2015 News

October 27, 2015


2015 Tenno Sho (Autumn) (G1) - Preview
Tenno Sho (Autumn) (G1)

The following are the early favorites for the 152nd Tenno Sho (Autumn) on Sunday at Tokyo Racecourse.

Twenty-one horses, 3-year-olds and up, have been nominated for a maximum field of 18 in the 2,000-meter race. The winner receives 150 million yen from a purse of 313 million yen. The draw is on Thursday with post time set for 3:40 p.m.

Mainichi Okan (G2)
A Shin Hikari
A SHIN HIKARI: It is a tall order to go wire-to-wire in the fall Tenno Sho but that's exactly what A Shin Hikari will attempt to do on Sunday, when the Deep Impact colt will make his Grade 1 debut. Yutaka Take's mount improved to 8-for-9 for his career after running away with the 1,800-meter Mainichi Okan earlier this month, holding off an impressive field including several Tenno Sho-bound runners to win by a length and a quarter. And the Masanori Sakaguchi-trained A Shin Hikari isn't about to change tactics for this weekend even at the top level against a deep, close field that will prove to be a challenge for the punters. A Shin Hikari may even emerge as the morning-line favorite with the ever popular Take in the saddle but we're about to find out if the attention is merited or not. Either way, A Shin Hikari will be a player on Sunday. "He was able to run at a rhythm he liked, finished the race in 34 seconds. It was a good effort from him throughout," Sakaguchi said, looking back on the Mainichi Okan. "He was running in a straight line so I don't think we have to worry about left-handed courses any more. The field gets a lot stronger at the G1 level and the distance will stretch by 200 meters to 2,000 meters. Plus he's never run under 58 kg. The conditions won't be easy for him but we're just going to stick to our style. He's hard to control if there are horses in front of him but if he can grab the lead he will settle. He can be a bit rowdy when he makes his way to the actual course from the paddock but he is 3-for-3 at Tokyo. The track itself won't take anything away from him."

Chunichi Shimbun Hai (G3)
DECIPHER: The 6-year-old late bloomer proved his Sapporo Kinen victory, his second of the season after the Chunichi Shimbun Hai, was no flash in the pan by gaining on A Shin Hikari for second place in the Mainichi Okan. Decipher has had a strong track record at Tokyo, producing four of his eight wins at Fuchu, and is a perfect fit at 2,000 meters. With no horse head and shoulders above the rest, the Tenno Sho is the Deep Impact son’s best chance yet at G1 glory. “The pace was slow and I think the positioning during the trip and the slight timing of the release made all the difference in the end,” trainer Futoshi Kojima said. “Ideally, he likes to work his way up the field slowly. He took someone else’s whip in the nose but didn’t flinch and kept up when the others switched on. We didn’t have him in tip-top shape so the last performance gives us a lot to look forward to for this weekend. The Tenno Sho has been our target for this season from early on and everything’s gone according to plan so far. He’s a much stronger racehorse compared to last season so we’re expecting a lot from him.”

Isla Bonita
Isla Bonita
ISLA BONITA: Last season’s champion of the Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2,000 Guineas) and runner-up of the Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby) was not far off winning the Tenno Sho in the fall, taking only third to Spielberg. Isla Bonita struggled to get a race in during the spring, appearing only in the Nakayama Kinen (fifth) in March. Following the longest break of his career, the Hironori Kurita-trained colt came in third in the Mainichi Okan, showing signs of recapturing the form that made him a name in 2014. The Masayoshi Ebina-ridden Isla Bonita has an encouraging track record at Fuchu with four wins from eight starts, finishing under third only once in the Japan Cup last year. “It was the first time he had a layoff of seven-and-a-half months but he was fine in the workouts and we thought he was fit enough to race,” assistant trainer Ryoji Sato said. “Yet at the same time – and it’s hard to pinpoint what – we did feel like he was lacking something so we see the result in a fairly positive light given that he wasn’t exactly at his best. It will work to his favor if the pace picks up because he has an easier time settling. We expect a good run from him.”

