has sprinter blood on his dam’s side. With him having matured more, we’ll see how he’ll do at 2,000 meters now. The Hanshin 2,000 is a difficult course, especially the inner course. I don’t think it’s easy for horses that race just off the pace. It won’t be easy amid these members but I’ll do my best to get good results.”


Sources: Keiba Book, Netkeiba.com

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