2022 News

December 23, 2022


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

Akai Ito (mare, 5)

Masaaki Shibata, assistant trainer
“She was coming off a layoff for the Fuchu Himba Stakes and she needed a bit more. But with that as a sharpener for the Queen Elizabeth II Cup, she gained ground well in the stretch. She is definitely a horse that improves with a prep. After that, we let her take it easy for a while and clocked her for the first time two weeks ago. Last week, her time up the hill course was 51-some seconds over the four furlongs and I think it was a good time. She moved well and looked as she had when she was at her best. She was seventh in last year’s Arima Kinen and displayed some good racing. This will be her third start of her autumn campaign and she is showing improvement. The competition is tough, but I’m hoping she can bring out her best with the good shape she’s in. I am looking forward to seeing better results than last year.”


Aristoteles (horse, 5)

Masanari Tanaka, assistant trainer
“He was in good shape for the Kyoto Daishoten and he kept abreast of the pace. It was looking like a good trip but he failed to gain ground in the finish. His results were very unexpected. After that, he went to the farm for a bit and then returned to the training center with the Arima Kinen as our goal. The horse in now in fantastic shape. We want some different results, so we’ll have him wear blinkers this time. They have been effective in work so we’re hoping they’ll help in the race as well. As you can see from his win in the American Jockey Club Cup, I think he’s suited to Nakayama. I’d like him to get an inside gate and get a ground-saving trip.”

Meguro Kinen (G2)

Boccherini (horse, 6)

Yuki Iwasaki, assistant trainer
“In the Japan Cup, he was able to run his own race as usual, but the jockey (Suguru Hamanaka) said the ground was too hard. Ground that’s a little bit soft, not really hard ground, is better for this horse. He didn’t overdo it in the finish, so he came out of the race well. Since then, everything has gone smoothly. On Dec. 15, the jockey rode his fast work on the woodchip flat course. According to him, the horse’s responses were good and he felt good overall. I think it was a good workout. This time it’s the same venue as the Nikkei Sho, where he finished very close to Titleholder so I think the course suits him. It will be the fourth week of the meet and it would be good if the ground were a bit soft.

Boldog Hos
Boldog Hos

Boldog Hos (colt, 3)

Hiroshi Miyamoto, trainer
“He gained ground well in the Kikuka Sho and was second, missing the win by a very small margin. He has always responded well when asked to give more, but this was proof of just how much he has matured over the summer. He returned to Ritto on Dec. 1 and his preparations have gone smoothly. He breezed up the hill course on Dec. 7 in a time of 51.8 seconds. His footwork and movement were good. His workout alongside another horse on Dec. 14 was very good, no complaints whatsoever. When we urged the other horse on, this one went after him and passed him in the stretch. His time was 78.2 seconds over the five furlongs, with a last furlong in 11.1 seconds. He is looking very good now. He is not the most agile horse, so how well he can handle the rather tight turns of Nakayama will be key. He has excellent stamina and the 2,500-meter distance is a plus. He responds very well when asked to pick it up. He has had a lot of hard workouts and I’m hoping the race will unfold in a way that works in his favor and that he’ll try hard.”

Copa Republica Argentina (G2)

Breakup (colt, 4)

Yoichi Kuroiwa, trainer
“Over the summer, his balance improved a lot. In the Copa Republica Argentina, the race unfolded in a way that everything came together well for him and he won it, giving him two wins in a row at Tokyo. He passed the summer well and even though we’d expected him to be looking up with the approaching autumn weather, we were quite surprised with his improvement. We decided to pass on the Japan Cup and gave him a bit of time off. He returned to the training center on Nov. 22 and we worked on gradually getting rid of the slack. On Dec. 14, the jockey (Keita Tosaki) rode him alongside another horse. His responses in the finish were good. We have been giving him lots of hard work, but most importantly, not overdoing it or getting him worked up. He should be in excellent shape for the race. He is even better suited to Nakayama and he’s maturing, both physically and mentally. He is not as affected by how things unfold as he used to be, and he has more options now. He doesn’t need to take the lead anymore, and that’s a strongpoint.”

