2015 Tokyo Daishoten (G1) - Preview
Many people believe the JRA grand finale Arima Kinen is the last Grade 1 event of the year. It’s not. Two days after the lights go down at Nakayama, top-level action is under way again, with the 61st running of the Tokyo Daishoten at Ohi Racecourse. Late Tuesday afternoon, the competition will be just as heated as it is at any of the bigger venues, as six of the Japan Racing Association’s best dirt horses go up against eight of the best the National Association of Racing has to offer.
The international Tokyo Daishoten, with a winner’s prize of 80 million yen, is Japan’s only international race organized not by the Japan Racing Association, but by a local government on the NAR circuit. Currently open to 3-year-olds and up from both the NAR and JRA circuits, as well as foreign-based runners, the Daishoten is run over 2,000 meters of dirt at the right-handed Ohi venue. The conditions are considered by many to be the toughest Ohi has to offer.
This year’s standouts present a well-rounded and exciting mix from all fronts –both JRA training centers Miho and Ritto and local Ohi talent. Here’s a look at the expected top picks.
Hokko Tarumae – The 6-year-old Ritto-based son of King Kamehameha is eyeing his 10th top-class race win and a record third successive win of the Tokyo Daishoten. Hokko Tarumae missed the winner’s circle on his last two tries, however, and some believe his hold on another Daishoten victory is not all that secure. Others say there’s no need to worry. Last out, he targeted his second win in a row of the Champions Cup, but finished fifth. Before that he ran third in the JBC Classic, where he failed to top a perfect high-paced wire-to-wire run by Copano Rickey. Trainer Katsuichi Nishiura says training has been going well. “We pushed him hard in fast work on Dec. 25 and I’m expecting him to go to the gate in top shape.” Hokko Tarumae is back for his third race following a layoff and is at his favorite conditions again, the Ohi 2,000. Three may be a charm.
Sound True – A 5-year-old by French Deputy, Sound True clinched third in the Champions Cup following a furious stretch battle. He was less than 2 lengths off the winner and, had he not been forced to move to the far outside to find running room, he may have finished even closer. Sound True topped Copano Rickey in the Nippon TV Hai and Hokko Tarumae in the JBC Classic. Miho’s Noboru Takagi says, “He came out of that race well and has maintained good condition. Races at Ohi tend to fan out more and I think the course suits him.” This is Sound True’s second run at Ohi.
Copano Rickey – Following his wire-to-wire win of the JBC Classic, the Gold Allure-sired Copano Rickey went quickly to the front again next out in the Champions Cup. He clocked 10.7 seconds over his second furlong and marked the first kilometer in 60.2, but the high pace worked against him and those coming from off the pace swept the top four spots. The Ritto-based 5-year-old Rickey crossed the line in seventh place. Copano Rickey is expected to lead this time as well, but with a slower pace likely, he should be able to finish closer to the top.
Happy Sprint – Happy Sprint, a 4-year-old colt by Ammirare, is the great hope of Ohi. Trained by Junpei Morishita, Happy Sprint captured the Urawa Kinen (2,000) last out, giving him his first win since the Tokyo Derby. He is now nine for 20. Fourth in the Daishoten last year, Happy Sprint has also notched two thirds this year in the Kashiwa Kinen and the Teio Sho, both top-class races open to JRA-registered runners as well. Though he has won at it, the Ohi 2,000 may be a bit long for Happy Sprint, but his current condition and youth are factors in his favor. Morishita says, “He was tired after the Urawa Kinen but he recovered quickly and training has gone according to plan. He looks to be in even better shape now. The strong competition he has been up against has strengthened him.”
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Tokyo’s Ohi Racecourse is easily reached by monorail from the JR Hamamatsucho Station and is located 2 minutes from Ohi Keibajomae Station. It is also reachable by foot about 12 minutes from the Keihin Electric Express Railway Tachiaigawa Station. Shuttle buses will run between Ohi and JR Omori Station and JR Ohi-machi Station on raceday and free return buses from the track are available to JR Meguro Station via JR Shinagawa Station.
The Tokyo Daishoten is the 10th race on the Tuesday, Dec. 29 card of 12 races at Ohi. Post time is set for 4:30 p.m.
Tokyo Daishoten (G1)
Race Card (Japanese) http://www.nankankeiba.com/race_info/2015122920160210.do
Source (comments): Keiba Book
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Racing by Local Governments