2022 News

December 27, 2022


Hopeful Stakes (G1) - Comments from runners' connections

(All entrants are 2-year-old colts)

Born in Grande

Toshiyuki Takashima, assistant trainer
“We anticipated that the pace would be slow in his debut race, so we asked him to move early and he responded well and ran a very agile race. He stayed at the training center after that. He’s moving well. He’s still immature mentally, but he did weather the long trip to the track and, seeing his results at Fukushima, I think he can handle a righthanded track well enough. The lineup is stronger this time but I’m looking forward to seeing how well he can do.”

Arata Saito, jockey
(after 6 furlongs on the flat course Dec. 23) “Today was just for me to see how he felt and check his responses. He put in a solid workout to the end and moved well. I think he’s in good shape and he hasn’t changed mentally since his last start, which is a good thing. I think Nakayama suits him better than a wide-open course. He’s very relaxed.”

Dura Erede

Manabu Ikezoe, trainer
“On Dec. 14, his work was to help improve his lungs. I had him work at length on the woodchip flat course. His footwork was a little heavy but that will improve. On Dec. 21 he worked up the hill course over 4 furlongs. I had him wait so his time was about 55 seconds overall, but he extended nicely over the last 3 furlongs. The wind was very strong, but he was still able to clock 11.3 seconds over the final furlong. I think he’s improving nicely. His forward racing position will make him competitive at Nakayama. He does get the bit in his teeth at times and I’m hoping he’ll be able to execute all four turns well. It will depend on how balanced he can remain and where he can catch a bit of a breather. How well in tune with the rider he is going to be will be the key. He’s always been good at the break and he has good racing sense. Still, a lot of things are going to have to come together for him.”



Takahide Ando, assistant trainer
“Last out in the Tokyo Sports Hai Nisai Stakes, it was his first start in a while and being still immature in many areas, that led to his loss. He was also slow shifting into high gear and the jockey said he was no different than in his trackwork. Afterward, he went to the farm for a bit. There are no particular problems. Compared to his last start, the rotation here is much easier. And his condition compared to his last start is a level above. He worked alongside another horse on Dec. 21 and he moved well. But, we can’t really talk about what kind of condition he’s in yet compared to this or that time. That’s not the problem. He’s learning bit by bit, race by race, in stages. He’s still very immature so it’s the learning process and the amount of work that will lead to improvement. I’m not worried about the track being left-handed or right-handed. He’s still soft and, honestly, I think a bigger, more spacious course is better for him. The Nakayama 2,000 is a difficult race to time your move, but if we’re to aim for the classics, he needs to be able to handle it.

Tokyo Sports Hai Nisai Stakes (G2)


Hiroyuki Uehara, trainer
“He moved really well in his work on Dec. 14 and displayed nice footwork even once he was past the finish line and to the backstretch, which showed even more how much he has improved. He ran on the outside and his time was still very good. In his debut, he was slow out of the gate and traveled on the far outside, yet won. Then in the Tokyo Sports Hai Nisai Stakes, he kept up with the pacesetter and wasn’t bothered at all by being in with the pack. That was his first time in among them too. When a horse comes up on him from behind, it really gets his competitive spirit fired up and he doesn’t want to let anyone past. He really shows his tenacity. Looking at his track work and how he moves, I’d say he shouldn’t have a problem with a right-handed track and seeing at how, in track work, he is determined to catch up to a runner in front, the 2,000-meter distance should be OK. His condition has improved. I expect him to give us a good race here too.”

Radio Nikkei Hai Kyoto Nisai Stakes (G3)
Gruner Green

Gruner Green

Ikuo Aizawa, trainer
“I hadn’t expected him to take the lead in his most recent start. He did a great job of winning. He was tense, but there was no problem in the race. In the race before that he’d raced in second position. He can hold back or go to the front. He stayed at the training center where we could keep a good eye on him and we recorded his first time on Dec. 14 and he had a hard workout on Dec. 21. I think Nakayama will suit him. He’s fully recovered and looking good. He breaks well and being able to race from a forward position is a strongpoint. From the way he races and his bloodline, the change to Nakayama should be good. After this race, I plan to give him some time off so I hope he’ll get some good results here. He’ll be up against one of the horses that beat him in his debut race, but at the time, he was short one hard workout. I think he’ll be able to hold his own. I’m hoping he’ll give a performance that will open up opportunities for next year.”

