2021 News

December 24, 2021


Arima Kinen (The Grand Prix) (G1) - Comments from runners' connections
Queen Elizabeth II Cup (G1)
Akai Ito

Akai Ito (filly, 4)

Kazuya Nakatake, trainer
“She was really strong in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup. I think it really helped having had a good long rest until the Fuchu Himba Stakes. She was in excellent shape but the jockey’s judgment was excellent too. And things came together very well for her. She really started changing from that race. After this last race she hasn’t seemed particularly tired and there was no damage. She has well-recovered and refreshed. Her appetite has always been good, so there’s been no problem getting her ready. The competition, however, is going to take a leap up. She will be racing against this level of horses for the first time, so I hope she’ll learn from the others. I won’t know whether she’s suited to Nakayama until we try it, but I do think the distance will be fine for her. This will be jockey Hideaki Miyuki’s first Arima Kinen, but he’s experienced at Nakayama, so I’m not at all concerned there. She may have a cute name, but she’s a very powerful horse.”

American Jockey Club Cup (G2)

Aristoteles (colt, 4)

Hidetaka Otonashi, trainer
“In the Japan Cup, this horse was sent to the front for the first time. He was somewhat taken aback and confused and spooking at everything. Since he wasn’t able to give the race all he has, I think you can disregard those results. There isn’t much time between races, so we kept him at the training center. There was no sign of fatigue and things have gone smoothly. Jockey Yutaka Take rode fast work last week, just to check how the horse feels. This week Take breezed him up the hill course. That should be enough, since he has the trip to east ahead of him. He won the American Jockey Club Cup, so I think the distance is within his ability. The races are closer together than they’ve been, but I’m hoping that that will actually work in his favor. Jockey Take has won the Arima Kinen three times so far, so I have my hopes up that the jockey will lend him a hand.

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

Asamano Itazura (colt, 3)

Takahisa Tezuka, trainer
“I didn’t give jockey Hironobu Tanabe any particular instructions in the Kikuka Sho (Japanese St. Leger), but apparently the jockey wanted to race like he had done in the Asahi Hai St. Lite Kinen. In the end, it was the frontrunner that won wire to wire. This horse did race well in the final stage, but the race didn’t unfold to his liking. He went to a nearby farm after that and returned to the training center on Nov. 18, looking well recovered and refreshed. On Dec. 15 we gave him a hard workout. His footwork was good and he was as good as he’d been when he’d won the St. Lite Kinen. I do feel the Kikuka Sho was a bit long for him, but this time the pressure is off, which will make things easier. The Kikuka Sho winner won’t have an easy race this time, and I’m hoping this horse will be able to bring out his best. This has been the only goal of all his preparation and he’s looking in great shape. I think he does better with a moderate amount of time in between races. He is suited to Nakayama, and I think things could get interesting depending on how the race unfolds.”

Takarazuka Kinen (G1)
Chrono Genesis

Chrono Genesis (mare, 5)

Takashi Saito, trainer
“She took on the Prix de l’Arc de Tripomphe from a good position and had a lot in the tank when going in to the stretch. But, the ground was heavy and that took a lot out of her. After returning to Japan, she went to the farm where she also had some prep work, then returned to Ritto on Dec. 2. Since then, however, she hasn’t been able to move as well as she normally would. Last week, she showed improvement, and this week I had her work with a horse that moves well. When they lined up side by side, I’d have to admit that she wasn’t quite as sharp looking as she’d been before. She is the type that does improve with each workout though. When she returned from Dubai, she looked very scrawny but that wasn’t the case after returning from France. Her winter coat is quite heavy now, but she has no physical problems and I don’t think she’s in bad shape. She has always given it her all, in the three years since her debut at Kokura as a 2-year-old. She is quite a horse.”

Hanshin Daishoten (G2)
Deep Bond

Deep Bond (colt, 4)

Ryuji Okubo, trainer
“He usually likes a heavier track, and isn’t bothered by rain either. In the Arc, though, it was the first time he’d ever experienced the likes of such ground. After quarantine he returned to the farm, where things are the most familiar for him. He came back to Ritto in good condition and is looking alert and filled out in a good way. He had a hard workout last week, and with his overseas experiences, he has matured nicely and I feel he has confidence now. I don’t know what went wrong in the Nakayama Kimpai in January, but the course is not a problem. I am expecting him to put in a good race.”

Taketoshi Yamaguchi, assistant trainer
“Jockey Ryuji Wada rode fast work on Dec. 16 and urged him on strongly. Just by looking at him, you can see that he has improved and he looks to have no trouble after returning from France. He looks quite solid and I’m hoping the race will favor those with stamina like this one, more than those who has the most speed in the final stage.

