2020 News

December 25, 2020


Arima Kinen (The Grand Prix) (G1) - Comments from runners' connections
Copa Republica Argentina (G2)

Authority (colt, 3)

Yu Ota, assistant trainer
“The Copa Republica Argentina was his first start after he recovered from a fracture. He hadn’t been taking the bit properly in morning work so I was worried. But the jockey put up with it and the horse ran well to the finish. He went to the farm after for a bit, returned to the training center and all has gone well. The race helped him let off some steam and he’s fine on the bit now and communicating well with the rider. It’s gotten cold out but he’s retained his muscle tone and the sheen on his coat. He’s experienced at Nakayama and gotten good results and last race he was able to handle the distance, so I don’t think there will be any problems. He was a bit tense in work last week and not that sharp, so this week we’ve been working on that.”

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

Babbitt (colt, 3)

Tamio Hamada, trainer
“The Kikuka Sho (Japanese St. Leger) was slow over the first half and it wasn’t easy to have the field come up so quickly. Still, he was strong enough to be at the front coming into the stretch. He went to the farm after that and when I went to see him two or three weeks later, he was well-recovered. Looking as he did, I decided it’d be fine to take him to the Arima Kinen. Since his legs had gotten stronger, I’d worked him on the flat before the Kikuka Sho but, looking at the results, that may not have worked in his favor. This time, I returned the focus to the hill course as I had when he won four races in a row. On Dec. 16, he clocked a bit slower than I’d anticipated but his movement wasn’t bad. He has won at Nakayama, but at 2,200 meters. The field is strong but if he can lead we’ll see how well he can hold his ground.”

American Jockey Club Cup (G2)
Blast Onepiece

Blast Onepiece (horse, 5)

Masahiro Otake, trainer
“He was in good shape for the Tenno Sho (Autumn) and I had thought he’d do better over the Tokyo 2,000 meters. He did try hard but he never took the reins the whole way. He had some time off at the farm as usual and then came back here with the Arima Kinen as our goal. Last week, jockey Takeshi Yokoyama, who’ll be up for the race, rode work. I don’t know if it’s his age, but the horse isn’t moving like he used to in morning work. He’s not in poor condition though, so he should be fine. He has won both times at Nakayama, the Arima Kinen and the American Jockey Club Cup. And, the jockey is full of spirit, so I’m hoping together they’ll be able to do well.”

Takarazuka Kinen (G1)
Chrono Genesis

Chrono Genesis (filly, 4)

Yuichi Kitamura, jockey
“This week in work she felt as she always does. I think she has maintained her condition. I wasn’t given any particular instructions other than to watch the horse ahead and keep her going nicely balanced. She’s well-prepared. In the Tenno Sho (Autumn), she was a bit slow at the start and I couldn’t get the position I’d wanted but she settled well amid the slow pace and showed good acceleration in chasing Almond Eye. I think we saw her top work. Mentally, she has become very calm. Physically, she has shown huge improvement from the begin of this year and that has helped her maintain her physical condition. I’m hoping we’ll start well, and at 2,500 meters, I’ll have to keep her well in hand. She’s an agile horse so I’m not particularly worried about anything but I do want to be sure she’s well-balanced at the start and the finish.”

Crescendo Love
Crescendo Love

Crescendo Love (horse, 6)

Toru Hayashi, trainer
“He had fast workouts last week and this week, and though there’s been nothing flashy, all has gone smoothly. Out of consideration for Mikki Swallow’s team, I don’t want to come across as too overjoyed but this horse came out of the Japan Cup well and I think he may be in better shape now than he was for that race. There wasn’t much time to the Arima Kinen but it was in my sights and if we couldn’t get into that I’d planned to go to the Grade 3 Nakayama Kimpai. For a Grade 2 winner, the competition is going to be tough but he’s on his toes and full of energy. He came back to the training center on Dec. 15 and two days later worked on the woodchip flat over five furlongs with another horse. He has definitely improved with his run in the Japan Cup. And, Nakayama suits him better than Tokyo does.”

Curren Bouquetd'or
Curren Bouquetd'or

Curren Bouquetd'or (filly, 4)

Sakae Kunieda, trainer
“She’d done well in the Sankei Sho All Comers coming off her layoff and with a second in the Japan Cup last year, I’d had my hopes up for this year. She broke well but there were a number of horses being sent forward, and with her far-inside gate, it made it a bit hard to move. At the crucial point she responded well, but the three who beat her to the finish line were really strong. I think she tried her best. I didn’t send her to the farm afterward but kept her at the training center where I could maintain the good condition she was in. Jockey Kenichi Ikezoe, who is to ride the race, rode her final fast work. With the competition as it has been, she just hasn’t been able to notch a win. I don’t think the change in course or the distance will pose any problems for her. Instead, I think this will present a chance for her to show her agility at its best.”