Hearts Concerto
Hearts Concerto

Hearts Concerto

Ryo Takei, trainer
“He missed the break in the Tokyo Sports Hai Nisai Stakes and was left behind, and that really hurt, but he was very eager to run. His preparation after that race has all gone smoothly. On Dec. 14 we had him chase and catch another horse in morning work and it was his first time that he wasn’t able to catch the training partner. His time was good though and on the flat he didn’t move on his own, so I’d like to work on that with him. He doesn’t have that problem on the hill course, but on the flat, he’s too laid back and won’t run seriously. But, we should have that remedied by the race. We also gave him gate practice but he still wasn’t consistently good at the break, so he’ll need more practice. If he’s late away, this time he’ll have more time to recover. He could be a little leaner, but he’s just 2 years old. On Dec. 21 he worked over 6 furlongs on the flat and he was much lighter on his feet, very much on his toes, very forward. I think the extra distance is a plus and the conditions are better for him here.”

J Palms

Noriyuki Hori, trainer
“After winning his debut over the Tokyo 2,000, he went to the farm and then back to Miho on Dec. 3. In and out of the stable a number of times, he’s experienced a lot of things and the things he couldn’t do well, he was doing well the next time. Due to a ridgling (an undescended testicle) he has problems concentrating and keeping his cool. On Dec. 8, he wasn’t able to respond well, but on the 15th, working alongside another horse he could concentrate, and with the help of some training aids, his responses were good. But, his lungs still need a bit of work. His withers also haven’t fully developed and physically I can’t say he’s up to full strength, but for a 2-year-old at this stage of his development, he gives a pretty good impression. After morning work, he weighed 484 kg. After work on Dec. 25, he was looking quite good. ”

Jun Tsubamegaeshi

Yasuo Tomomichi, trainer
“After his race on Nov. 19, he stayed at the training center and we’ve been preparing him with this race as our goal. He’s a powerful colt and I think he’ll be able to handle the Nakayama hill in the stretch. But as for how he measures up against the others, I can’t say, but I’m looking forward to the excursion east.”

Yukito Ishikawa, jockey
(after 6 furlongs on the flat Dec. 22)
“He’s still soft but his responses are good. I got the impression he was very easy to ride. And he moved well over the final stage too.”

King's Reign
King's Reign

King's Reign

Takahisa Tezuka, trainer
“He never looks that good in morning work, but when he goes to a race, you can see he has good racing sense. He still has a lot of maturing to do and he’s only going to really get good later on. He’s still soft in places and his overall body is immature. But he gave us his best performance ever in the Hyakunichiso Tokubetsu last out. He had some time off at the farm, and he’s not in bad shape even though his morning work isn’t very flashy. I’m not worried about Nakayama, but he still has to improve, a lot. We’ll just have to see how well he can do for now amid this competition. I think if he gives it what he has now, there won’t be much difference between him and the others. Key will be how well he can do amid a large field, how he’ll fare at a new venue, and whether he’ll be able to keep up with the pace. I hope the ground is fast for him. He’s an agile horse so I wouldn’t want him to be too far outside.”

Mikki Cappuccino
Mikki Cappuccino

Mikki Cappuccino

Yoshito Yahagi, trainer
“Watching his two races, even I find his performances remarkable. He didn’t start too well in the Habotan Sho and there was a lot of jostling going on in the first half, but that too was probably a good experience for him. In short, he’s talented all around, in training, in racing, and not just in one particular area, but overall. To be honest, before his debut, I hadn’t thought he’d come this far. The time between his last race and this one is perfect. He stayed at the training center and had his last serious fast work on Dec. 21. I had Keita Tosaki ride and they worked alone on the flat. My instructions were to run solidly to the end and his time and footwork were good. His last race sharpened him up. This time it’s a G1 and there are lots of strong horses and horses with excellent racing sense, so it’s not going to be an easy race. But his ability is extremely high and I’m very excited.”

Monde Plume

Takahiro Mizuno, trainer
“In his most recent race (Dec. 11), there was a lot of maneuvering and it was a difficult trip. Still, he put in a good effort. I see his temperament changing as he matures. The last time he raced on turf, he was still soft and he missed the break. Still, he ran well. Now, he’s stronger and we’ll see how well he can do. On Dec. 22 he worked over 5 furlongs on a heavy flat course and clocked 67.8 seconds. I put two horses ahead of him, but he ran alone. I think the work was satisfactory. I don’t want the ground to be too slow though. Just a little bit. I don’t expect him to have any problems over 2,000 meters.”

Phantom Thief
Phantom Thief

Phantom Thief

Takayuki Nagi, assistant trainer
“He ran a strong race on Sept. 24 (winning over the Chukyo 2,000 in the Nojigiku Stakes). Even though he circled on the outside, it was a good race. He had some issues and apparently didn’t like the kickback but he moved in to race amid the pack, which was a big accomplishment. He went to the farm and returned 2 months before this race. They took good care of him at the farm but we wanted to do the training here. On Dec. 14, we had him work alongside another horse and it was a little tough for him to keep up. I think it was good hard workout for him. And he’ll surely improve. On Dec. 21, the jockey rode and checked how well he listened, his maneuverability and his balance and his lead changes in the finish. Everything was good. On the 25th, he had a run up the hill course to let off any pent-up frustration. He has gotten a lot of work and will surely go into the race in good shape. He’s extremely smart and I get the impression his early training was very good. He has a huge stride and can run effortlessly. I think he does better with distance and, to be honest, I think a bigger course would suit him better. The change to Nakayama should be OK though and I expect him to improve from here on out. Even with it a G1, I have my expectations up.”

