2023 News

November 17, 2023


Mile Championship (G1) - Comments from runners' connections
Bathrat Leon
Bathrat Leon

Bathrat Leon (horse, 5)

Takahide Ando, assistant trainer
“After his trip to the Korea Sprint in September, he took on the JBC Sprint at Oi Racecourse and that race saw him chasing the others from start to finish. There were very few good moments and from the results (seventh of 15) it does look like things were too busy for him. We just started him back in training on Wednesday of last week. His gait was stiff, but he’ll limber up with more work. There’s little time between races so I think just one fast workout right before the race should be sufficient. It’ll be his first time on turf since his trip to Saudi Arabia, but he has run in speed races before, so I don’t think it matters if it’s over turf or dirt. I think the extra distance will make it easier for him to run a race that suits him.”


Fuji TV Sho Spring Stakes (Japanese 2000 Guineas Trial) (G2)
Be Astonished

Be Astonished (colt, 4)

Yuzo Iida, trainer
“He wasn’t able to get a spot in the Swan Stakes, which was my first choice, so I took him to the Cassiopeia Stakes. He kept up to the pace and was traveling nicely, but I think the extra distance right after a spell was too much. Things have gone smoothly since then, and last week he worked alongside another horse up the hill course. His movement wasn’t bad. Seeing that he doesn’t get overly tense is also good. I think things are moving in the right direction for him. The competition is very high, but I do feel he has improved. The shorter distance this time is a plus for him. I’m hoping he’ll give it his all.”


NHK Mile Cup (G1)
Danon Scorpion

Danon Scorpion (colt, 4)

Keiichiro Yasuda, assistant trainer
“After the Yasuda Kinen, we worked on strengthening his hindlegs and they did get better, but I think the 59kg he was asked to carry in the Chukyo Kinen in his last start did, after all, hurt. According to the jockey, he didn’t respond well when leaving the gate, was late out, and because of that, the race was tough for him. He has been clocking good times on the hill course, but his balance is still not the best. We should be able to have him ready by raceday. He has ability, so I’m hoping he can find an opportunity to access that. I’d like him to have less of a relaxed race than he had last time and one that has him much more on his toes.”


Danon the Kid
Danon the Kid

Danon the Kid (horse, 5)

Takayuki Yasuda, trainer
“Before the Takarazuka Kinen, he’d raced in Hong Kong but hadn’t been able to go all out there. So, for the Takarazuka, I discussed it with the jockey and the plan was to get a good position and make a forward attack. Things went to plan, but from the results (13th of 17), I suppose the 2,200 meters was a bit too far for him. The ground was difficult and the race turned out to favor those that closed from further back. I had the impression that there were a number of factors that worked against him in that race. After he returned from the farm, everything went well and he’s gotten cleverer in a good way. He’s been able to handle all his work without losing weight, which is good and makes him much more reliable. He finished second last year and his condition is always good in this time of year. He’s good over 1,600 meters, so I’m hoping he can turn the tables this time.”


New Zealand Trophy (NHK Mile Cup Trial) (G2)

Eeyan (colt, 3)

Daishi Ito, trainer
“I didn’t consider the Mainichi Okan to be merely a stepping stone, so I got him in top condition. He did seem to be running tense in that race and I’d wanted to see a much bigger stride. Still, he looked good in places, so I did think he tried his best. He went to the farm after that and returned to the training center on Nov. 2. Last week, he had a hard workout up the new Miho hill course and he clocked the best time of the day. Even if you say he’s just good in work, he really does move well. This time there are a number of unknowns since it is the first time over the course, but I’m pretty sure he’ll find the Kyoto 1,600 meters easier than the Tokyo 1,800 meters. His range of movement has improved since his last race and he’s switched on and on his game. The competition is strong but I believe in him.”


Mainichi Okan (G2)
Elton Barows

Elton Barows (colt, 3)

Haruki Sugiyama, trainer
“The Mainichi Okan was his first time racing to the left in a while and it was 1,800 meters. Before the race, I was worried but I also had my hopes up. The jockey (Atsuya Nishimura) rode him very well and, to be honest, it was a better performance than I’d expected. It may have just been good timing, but I think Nishimura’s style and this horse’s style are well-suited to each other. He then went to the farm and returned to the training center fully recovered and refreshed. The overall time of his work last week was fast, but that was due in part to being on the flat as well as and having run up the inside. In the final stage, his acceleration was fantastic and his footwork was very good. This week’s final workout was the same as the workout prior to the Mainichi Okan. Nishimura rode, slow in the beginning, and then picked it up to check the horse’s responses. I think he looks fine and his responses have improved with the harder training he’s been getting. He’s definitely more suited to a right-handed track and 1,600 meters is his best distance. He’s up against older horses and G1 horses, and the difference between the weight he’s asked to carry and the others’ will be less than before. It’s not going to be easy. His strongpoint is his maneuverability. If he can get a good position, he’ll be able to keep up with the others.”