Tenno Sho (Spring) (G1)

Fierement (horse, 5)

Takahisa Tezuka, trainer
“I think his second in the Tenno Sho (Autumn) proved he can handle shorter distances. After that, with his 32.7 seconds over the final three furlongs, I was worried any damage. It did take a lot out of him, but fortunately, it looked like he’d be ready for the Arima Kinen, so we decided to race him here. All has gone smoothly. Last Thursday, he weighed in at 491 kg without tack, so I think his weight may be up a bit on race day. He moved well in fast work this week. Since returning to the training center, he’s been feeling good and is full of energy. You could see that in his work. With having longer distances for a while, he didn’t switch on very quickly, but with the 2,000 meters last out he’s switching on more quickly. Last year, he returned from the Arc and we’d worried whether he’d be ready for the Arima, and he did better than we’d expected, which reminded me what a strong horse he is. This year, he’s not fatigued and it’ll be a better rotation. With the exception of the Arc, each time jockey Christophe Lemaire has ridden, results have been consistently good. The going in the Arc had indeed been unusual but it was also his first time overseas. This time, he’s on home turf. I don’t know if he’s particularly good at Nakayama or not but fortunately there hasn’t been rain and the ground shouldn’t be bad. I don’t think there’ll be any drop in his performance.”


Kiseki (horse, 6)

Takashi Kotaki, assistant trainer
“His Japan Cup run was unfortunate but that’s racing. It can’t be helped. He was spurred on by a horse that wanted to move running up on his outside and this one took the bit and ran. The pace was fast and he was flagging by the final stage. I was worried the race would do some damage but he recovered quickly and his prep went smoothly. He worked alone on the flat last week and we checked how cued-in he was and only pushed him in the final stage. All has gone well. He’s good at the break again and I don’t anticipate any problem with the Nakayama course itself. And, rather than it all coming down to the fastest turn of foot at the finish, I’d like to see a bit slower track that can bring out his stamina and tenacity.”

Loves Only You
Loves Only You

Loves Only You (filly, 4)

Shigeki Miyauchi, assistant trainer
“In the Queen Elizabeth II Cup, she finally showed us some characteristic racing. After traveling to Dubai and having the races cancelled, she wasn’t well and she wasn’t herself in the Naruo Kinen. Finally, this last time out, she was back in form. We’d had plans to go to Hong Kong so we didn’t send her to the farm but kept her at Ritto to prepare. At one time, her gait was off for a while, but those problems have been ironed out. She looked good in fast work on Dec. 15. She moved well and things look back to normal. It’ll be her first time over the Nakayama 2,500 meters but last out she cruised at a good speed and got close to the front. If she races like she did in the Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks), she’ll be able to handle these conditions just fine.”

Queen Elizabeth II Cup (G1)
Lucky Lilac

Lucky Lilac (mare, 5)

Mikio Matsunaga, trainer
“This week I had Yuichi Fukunaga ride work. Since she turned in quite a good time last week, I had him focus only on the final stage and he said she felt good and was more manageable than he’d anticipated. I don’t know if she’s in tiptop shape but she has definitely improved. In the Queen Elizabeth II Cup, she had an outside gate, but the jockey (Christophe Lemaire) was able to put some horses in front of her, hold back, and keep something in reserve. She stepped into the front quite early in the stretch, which was worrying, but it went well. She went to the farm for a bit, got checked out and, since she was in good shape, came back about a month ago. She always works hard if you ask her, so we’re careful not to ask too much. Her muscling reflects that work and she’s in good shape. There’s no need to worry about the distance. She’s agile so I think she’ll actually be suited to the rather tricky course. It’s her first time over 2,500 meters but she settled nicely in the last year’s Hong Kong Vase and keep something for the finish, so we should be OK. It’s not easy for a horse to win four Grade 1s and like her name, the lilac being a symbol of good fortune, I’ve had a lot thanks to her. It’s her last run and she’s given it her all. If she run her own race here, I think she’ll do well enough.”