Sea Wizard

Yuichi Shikato, trainer
“He was able to handle the 2,000 meters of the Fuyo Stakes (at Nakayama in early October). In work Dec. 14, he wasn’t able to pass his training partner (Efforia) but he really turned in a good effort and had more in the tank. His movement was on a par and his footwork was good. He’s improving in leaps and bounds with each race. He can have difficulties working with his rider, but jockey Suguru Hamanaka has a very good rapport with him. And he has put on a lot of muscle. But it’s the improvement in his footwork that really shows how he’s matured. Already having experience over this course is going to stand him well. The competition will be stiffer, but he’s more relaxed now and things should go well if he can run with the pace. I’m looking forward to the race.”


Masanari Tanaka, assistant trainer
“It was a perfect winning performance breaking his maiden Nov. 12. After his debut, his footwork changed and that change carried over to his win. He had time off afterward, but we brought him back to the training center early to give him lots of gate practice. He trackwork is good too and, looking at how he won in November, I am very much looking forward to seeing how he’ll do here. On Dec. 23, he worked with another horse up a slightly heavy hill course. His lap times were fast. The ground was frozen and heavy so his footwork was a little dull in the end. But he moved well and covered the 4 furlongs in 51.4 seconds. He was slipping and it was difficult to run. Still, he moved well and I think his overall balance has gotten a lot better. He likes to run near the front. He does get upset at times so key will be how he weathers the trip to the track.”

Seven Magician
Seven Magician

Seven Magician

Tomokazu Takano, trainer
“He was a bit slow away in the Kigiku Sho and though he ended up racing from the back he put in a good effort and won strongly. To have won in a different way than he’d won his debut (racing in second position) shows his versatility. Since then, all has gone smoothly. With each race, he improves physically. It’s a leap to a G1, but I still expect to see a good race from him. On Dec. 14, he looked good under an assistant on the hill course. Then, on Dec. 21, we worked him up the hill again with another horse. His preparations have gone well and he looked sharp over the final furlong. His times weren’t flashy but everything has gone as planned. He has gained strength since his last race and I can see he has matured.”

Ska Paradise

Ryo Terashima, trainer
“He’s stronger behind now and that helped him make a solid break last out in the Erica Sho, but he was worried about other horses under way. He’s not willing to run amid the pack yet, so a rearward position is probably best. He also lost ground in the backstretch trying to maneuver into position. He’s fresh. I’d always had the plan to give him a prep and then aim for here. The jockey rode him on Dec. 22 on the flat over 6 furlongs. I’m hoping both he and the rider can gain some valuable experience here. I see the G1 as a challenge.”

Seina Imamura, jockey
“Maintaining a good rhythm is important for this horse. The connection between him and the rider is crucial. If you don’t get into any fights with him, I think he’ll travel very nicely. He also worked very well over a track that was slightly heavy.”

Top Knife

Mitsugu Kon, trainer
“He was in excellent shape for the Kyoto Nisai Stakes, and I thought he would give a good performance. But, unfortunately, he encountered interference in the final turn. That too is racing. Still, he was able to gain ground on the inside in the final stage and did give a show of strength in the homestretch. I think it was a good race. He’s learning a lot about racing from the jockey. During this period, he’s maturing faster than I had expected him to but he has always been cool and collected. He’s improving step by step and there haven’t been any problems. His strongpoint is that he learns on his own. If you race him, he learns it in one race. He worked under the jockey on Dec. 21 behind another horse who is in great shape now, so this one didn’t shine next to him but his movement was fine. He’ll learn more racing each time out. I’m looking forward to seeing how well he’ll measure up in a G1.”


Hiroshi Miyamoto, trainer
“His time up the hill on Dec. 13 was slow, but it was at a time of morning when the ground was torn up. He’s very maneuverable and he’s not afraid of other horses. On Dec. 22, Takeshi Yokoyama pushed him hard over 6 furlongs on the Ritto woodchip course for a time of 81 seconds flat. The horse is unruly in the preliminaries. He’ll jump around and act up but the jockey is used to him. Because of the haul to the track, the Dec. 22 workout was his last before the race. If he can move as well as he has been, he can do well. He responds very nicely when asked for more. He’s good in the gate now, and I think he’ll be able to handle Nakayama as well, so I’m looking forward to the race.”


Sources: Keiba Book, Gallop, Netkeiba

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