Tenno Sho (Autumn) (G1)

Efforia (colt, 3)

Yuichi Shikato, trainer
“He ran a very strong race in the Tenno Sho (Autumn), and after that I sent him to the farm. En route to the farm, he lost a shoe in the horse van and had to have two days off training, but fortunately he recovered well and things went smoothly. He came back to the training center on Dec. 3, and since starting him back into work, he’s been looking quite well. I had him a fast work two weeks ago up the hill course, due to the poor condition of the flat course. He moved as he always does, effortlessly. His weight is around 520kg, and he looks about the same as he did before the Tenno Sho (Autumn). Last week, we focused on getting him better and balanced. And this week, the object was to get him on his game. He worked in between two other horses, and it was a good workout. He was in excellent shape for the Tenno Sho (Autumn), and I’d say he’s close to that now. He has a good racing sense, and I think he’ll be able to handle the Nakayama 2,500 meters well. Since he’s only 3 years old, he’s still in the position of a challenger.”


Kiseki (horse, 7)

Yasuyuki Tsujino, trainer
“He moves around a bit in the gate and this actually helps his timing at the break. In the Japan Cup, however, he was too quiet and broke poorly. The jockey was determined to make up ground and he did get a lot closer to the front, but the final stage was tough. Last year, he’d been somewhat tired after the Japan Cup, but this year he came out of the race very well. This will be the final race of his career. We’ll be going in to the race after doing everything we can, including gate practice. He has had two hard workouts, last week over the woodchip course, and on Sunday up the hill course. This week, so as to not overwork him, we just checked his responses. He has always run calmly and he does raise his head a bit when he’s pushed, but he has always done that. Being a veteran racer, he did get a bit switched on when the jockey (Kohei Matsuyama) rode last week, but he took the bit on his own from the backstretch and was on his toes. He hasn’t won since the Kikuka Sho in 2017, but he’s traveled overseas and he’s a tough horse. I take my hat off to him.”

Melody Lane (mare, 5)

Naoyuki Morita, trainer
“Last out, in her win of the Koto Stakes, she was coming off a four-month layoff but she has the tendency of racing better when she’s had quite a bit of time off. The level of competition may have been in her favor, but she got a good position and raced solidly to the end. She is a small horse but she demonstrated once again how good she is over distance. She went to the farm after that and after returning to the training center, her work has been low-key, as usual. I think she has maintained her condition. On Dec. 8, she had a workout on the flat with a training partner, just to get her limbered up. I don’t know how she’ll fare if it comes down to late speed, but she has stamina. I wish we had about 3,000 meters, but she looks like she’ll be in good shape for the race.”

Mozu Bello
Mozu Bello

Mozu Bello (horse, 5)

Naoyuki Morita, trainer
“The Japan Cup was his third race since returning from summer break, and he was improving with each outing. I thought he would gain ground in the stretch but he wasn’t able to respond. When he’s in good form, he takes the bit on his own and lowers his head and runs, but there was none of that in the Japan Cup. He had a bit of time off at the farm after that. Last week, he worked up the hill course over four furlongs for a time of 51.2 seconds. He has been more on his toes in morning work than usual and he’s taking the bit now on his own. He is in good shape. The way he moves when he’s feeling good is back. He definitely looks better than he did for the Japan Cup.”

Fukushima Kinen (G3)

Panthalassa (colt, 4)

Shigeki Miyauchi, assistant trainer
“In the Fukushima Kinen, the early lap times were like a sprint, and he was pulling the field, which just shows how strong his heart and lungs are. After that we gave him some time off at the farm and he returned to the training center on Dec. 8. When he came back, he was a bit soft but he’s been looking fresh, and he’s been nicely on the bit as well. On Dec. 16, jockey Yuji Hishida rode and gave him a good hard workout. There are no changes and that’s the important thing. I do think 2,500 meters is long for this horse, but he’s good over a rough track and rain would disadvantage the others and help him. The stretch is still on the long side at Nakayama, but unlike Tokyo, many factors can work in your favor at Nakayama. I just want him to be able to run his own race.”

Persian Knight
Persian Knight

Persian Knight (horse, 7)

Yuki Iwasaki, assistant trainer
“In the Challenge Cup last out, I’d wanted him to get a more forward position as Hanshin is a smaller course, but he didn’t break well. Still, he looked good in the finish. We have been trying our best to get him to break better and have given him lots of gate practice. He always tends to rise up and he’s just a poor starter. He is quiet in the gate though. He is a big horse, but his hindquarters are not that strong, so when the doors open, he inevitably goes up. In last year’s Arima Kinen, he finished seventh but there was only a little more than half a length between him and the fourth-place finisher. He can handle the distance but he was tugging at the bit during the race, so I think how well he listens to the rider is crucial. I hope he goes around well, so he can aim for the upper spots.”