Takarazuka Kinen (G1)
Lovely Day
LOVELY DAY: A good bet to be the betting favorite on the day of the race, Lovely Day has clearly come into his own this season with five graded wins from seven starts, including the Takarazuka Kinen, his first Grade 1 victory. The two races he lost were both marathons at 3,000 meters-plus - the Hanshin Daishoten and Tenno Sho (Spring) - and the fall Tenno Sho at 10 furlongs will be right in his comfort zone. The 5-year-old horse by King Kamehameha son out of Popcorn Jazz started the fall with a strong performance in the Oct. 12 Kyoto Daishoten, a run that trainer Yasutoshi Ikee says underlined his maturity as a racehorse. "Even when he took the lead in his last race, he was focused and finished strong," Ikee said. "He's more at ease than he used to be and that's a sign of his mental maturity. Physically, he's filled out and has added a lot more power. He's just evolved as a racehorse. The 2,000 meters is his best distance. Given the form he's in now, he can race from any position but with some good horses who like being toward the front I think he'll have an even easier time traveling. I'm looking forward to it."

Hochi Hai Yayoi Sho (Japanese 2,000 Guineas Trial) (G2)
Satono Crown
SATONO CROWN: Satono Crown was an impressive third in this year’s Derby, somewhat making up for a disappointing sixth-place outing in the Satsuki Sho for which he was the No. 1 choice. The Tenno Sho will be the first race since the Derby for trainer Noriyuki Hori’s colt, but he appears to be improving ever so slowly, according to assistant Atsunori Hashimoto. The potential is there for Satono Crown, by Marju out of Jioconda, to hold his own even against the bigger boys but regaining his fitness will be paramount. Even with Christophe Lemaire holding the reins, Satono Crown could be too big of a punt for this weekend but very intriguing for the Japan Cup. “It was always the plan to go straight into the Tenno Sho because we wanted to give him a nice, long break to completely get rid of the fatigue from the Derby,” Hashimoto said. “He’s still not as sharp as we were hoping he would be. He’s not short of the workload but he’s been slow to come around. For the Satsuki Sho and the Derby, you could see him improve with each session but he looks to be out of it at the moment for some reason. The winners of the Mainichi Okan and Kyoto Daishoten both looked strong and the field for this race is deep. It won’t be easy that’s for sure.”

Shonan Pandora
Shonan Pandora
SHONAN PANDORA: Last year's Shuka Sho winner proved her victory in the last leg of the filly's Triple Crown was of no fluke by finishing third to Lovely Day in the Takarazuka Kinen. Trainer Tomokazu Takano's 4-year-old, one of ten Deep Impact offspring nominated for this Tenno Sho, picked up where she left off in the spring with a resounding win in the Sankei Sho All Comers on Sept. 27, when Shonan Pandora came from behind to leave the highly regarded Nuovo Record in the dust. With jockey Kenichi Ikezoe convinced his partner's form continues to climb for this weekend, Shonan Pandora is angling to steal the show, appearing all but certain to give the boys a run for their money. "She was third in the Takarazuka Kinen but we always felt she could have made more of the talent she had," Takano said. "(The win in the All Comers) was the kind of performance we were expecting from her. The jockey has worked her himself and said she's gotten even better from her last start, which has been a good springboard for her. We just want her to go into the race fit and in one piece. She's been steady in the gate recently and we don't have to worry about her settling. She was a girl last season and now she's grown into a woman."

SPIELBERG: The 6-year-old broke into the elite circle of G1 winners in this race last year, when he came from behind to beat the likes of Gentildonna. Trainer Kazuo Fujisawa’s horse followed up the victory with a third-place finish in the Japan Cup and took his act to Ascot this season, taking sixth in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes in June. The Deep Impact son sputtered to 10th in the Mainichi Okan to start the autumn campaign but the Spielberg camp is confident of a turnaround, hopeful of repeating as champion at his favorite racetrack where he has won six of 12 starts. “We thought he was fit because he'd put in the work he needed to (for the Mainichi Okan), despite the race being his first race since he came back from the UK,” assistant trainer Daisuke Tsumagari said. “But when the race came around, he wasn't even a shadow of what he can be. The pace didn't suit him and as a result the race didn't unfold the way we had envisioned it. But even more, he didn't seem to be up for it. He'd caught his breath as soon as the race was over so clearly, he didn't run to his fullest. Getting the last race in has certainly helped his condition and we expect him to perform the way he's capable of performing.”

Source (comments): Keiba Book

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