2015 News

December 15, 2015


2015 Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes (G1) - Preview

Following hot on the heels of Major Emblem’s win in the Hanshin Juvenile Fillies last Sunday, this week sees the 2-year-old colts do battle at the same venue in the 67th running of the Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes on Sunday, December 20. There are 19 nominations for the mile contest, all colts, with the exception of the one filly on the list, Copano Deal. The race found a new home at the Hanshin Racecourse just last year, prior to which Nakayama was the track where the 2-year-old colts traditionally did battle.

Lead up races to this year’s Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes include the Grade 2 Daily Hai Nisai Stakes, the listed Saudi Arabia Royal Cup, and the Grade 2 Keio Hai Nisai Stakes, and these races were all run in October or November. In the last 10 years, three first favourites have won, including last year when Danon Platina took the honours. Of the other seven races for the decade, six have been won by the second, third, fourth or fifth favourite, proving the recent dominance of the market leaders. The race has thrown up some winners that have gone on to bigger and better things, including Rose Kingdom (2009) and Logotype (2012).  It’s also been a rich hunting ground for overseas jockeys, who have won four times in the past ten years.

There is a 70 million yen check to the winner, and the race record time is held by Meiner Recolte who won in a time of 1 minute, 33.4 seconds at Nakayama in 2004. The colts carry a set weight of 55 kgs, with a 1 kg allowance for fillies. The race will be race 11 on the card on Sunday, with a post time of 3.40pm Japan time.

Here’s a look at some of the runners expected to be in the line-up:

Daily Hai Nisai Stakes (G2)
Air Spinel
Air Spinel - This impeccably bred colt is by King Kamehameha, out of the Sunday Silence mare, Air Messiah, who won the Grade 1 Shuka Sho in 2005. It is two wins from two starts for Air Spinel, and his latest win was in the Grade 2 Daily Hai Nisai Stakes over 1600 meters at Kyoto in November. On rain affected ground, he ran out a 3 1/2 length winner with a last three furlong time of 34.0 seconds, and both trainer Kazuhide Sasada and jockey Yutaka Take think he is a horse with a future. Take said, “He’s still a baby, but he sure can run, and he runs nice and straight. Regarding distance, he appears flexible too. After winning on his debut, with a performance like that I was confident in the Daily Hai. He seems very strong.” Take is looking for his first win in the race. Air Spinel has been relaxed, and reportedly working well when put through his recent training.

Keio Hai Nisai Stakes (G2)
Ball Lightning
Ball Lightning - A chestnut colt by Daiwa Major, Ball Lightning is another unbeaten runner who has his connections thinking about next year’s Classics. The horse is coming off a gutsy win in the Grade 2 Keio Hai Nisai Stakes over 1400 meters at Tokyo in November. After that race, jockey Masayoshi Ebina commented: “I didn’t particularly want to have him going forward so soon, but he just ended up running his own race and finding more and more right to the line when I asked him.” The Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes is now the target, but Ebina thinks the horse ‘can get 2000 meters no problem’.  Trainer Hiroshi Miyamoto is hoping Ball Lightning can provide him with his first Grade 1 prize in twelve years as a trainer.

Admire  Morale
Admire Morale
Admire Morale - The Northern Farm bred Admire Morale will be taking on the Hanshin course for the first time, but won over a mile at Nakayama in September. On his latest start, he finished second to Ball Lightning. His trainer, Hiroyuki Uehara, could be doubly represented in the race. Of Admire Morale, he said, “This is his target, and everything’s been going well. He was third in his debut, then second in his second race, and racing on the outside he just didn’t run on enough. He can be slow to pick up, but has gotten better and he does have ability.” Jockey Hironobu Tanabe commented: “It’s just a short while since his last race, but he has picked up. He has a tendency to hang right, but this is being corrected. A week ago he ran well, and it’s important for his breathing to be good and get into the flow of things. His cornering to the right was smooth. He doesn’t necessarily need a fast pace.”

Shonan  Rise
Shonan Rise
Shonan Rise - The other possible runner from Hiroyuki Uehara’s stable, the Daiwa Major colt is two wins and one second from three starts. All his races have been over 1400 meters, and he’s coming off a win in the Kurumi Sho at Tokyo in October. Jockey Kenichi Ikezoe has been working the horse in training and said: “In his last race, he ran freely in the beginning, but just before the third corner he took the bit properly, and from then on ran a good race to go on and win. Today (December 9) we worked on improving this, and working with another horse, he picked up speed well after being waited with. So in training, we’re trying to get him to run as smooth as possible, and this is the instruction from the trainer.”

Leontes - A half brother to Epiphaneia, this colt has just had the one run and won over 2000 meters at Kyoto in November. He is trained by Katsuhiko Sumii, who sent out Sambista to win the Champions Cup earlier this month. The horse has been working with stablemate Red Kaiser on the woodchip course recently, and assistant trainer, Norihiko Kishimoto, is pleased with his training. “I think he can run well given his condition, however the race turns out,” he said.

Immortal - Another trainer who could have two runners in the race is Naosuke Sugai, and Immortal is one of them. The Manhattan Cafe colt won on his debut over 1800 meters at Niigata in August, and was then second in the Saudi Arabia Royal Cup at Tokyo in October. The trainer commented: “With jockey Ryan Moore, we looked at the horse’s last race and thought that rather than take on the Hopeful Stakes at the tight Nakayama course, the outer course at Hanshin with the longer home straight would be more suitable, so we’re giving it a go here.”

Kokura Nisai Stakes (G3)
Shuji - A bay colt by Kinshasa no Kiseki, he is three wins from four starts, and his only defeat has come at the hands of Air Spinel. He won the Grade 3 Kokura Nisai Stakes in September, and is trained by Kojiro Hashiguchi. Partnered by jockey Yasunari Iwata, the rider had the following to say about the colt: “He’s still a young horse, and in his last race there wasn’t a horse to take up the lead, so I sent him to the front and we ended up second. He has plenty of ability though.”

Love and Pop
Love and Pop

Note: Love and Pop will not run in this race.

Love and Pop - Bred by Darley Japan K.K., this bay colt by Admire Moon won on his debut over 1600 meters at Chukyo in July on yielding ground, and was fourth on his latest start in the Grade 3 Sapporo Nisai Stakes in September over 1800 meters. He looks versatile enough, is trained by Takayuki Yasuda, and runs in the all famous silks of owner Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

Shadow Approach
Shadow Approach
Shadow Approach - Trainer Naosuke Sugai’s other possible runner is Shadow Approach.  The colt by Jungle Pocket has always finished in the first three in four starts, and has two career wins. He’s never raced beyond 1400 meters, and is usually kept well up with the pace in his races. In his last race, he finished third to Ball Lightning.

Source (comments): Nikkan Sports and Net Keiba


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