Nikkei Shinshun Hai (G2)
Mozu Bello

Mozu Bello (colt, 4)

Naoyuki Morita, trainer
“He had the summer off to refresh but when he came back to the training center, he had a wound that required stitches. So, we’ve had to proceed while keeping an eye on how that was healing. He clocked 55.3 seconds overall in his workout on Dec. 16 with a final furlong time of 13 seconds. The time was a bit slow compared to his best but he’s getting better with each workout. I’ll be giving him lots of work right through this week so we’ll see how much he’s improved. He finished in the top spots in a top-level race in the spring so has sufficient talent. Though he’s coming off a layoff straight into a Grade 1, I’ll have him ready for it.”

Sports Nippon Sho Stayers Stakes (G2)
Ocea Great

Ocea Great (colt, 4)

Masatatsu Kikukawa, trainer
“The jockey (Norihiro Yokoyama) did a great job in the Stayers Stakes last out. He rode work three times and had an excellent handle on the horse. Also, the horse was more on his toes than usual and I’m figuring he’s in good shape. Since his last race was so long, I watched him very closely afterward. When I saw that he wasn’t tired and after confirming that Norihiro Yokoyama could ride him again, I decided on his next start. He had a bit of light fast work on Dec. 18 and looks to be maintaining his condition. The competition will, of course, be tough, but looking at his last start, I’d say the Nakayama 2,500 meters will suit him. He’s coming off a win of a graded stakes races and is on his game. He has always had good racing sense and that, combined with the rider’s appeal, should be what we need for a good race.”

Persian Knight
Persian Knight

Persian Knight (horse, 6)

Hiroshi Kanetake, assistant trainer
“He ran really well in the final stage of the Mile Championship last out and though I don’t think that he was in lacking any way physically, I did get the impression that for his age the mile was a bit too busy for him. He worked on the flat on Dec. 16, the first time between races that he worked on the woodchips since his last race. His training has gone well. He’s a lot quieter these days but he always improves after a race and I think he will be well switched on now since the Arima Kinen will be his third start of the fall. The distance is an unknown factor with him but he has no problem with settling. If he can hold back in the early stages, I think he’ll be able to handle it.”

Ireland Trophy Fuchu Himba Stakes (G2)

Salacia (mare, 5)

Manabu Ikezoe, trainer
“Last out in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup, she didn’t overdo it over the first half. She moved up nice and easy from the rear and went all out in the final stage. She has always had a lot of talent, but mentally she’s much more confident now and has a healthy appetite. Because her constitution is stronger, she comes out of the races better now too. She had some time off at the farm and since this will be her third start of the season, we didn’t want to push her too much. So, she came back to the training center only two weeks ago. The jockey (Kohei Matsuyama) rode her last week and she was well in hand and all looked well. All that’s left for her is to run her own race. If she can keep something in reserve, then go all out in the final stage, we’ll see how well she can hold up against the competition.”

World Premiere
World Premiere

World Premiere (colt, 4)

Yasuo Tomomichi, trainer
“There wasn’t much time between races so this week I had the jockey (Yutaka Take) check if he noticed any changes while riding. He said the horse was calm and relaxed and feels like he has improved from last race. That, the Japan Cup, had been his first start in 11 months, and we were able to get him ready in time. He was worked up on race day, no doubt due to the time between races. Considering the lineup and that he was back from a layoff, I think he did exceptionally well. During his time off he had had work at the farm and over the year he’d filled out nicely. I’d also say his mental state hasn’t changed from a year ago. That was the jockey’s impression this week in work too, that the horse was back to where he’d been before taking time off. He’s a big-striding colt and I can’t say he’s particularly suited to this course. But he is talented and will have the jockey’s support. There are six turns in the course and how he handles them will be crucial.”

You Can Smile
You Can Smile

You Can Smile (horse, 5)

Yasuo Tomomichi, trainer
“In the Copa Republica Argentina two starts ago, I think the top finishers had the weight advantage and I don’t think this horse’s performance for his fourth-place finish was in any way lacking. He improved after that so I was hopeful for the Japan Cup despite the extremely strong field. But he failed to fire and the results (12th place) were totally unexpected. Things may have been different if he’d been able to travel more forward. He worked in tandem over the woodchip flat on Dec. 16 with jockey Yasunari Iwata up. The horse moved as he usually does and it looks like those last two starts have improved him. The distance suits him, but it will be his first time over the tighter turns of Nakayama. Key will likely be how well he can execute those. The jockey has ridden him many times before and is familiar with him. I have my hopes up.”


Sources: Keiba Book, Netkeiba, Radio Nikkei, Sankei Sports

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