Sports Nippon Sho Kyoto Kimpai (G3)
Elusive Panther

Elusive Panther (horse, 5)

Takashi Kubota, trainer
“I spoke to the jockey (Mirai Iwata) before the Fuji Stakes about the race and said I’d like him to get a good position and race from there. He did that very well, but the way the race unfolded didn’t suit the horse. Nonetheless, he held his ground and really tried hard until the very end. Elusive Panther tends to wait to see what the others will do and I had hoped to see how a more forward strategy would be for him. I’d thought of the Fuji Stakes as a preliminary to the Mile Championship. Iwata said the horse had been very well in tune with the him and, though it was difficult going up the final hill, he seemed to get a second wind there, demonstrating that he’s quite strong. The Fuji Stakes acted as a good sharpener and he’s been easy to prepare for here. I kept him at the training center to help him recover and slowly brought him up to speed for the Mile Championship. He had interference in the Nakayama Kinen, but still ran well. He shouldn’t be thought of as a “left-handed racer.” I think the Kyoto course will suit him.”


Epsom Cup (G3)
Justin Cafe

Justin Cafe (horse, 5)

Shogo Yasuda, trainer
“He was traveling nicely in the Mainichi Okan, but he didn’t show his usual footwork in the finish. It was an unusually hot summer and once back at the training center, I felt that he seemed a bit too quiet, which wasn’t good. He has started to be rather agitated in training, which I actually think is a good thing. The says are cooler now and he has a better air about him now after morning training. I’m not placing so much importance on trying to keep him calm, but will allow him to be worked up and unruly. Hope that that gives him momentum heading in to the race. Recently, horses that race further back and close on the front from the final bend have been successful at Kyoto, so I think the course will suit him. There are a lot of strong horses in the lineup, but I think if this one can access what he has to the fullest, he’ll be able to do well.”


Matenro Orion
Matenro Orion

Matenro Orion (colt, 4)

Masaki Kon, assistant trainer
“In his most recent race, the Fuji Stakes, he was back racing for the first time since the Yasuda Kinen. He was racing from about midfield, and when things opened up for him, his responses were a bit slow. Still, his running was solid and he held his ground. He finished in fifth place, but I still think it was a good race. Last week, his fast work was alongside another horse on the woodchip course. His movement was good and he ran strongly to the end. The Fuji Stakes was a good prep, his training has gone well, and it looks like he’ll show improvement this time. Temperament-wise, he is calmer now and acting more like an older horse. I think the Kyoto course will suit him. The competition is strong, but the downhill slope should help and I hope he can give us a good performance.”


Fuji Stakes (G2)

Namur (filly, 4)

Tomokazu Takano, trainer
“In the Fuji Stakes, things opened up in the stretch and she was able to pull away. Because she was in good shape, she was able to split the ranks and gain. Like in the Yasuda Kinen, if she hadn’t been at her best, I think she wouldn’t have been able to move out. Things would have gotten tighter and it wouldn’t have ended well. She has had four G1 starts where she finished on the board, which shows she has a lot of talent. If she can get to the track in good shape, we will surely see her give a solid performance. She doesn’t lose weight easily like she used to. After a race, she is able to recover easily, so I am satisfied with her condition. I have the feeling that the older she gets the better she gets, and it’s with more and more depth, more capability. I don’t think there’s any reason to worry because it’s a G1. As I did last time, I’m focusing on getting her to the gate in the best shape she can be in.


Keio Hai Spring Cup (G2)
Red Mon Reve

Red Mon Reve (colt, 4)

Daisuke Tsumagari, assistant trainer
“Though he is rather difficult to prepare, in the Fuji Stakes last out, his footwork was good, the way he carried himself was good, and he was able to get a good position and bring out his talent. However, the winner (Namur) had a very ground-saving trip and when it was time to make her move, things opened up. So, with it all coming together for the other horse, losing to her was understandable. This one stayed at the training center after that and we went easy on him when he started back into training. We changed things up a bit and had him work over the polytrack on Nov. 8. He worked as he usually does and looked as he usually does. He was full of pep and showed no indication of fatigue. I think he’ll be able to handle his first time at Kyoto. If he is able to draw on the ability he has, I think he’ll be competitive at the G1 level. I have my hopes up.”