Hanshin Daishoten (G2)
Deep Bond

Deep Bond (horse, 5)

Ryuji Okubo, trainer
Like last year, he didn’t get good results in the Arc de Triomphe this year either. As you can see from the results of the other Japanese horses, when the ground gets that bad, it makes things difficult. After returning from France, he went to the farm. After returning to the training center, things have all gone smoothly. His work up the hill course two weeks ago was good. Jockey Yuga Kawada rode him last week on the woodchip course with another horse alongside. We pushed him hard as we usually do. His movement was good, and his condition looks good too. Last year as well, he took on the Arima Kinen after returning from the Arc, but this year, I think the fatigue and stress are a lot less since he’s had the experience before. I also think now he’s much stronger mentally. I would say he’s in better shape this year than last year. He did well with last year’s rotation and I hope he’ll get to the gate without mishap.”


Efforia (colt, 4)

Yuichi Shikato, trainer
“He had gate problems in the Osaka Hai, and the high pace of the Takarazuka Kinen was something he’d never experienced before. After that, he went to two different farms and returned to Miho refreshed. He has so much energy he doesn’t seem to know what to do with it and I think he is looking like he did when he was at his best. Two weeks ago, he worked alongside another horse to get him a bit more switched on. He is lean and the ground was fast so his time was a bit faster than what we’d aimed for, but his movement was good and I think this will sharpen him up. This week, the jockey (Takeshi Yokoyama) rode and they worked in the middle of a group of three. His time wasn’t that fast, but it was a good workout. He didn’t let up after crossing the finish line, but continued on past the turn, so it was quite a hard workout. Again, he received a huge number of fan ballots and I really appreciate that. I hope this time his performance won’t be embarrassing.”

Tenno Sho (Autumn) (G1)

Equinox (colt, 3)

Yu Ota, assistant trainer
“The Tenno Sho (Autumn) was a unique race. The frontrunner took off at a high pace, but behind him everything was slow. At the bottom of the slope, he was so far behind the frontrunner I was worried he wasn’t going to make it. In the end, however, he moved on his own, gave it his all and was able to overtake the frontrunner. He had a bit of time off after that at the farm, and when he returned to the training center, I thought his walk looked much better than it had for the last race. His muscle tone and the sheen on his coat were perfect. Last week, jockey Christophe Lemaire gave him a good solid workout. His footwork and time were good and right on schedule. This will be his first time at Nakayama since the Satsuki Sho. He had drawn wide for the race and the jockey sent him forward aggressively to get a good position, but I think he’d have done better if he’d been able to race at his own pace. We are working on him so he’ll be able to break well.”

Queen Elizabeth II Cup (G1)

Geraldina (filly, 4)

Takashi Saito, trainer
“She had an outside gate in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup, but the jockey (Cristian Demuro) did a good job. I think she won very nicely. Since turning 4 years old, she’s much calmer, able to work better with the rider and easier to train. She has also grown and matured both physically and mentally. After some time at the farm, she returned to the stable on Dec. 2 and all has gone smoothly. She had her first workout on Dec. 8 over the course and again the same on Dec. 15. To keep her from getting too switched on, she worked alone slowly over the first half and she moved well enough. This week, things are looking like she’ll be ready. She has the Arima Kinen in her blood, with Grass Wonder, Deep Impact and her dam Gentildonna. It will be her first time over 2,500 meters at Nakayama, but I think the course will suit her and I’m looking forward to it.”

Ireland Trophy Fuchu Himba Stakes (G2)
Izu Jo no Kiseki

Izu Jo no Kiseki (mare, 5)

Tomonori Kanaori, assistant trainer
“She does best over a fast track. In the Queen Elizabeth II Cup, the heavy ground did her in. She couldn’t bring out her best at all. She had a bit of time off after that and all has gone well since then. Last week, she felt good in work and showed some very sharp responses, so there are no complaints. This week, just a bit of fine-tuning will be sufficient. If everything continues to go well through to raceday, I think she’ll be able to maintain her condition and head into the race in great shape. I do think 2,500 meters may be a bit far for her, but the jockey (Yasunari Iwata) knows her well and that’s a confidence boost. With a good trip and keeping something in reserve for the final stage, she’ll show us some good footwork. She will need to have a fast track though.”

Justin Palace
Justin Palace

Justin Palace (colt, 3)

Haruki Sugiyama, trainer
“He drew an outside gate in the Kikuka Sho, but he broke well and the jockey (Katsuma Sameshima) did a very good job. I think it was a good race. Jockey Tom Marquand rode his fast work last week with him working alongside two other horses. It was a solid workout and his movement was good. The horse is able to handle the work with ease now and still show us good footwork. His body has filled out nicely and he’s calm and relaxed. This week’s workout should have him just where we want him. I think he’ll go to the gate in the same shape he was for the Kikuka Sho, or better. I think he’s moved up a level. This time he’s up against older horses and he’ll have to gain some inspiration from them, but I hope he’ll be able to take advantage of the great shape he’s in. With it being the Nakayama 2,500 meters, the draw will be important. I am hoping he’ll break well and keep up with the pace.”