Ireland Trophy Fuchu Himba Stakes (G2)
Shadow Diva

Shadow Diva (mare, 5)

Makoto Saito, trainer
“Her start in the Japan Cup was good and she went forward nicely balanced. In the first turn, the frontrunner moved out and she was affected by that, but recovered well. Though she has just won a graded race for the first time in October, she did very well among that high level of competition and finished seventh. She came out of the race fine, and since she recovers very quickly, we kept her at the training center. When racing to the right, she tends to drift in, so I’ve had her in blinkers at the suggestion of the jockey (Norihiro Yokoyama), putting them on one week, off the next, and checking the effect. I think she’s likely at her peak now. Her appetite is strong and regular. The jockey feels that she’s fine when racing to the right, and she looks like she should be able to handle the distance well. She tends to stop racing when she’s taken away from the others, so the blinkers may help there. I will leave the race up to the jockey. This will be her last run and, of course, I think she has a chance.”

Kobe Shimbun Hai (Japanese St. Leger Trial) (G2)
Stella Veloce

Stella Veloce (colt, 3)

Naosuke Sugai, trainer
“In the Kikuka Sho, he went very wide turning into the stretch and, with the loss of ground and having to make it up from there, it was a difficult finish. I think he did show his strength though. It was unfortunate, as it was his last chance at a Classic. I got him ready with the Kikuka Sho as the main goal but for the Arima Kinen, I’ve been concentrating on having him in a more laid-back mindset. I have upped the pace of workouts very gradually. On Dec. 16, he worked with another horse, and the rider got after him only in the final stage. He picked it up nicely, and the workload was sufficient. This week has just been fine-tuning. He’s only 3 years old, so he goes in as a challenger, and I’m hoping he’ll take his cues from the more experienced horses. It’ll be a good experience for him, and I hope that the race will lead him to the next year. May he do his best.”

Kikuka Sho (Japanese St. Leger) (G1)

Titleholder (colt, 3)

Toru Kurita, trainer
“After he won the Kikuka Sho, he stayed at a nearby farm for about a month and came back to the training center on Nov. 26. He came back the most filled out yet and mentally he’s relaxed and calm. There was an incident on Dec. 9, where he got loose, but fortunately, the only damage was a scrape on his left thigh. On Dec. 11, he worked on the woodchip flat for five furlongs with a time of about 66 seconds. His footwork in the final stage looked fine and we’re continuing his preparation with great care. He is a little bit difficult about taking the bit, so we checked that out. Rather than focusing on his speed, we’ve been paying more attention to his balance, his cornering ability and how he communicates with the rider. He did much better this week than last week, since he was moving nice and sharply after lining up with the other horse. He has raced well over 3,000 meters, so the distance isn’t a problem. I think a shorter stretch like Nakayama will bring out his best. When he gets in with the other horses, he does have a tendency to tense up and I’ll leave that to the jockey (Kazuo Yokoyama) to handle. He’ll go up against older horses, strong ones, for the first time. I’m hoping he’ll be able to run his own race.”

Meguro Kinen (G2)
Win Kiitos

Win Kiitos (filly, 4)

Yoshitada Munakata, trainer
“I don’t think the trip to Hanshin was a factor in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup (10th-place finish). I don’t really know what the cause was of poor performance, but then none of the top picks did well. We started riding her from Dec. 8 and last week, we pushed her hard at length and she did well. She worked with another horse and we kept the overall time down, but she picked up nicely in the finish. That should have her on her game. She is well-recovered from her last race and her preparation has all gone well. A breeze this week should do it. She weighed 486kg on Dec. 16. She looks well-suited to Nakayama, so I guess the course is easy for her and the more distance will be better for her. I’m looking forward to seeing her run amid the strong opponents here. I’m hoping she’ll give it her best.”

You Can Smile
You Can Smile

You Can Smile (horse, 6)

Yasuo Tomomichi, trainer
“It was always my plan to go from the Tenno Sho (Autumn) to the Japan Cup, and then to the Arima Kinen. I think the distance (2,000 meters) in the Sapporo Kinen and the Tenno Sho (Autumn) was a bit short for him, but they were not a bad race by any means. The Japan Cup was slow-paced and it all came down to the final speed, so there was nothing to do there. He came out of the Japan Cup well and we kept him at the training center to prepare for here. Like last year, his improvement has been slow and with that in mind, I started him back in the summer. I think he’s showing improvement with each race. Though the course is small this time, it’s 2,500 meters and I think the distance suits him. There will be no problem with racing to the right. He has stamina and can run at a good speed over distance. I’m hoping the race unfolds to his advantage.


Sources: Keiba Book, Gallop, Netkeiba, Radio Nikkei

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