Mile Championship (G1) - Comments from runners' connections


Mile Championship (G1) - Comments from runners' connections

Air Spinel (colt, 4)
Kazuhide Sasada, trainer
“I think he actually found the sloppy track in the Fuji Stakes to his liking, but he also got a good position and a smooth trip for what was a great performance. I think it was a good prep for the Grade 1. He came out of that race well, despite the poor going and he’s over any fatigue and is calm and relaxed. I thought he’d get a bit better time in last week’s fast work, but [Yutaka Take] had an accident right before work and wasn’t able to ride and the track was slow as well. But his final lap time of 12.4 seconds wasn’t bad and it was good work for that stage of things. He had had good results over the Kyoto mile. He is also much more relaxed and more mature than he was, so if he can concentrate I think he’ll be able to get good results.”

America's Cup (colt, 3)
Hidetaka Otonashi, trainer
“He won the Kisaragi Sho, so I wasn’t worried about the sloppy track last start. And this horse tends to take the bit in his teeth, so the jockey stayed very quiet on him out of the gate. He had drawn wide so he didn’t have any traffic problems under way, was able to move up freely and, when he got to the front, he was able to take a breather. His weight was the same as when he came back in the spring, but he does look bigger, but looking at last race, it looks like he loses less weight going to Kyoto than to Hanshin. I can’t say he won’t take the bit in his teeth if he’s racing on a fast track in the pack. Since it’s a Grade 1 race, I don’t think the pace will be too slow. I’m hoping he can run well in hand.”

Black Moon (horse, 5)
Shoichi Nishiura, assistant trainer
“He was back from time off for the Fuji Stakes. We’d worked him in tandem for two weeks and pushed him pretty hard. But he was slow out of the gate and I think his preparation for the race may have been a bit too fast. The going was bad too in that race. He did gain ground in the final stage, but he wasn’t himself. He worked in tandem on Nov. 8 running from behind, then passing the other horse. He has sharpened up back to his normal self. He has a good late kick and the competition will be stronger than what he’s had before but I think he has a chance.”

Danon Major (horse, 5)
Shinsuke Hashiguchi, trainer
“He looked good going into the Swan Stakes and he kept up with the pace nicely, but I think he didn’t have the turn of foot that the top finishers had over 1,400 meters. He’s looking good now. Last start, he had room for improvement and I think he’ll show that he has improved this time. We worked him on Nov. 10 and, this week, pushed him in the final stage. He’s a good starter and I think things will be easier for him at this distance. He has always been good at Kyoto, the distance suits him and he’s in good shape. It’d be good if the track was a little slow, so a bit of rain would be a plus.”

Garibaldi (horse, 6)
Nobuyuki Tashiro, assistant trainer
“He had nothing left in the finish of the Fuji Stakes, but with the going as bad as it was, it was a tough race. It was a bad track but since he hadn’t gone all out, he came out of the race well and we were able to get him back in work right away. Last week, he had a good fast workout and a final lap time of 12 seconds. He hasn’t lost condition and I’d say he’s in about the same shape he was in before this race last year. He has a real nice way of moving and a fast track would be best for him. He went flat out in the end last year and only finished 0.4 seconds off the winner. It was a good race and he can hold his own amid Grade 1 competition.”

Grand Silk (horse, 5)
Hirofumi Toda, trainer
“The Fuji Stakes results can be disregarded due to the sloppy track. Jockey Hironobu Tanabe said he ‘didn’t overdo it in the finish,’ and he came out of the race without injury. He was over any fatigue right away and from two weeks ago we had him working in tandem. We pushed him hard last week since it’s a Grade 1 race. He took an outside track, so his time reflected the extra ground covered and we also pushed him past the finish line, so he got more of a workout than his time would indicate. He worked in tandem on Nov. 15 as well and up the hill on Nov. 17. It’ll be his first time at Kyoto, but the outer course is good for a horse like him that run at speed at length. I’m hoping for a fast track.”

Isla Bonita, picture Japan Racing Association

Isla Bonita (horse, 6)
Ryo Sato, assistant trainer
“The Fuji Stakes was his first race in four months and he was racing on a sloppy track for the first time. On top of that he had an outside gate. They were very tough conditions. Still, with all that, he came to within two lengths of the winner, so I think he measures up just fine. He ran solidly to the end too. He came out of the race well and has been full of energy as usual. On Nov. 3 we gave him a long workout and last week he worked together with another horse. He always improves from a race and he looks to have done so this time too. I can’t say he’s a standout, but I do think he’s up there with the best. Last year, he finished in second by a head. Other than his run in the Yasuda Kinen this year, he has been consistent. I’m hoping luck will finally come his way.”

Jo Strictly (colt, 3)
Hisashi Shimizu, trainer
“I think his poor results last time out were mainly due to it being his first race in a while and the poor going. He was pretty beat by the turn home. It was also his first time up against older horses. So, with all that, it was a lot to deal with. In his work last week he had some good lap times in the beginning, but he slowed towards the end, so we had to push him. I don’t think the course will be a factor. He has good racing sense and can run from any position. His breathing will have to be different and the competition is strong. Let’s see how well he can do.”

