Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes (G1) - Preview
It’s the turn of the 2-year-old colts this coming Sunday (December 18), when the Grade 1 Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes will be run at Hanshin Racecourse, the final big race of the year at the Kansai track. The race was originally known as the Asahi Hai Sansai Stakes when it was first run in 1949, and was run over 1,200 meters in its early days. The distance was changed to a mile in 1962 and the race was formerly run at Nakayama. It was given Grade 1 status in 1984 and became an international Grade 1 in 2010, and the switch to Hanshin was made in 2014.
Danon Touchdown: There’s a lot to like about the half-brother to Danon the Kid, and trainer Takayuki Yasuda will be doing his utmost to bring out the best in the JPY264 million purchase at the 2021 Select Sale. The colt won on his debut at Chukyo in October, and finished second in his only other race, the Grade 2 Daily Hai Nisai Stakes, run over the course and distance of this Sunday’s race. Trainer Takayuki Yasuda says, “He’s been showing a good turn of foot at the finish in his training.”
All Parfait: The colt by Real Steel is two wins from three starts, and is coming off a win in the Grade 2 Daily Hai Nisai Stakes over the mile at Hanshin in November. Jockey Takuya Ono has ridden the horse in all his races and commented on the horse: “He’s coming along nicely, but he has to transport over to the track, so I don’t want to overdo things with him. He found a good rhythm in the race last time after starting from a wide gate, and was strong in the finish.”
Obamburumai: Trainer Keiji Yoshimura is looking for just his second JRA Grade 1 win and the colt by Discreet Cat looks to have a good chance to help him achieve that. Unbeaten in two starts, he caused a bit of an upset last time, when going off the tenth favorite and winning the Grade 2 Keio Hai Nisai Stakes at Tokyo in November. On the woodchip course at Ritto last week, working with two other horses, he posted a six furlong time of 83.1 seconds, with a final furlong time of 11.7 seconds. No stranger to Grade 1 wins, Christophe Lemaire will ride Obamburumai this Sunday.
Dolce More: The colt by Rulership is another that comes to the race unbeaten and was last seen winning the Grade 3 Saudi Arabia Royal Cup over a mile at Tokyo in October. Trainer Naosuke Sugai said: “He doesn’t really stand out in training, but his times are certainly good enough. He experienced racing right-handed at Sapporo and he’s fine racing among other horses, even though last time he ran in second throughout the race.” Ryusei Sakai has been booked to ride the colt for the first time.
Labeling: The British bred colt by Frankel has just had the one start, but he won a maiden race in good style at Tokyo over a mile in November, chalking up a final three furlong time in that race of 33.1 seconds. Trainer Yuichi Shikato commented on the prospects of Labeling: “There hasn’t been long between races, but he’s in very good shape. He ran a good race last time, and with the ability he seems to have, I’ll look forward to things from now.”
Corpus Christi: Trained by Mitsumasa Nakauchida, the colt by Epiphaneia is also unbeaten in two starts, and is coming off a win at Hanshin over 1,400 meters in November. With jockey Yuga Kawada booked for Danon Touchdown, visiting jockey David Egan has the ride on Corpus Christi. Assistant trainer Taku Fukunaga said: “Since returning from the farm, the horse seems nice and relaxed, and we hope he’ll be in best condition going into the race.” Trainer Nakauchida took out last Sunday’s Grade 1 Hanshin Juvenile Fillies with Liberty Island, and he won this race in 2020 with Grenadier Guards, who holds the record time for the Grade 1 Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes. The trainer has such a good record at the track, and so there’s every chance he can claim another JRA Grade 1 victory this week too.From Dusk: The American bred colt by Bolt d’Oro finished second last time to Obamburumai in the Grade 2 Keio Hai Nisai Stakes over 1,400 meters at Tokyo in November, and will be looking to stay an extra furlong for the first time in this next race. It was Yutaka Take who won last year’s Grade 1 Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes on Do Deuce, and he has been booked to ride From Dusk.