Yomiuri Milers Cup (G2)
Schnell Meister

Schnell Meister (horse, 5)

Shun Nabata, assistant trainer
“He couldn’t get a clear run in the Mainichi Okan final stage, which was unfortunate. As a step race, however, it wasn’t a bad race. After his fast work at Miho last week, he left for Ritto the following day. Things have gone smoothly since then. Actually, the fast work last week (Nov. 8) was meant to be the final important workout. He trained alongside another horse and it was a solid bit of work. The merit in taking him to Ritto early is what we learned in the spring, after seeing his good results in the Yomiuri Milers Cup. We realized that he did better with training that continued right up to the race. So, this fall we’re doing the same thing we did in the spring. It’s his second time at Ritto, so he’s calmer than he was in the spring and he’s eating well. Because we pushed him hard last week, this week was just a solo breeze for fine-tuning. His movement was good. This year, the race is back at Kyoto and one of the crucial points in the race will be the downhill slope turning out of the backstretch. He’ll need to have cover there, and I think that will work in his favor.”


Toyota Sho Chukyo Kinen (G3)

Selberg (colt, 4)

Takashi Suzuki, trainer
“For his last race (the Sekiya Kinen at Niigata), I’d been worried about the long trip to the track and if he’d be worked up by that, but he wasn’t that bad. Still, the Niigata track just doesn’t suit him. He wasn’t able to hold his ground over the long stretch. I did think about running him in the Summer Series, but he’s still only four-year-old and I didn’t want to push him too hard, so I sent him to the farm. Last week, he clocked 82.5 seconds over six furlongs on the woodchip course. He was training alone and we pushed him hard. His movement wasn’t bad and I think his overall work is sufficient. The flat stretch at Kyoto isn’t bad for him and we’ll just have to see how well he can do if he can run his own race. He’s not a popular pick, but we’ll be racing to win.”


Mile Championship (G1)

Serifos (colt, 4)

Mitsumasa Nakauchida, trainer
In the Yasuda Kinen, he drew inside gate (No. 4) which meant he wasn’t likely to get pushed to the outside, so the jockey waited patiently on the inside. Then he gained rapidly in the final stage. The winner was strong, but this one ran a very good race. After the summer, there were still a lot of high temperatures and things continued to be very tough on the horse. And due to that, we had to pass on the Fuji Stakes. After that, he recovered and has been doing well. Yuga Kawada rode fast work on Nov. 9 and this week. This week, I thought the horse was much improved and the jockey thought the same. Serifos was much better in tune with his rider this week and he’s no longer tense. His preparation this year was different from last year’s, so it’s not easy to compare them. This year he is coming off a spell, but he’ll go to the gate in good shape even when compared to last year. He’s able to access his power and he’s not one to have difficulties returning after time off. It will be his first time at Kyoto, with it ups and downs, and it’s his first time over a downhill slope. I hope to handle the course well.”


Challenge Cup (G3)
So Valiant

So Valiant (horse, 5)

Masahiro Otake, trainer
“The Fuji Stakes was his first race over a mile and the pace was different from what he’d experienced up to then, and the jockey (Kenichi Ikezoe) had to urge him on so he could catch up. Still, with a time of 1 minute, 32 seconds and third place in his first race over a mile, I could see he was suited to this distance. Ikezoe rode him last week and he trained behind another horse and closed on him from the outside. The training was to the left that day, so he didn’t catch the other horse, but it was a good hard workout. Thanks to his last start, his responses are sharper. He has experience over a mile now and if he can handle the pace, I think he’ll do better than he did in the Fuji Stakes. His performance is always better racing to the right, so that should help too. The change to Kyoto is a plus and he won’t be wearing the left cheekpiece that he’d worn last out.”


Keisei Hai Autumn Handicap (G3)
Soul Rush

Soul Rush (horse, 5)

Yuki Iwasaki, assistant trainer
“He started off his fall campaign with winning the Autumn Handicap carrying 59kg. He got a good position and held on for the win, which I think was quite an accomplishment, considering the runner-up (Win Greatest) went on to win the Grade 2 Swan Stakes after that. Soul Rush went to the farm after that, then returned to the training center on Oct. 24. He didn’t seem stiff anywhere or show any signs of damage and all has gone well. He clocked 11 seconds flat over the final furlong in his fast work two weeks in a row over the woodchip course. On Nov. 8, he did a real good job maintaining his concentration even once he’d passed his training partner. His movement is good and I’d say he has moved up a level. I think he’s gotten easier to ride. He’s a lot more even-keeled and I’m looking forward to the change to Kyoto.”



Sources: Keiba Book, Netkeiba, Radio Nikkei

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