Last Draft
Last Draft

Last Draft (horse, 6)

Hirofumi Toda, trainer
“Two starts ago in the October Stakes, he was carrying 58kg and had to move out from an unfavorable position. However, last out in the Copa Republica Argentina, the ground was fast on the inside but once into the stretch there was the accident and he got pushed wide. I think that took the edge of his footwork in the final stage. Considering the trouble he encountered and the fact that he took the lead momentarily, I’d have to give him passing marks for that race, and also for the one before it. He used to have problems with inflammation of his legs and he had a difficult temperament too, but that has been taken care of and has made a huge difference. He can run much better now and easily get good times. He has come into his own now. We know the lineup is strong, but even at his age, I think he’s still maturing. He is in good condition and I have my hopes up.”

Osaka Hai (G1)

Potager (horse, 5)

Yasuo Tomomichi, trainer
“He ran well in the Tenno Sho (Autumn), but the wide-open Tokyo course and it coming down to a speed battle over the long stretch made things very difficult for him. It was always our intention to race him here after the Tenno Sho and everything has gone as planned. Jockey Hayato Yoshida rode work on Dec. 15 and pushed him pretty hard. I had the impression the horse was lighter on his feet than what he was in the previous week. That may have been due to the jockey having ridden, but he looked good. It will be his first time at the distance, but I think the tighter turns and the shorter stretch of Nakayama will suit him. It would be good if the track were a bit slow on the day.”

Takarazuka Kinen (G1)

Titleholder (colt, 4)

Toru Kurita, trainer
“We brought him back to the training center early and could see he was slack in areas. On Dec. 10, we had to handle him with kid gloves since we were worried about him getting upset and tense and he did stay calm. Last week, jockey Kazuo Yokoyama, who knows him best of all, rode to check his balance and how well he was communicating with the rider. Everything was fine. He carried himself well, with good balance, and raced solidly to the end. We were relieved everything went well. He is improving slowly but surely. His muscle tone and coat are looking good and his wind was better than it had been the week before. He is also more eager to run. There are no particular points of concern. The jockey asked to ride this week again, so he did on Wednesday and he expressed his satisfaction with the work. Two weeks ago, the horse’s weight was 482kg, about the same it was for the Takarazuka Kinen. There are strong 3-year-olds this year and Efforia should be on his toes again. It is an intimidating lineup. My staff and I have done everything we can to get him ready to give a worthy performance. After that, it’s up to the jockey.”

Japan Cup in association with LONGINES (International Invitational) (G1)
Vela Azul

Vela Azul (horse, 5)

Kunihiko Watanabe, trainer
“The Japan Cup was a tough race, but he did a good job of winning it coming from way back in the field. In the end, the draw and the course he took all worked out well. I think it was a race that really drew on his experience of having previously raced on dirt. He came out of the race with very little damage. He was calm and cool afterward too. He went to the farm for a bit and returned to the training center on Dec. 9. Jockey Kohei Matsuyama rode his fast work a week ago just to check him out. He said the horse’s breathing wasn’t bad and he has maintained his condition. It is a Grade 1 again, but he’s on his toes. Considering his performance last time, I think the Nakayama course shouldn’t pose any problems.”

Mermaid Stakes (G3)
Win Mighty

Win Mighty (mare, 5)

Tomoki Igarashi, assistant trainer
“With her outside gate in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup, it was either go for position right away or hold way back. She was sent forward as she broke well, but it made the race difficult considering the result. Still, it was good that she didn’t stop running this time unlike another time she really bombed. After that, we kept her at the training center to prepare for the Arima Kinen. We exercised her in the pool and the round pen to maintain her condition. When we started her back in work and had her cantering around the ring, she felt better than she had before her last start or the one before it, the Kyoto Daishoten. She definitely improves with a race. Her first win, the Wasurenagusa Sho, and the Mermaid Stakes were all won on her third start back. The distance won’t be a problem and I think Nakayama suits her. She is no longer upset by racing in among the pack. The competition is strong, but I have my hopes up.”


Sources: Keiba Book, Gallop, Netkeiba, Radio Nikkei

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