Kluger (horse, 5)
Tomokazu Takano, trainer
“The winds of fortune were blowing our way to get into the lineup. I really wanted to race him in the Grade 1 and I didn’t give up. We were very fortunate to get in. In this week’s workout, he looked to quicken over the last furlong and his movement was good. He usually moves well in morning work but he looked especially good. He’s in his best shape now. The staff at the farm have really done a great job. He has no issues now and just a little tweaking will do. He is really in great shape. He has great ability and from the time he was 2 years old, I’ve been hoping he could become a stud. But he suffered a fracture and couldn’t make the top-level races, but finally he has. I hope he can show people just what a good horse he is. I want to win just for his sake.

Maltese Apogee (horse, 5)
Masahiro Horii, trainer
“He’s having some bad starts these days and in the Keisei Hai Autumn Handicap he wasn’t able to move right off from the gate. And I think he used up too much at the beginning. He did try hard, but the 58kg assigned weight probably affected him somewhat. We gave him time off and he came back to Miho Training Center on Oct. 18. He was in good shape and refreshed. He’s never been good in the summer and since fall he has improved. He’s had two strong workouts these past two weeks and I think with the haul to the track, his weight should be down about 10kg. This week I breezed him. Kyoto doesn’t have a hill in the stretch and the fact that he’ll be carrying 57kg are both pluses.”

Moon Crest (horse, 5)
Masamichi Wada, trainer
“There’s no change with her, and her movement’s been good in training. She’s a horse we don’t worry about finding her rhythm in a race, and though this will be her first time over the trip, I don’t see any problems. It really is a question of her running a smooth race and giving it her best in a Grade 1.”

Persian Knight (colt, 3)
Yasutoshi Ikee, trainer
“He is by Harbinger but he takes after his dam’s side a lot. He doesn’t do well on a slow track like he had last start. He was also coming off a spell and competing against older horses for the first time. In the spring, I’d trained him with the classics in mind, so I think he was a bit flummoxed by the mile. He improved a lot after that and he looks good now and I think we’ll see that he has sharpened up this time. On Nov. 9, I had him catch the horse ahead and his responses, movement were good. The jockey rode him this week. He has filled out from the spring and I don’t think he’ll be bad at Kyoto. It’s a mile again but I think we’ll see a change there as well.”

Red Falx (horse, 6)
Tomohito Ozeki, trainer
“His fast work on Nov. 1 was a bit slower than I’d wanted but his workout on Nov. 4 improved that. Last week he worked in tandem and I think that got him switched on. I think he’ll go to the gate in good shape. Christian Demuro rode him this week and gave him a tough workout. The mile may be a bit long for him and compared to last year’s Sprinters Stakes he seemed a bit less forward this year. But, he ran third in the Yasuda Kinen, so I think he can handle it. I think the haul to the track will be OK too but key will be how he takes to the course itself. He can be a bit stiff and not the best on a downhill slope but he has limbered up now and that is a plus. We’ve been working him with the Kyoto slope in mind. I’m hoping he’ll be able to handle it.”

Reine Minoru (filly, 3)
Hitoshi Nakai, assistant trainer
“With the track as bad as it was in the Shuka Sho, what can you expect? It took a toll on her stamina. She didn’t overdo it, but the pace was fast and the race demanded both power and stamina. We put her out for a bit and she returned to the training center on Nov. 2. She had been in tiptop shape last start and I had been worried about her being too on edge, but she came back nice and fresh. No injuries and no fatigue. She worked from behind last week and the instructions were to just push her in the final stages. Considering the track condition, I’d say the time was good. The jockey said, ‘She’s smart and an honest horse,’ and I think he got a good handle on her. She has gotten good results over this distance before but she’s up against older horses and male horses, so it’s not going to be easy.”

Satono Aladdin (horse, 6)
Yuga Kawada, jockey
“He’s bothered by even a little rain, so the conditions in the Tenno Sho (Autumn) were really bad for him. He couldn’t run at all. In work this morning [Nov. 15] we worked as usual in a group of three and had him come up from behind and really stretch out at the finish. He wasn’t tired after the Tenno Sho, so I didn’t feel any of that. I think he’s come along as usual. He had been in really good shape for the Tenno Sho and I’d say he has maintained that condition. He definitely is best suited to the Tokyo mile. Still, last year he raced from the innermost bracket, which does not suit him. He ran well balanced until the straight and it was a shame he didn’t finish further up in the placing order. An outer draw suits him more, but my biggest worry is the weather. I’m hoping he’ll have good weather and a nice fast track like he did in the Yasuda Kinen.”

Sungrazer (colt, 3)
Yuichi Fukunaga, jockey
“He felt good today [Nov. 15]. He worked at a 15-15 pace and I had him move out a bit in the finish. His time was a little fast, but he didn’t overdo it. I think he’s done a fantastic job. His results have been superb. Two starts ago, he had a bit of a hard time getting to the front over 1,400 meters, so I think the mile won’t be a problem. He’s on his toes and has a lot of potential. I think he can rise to the challenge.”

Keiichi Asami, assistant trainer
“I’d always thought he had great racing ability but in the beginning his immaturity got in the way. He’s gotten experience at the distance and long hauls to the track, and I think he’s now able to use what he’s learned from the jockey. In the Swan Stakes, his experience from the summer over the same kind of turf helped and even with the heavy going he was able to quicken and raced well in hand too. He’s had heavy ground twice in a row and races can take a lot out of him so I was worried, but we gave him time off and all has gone well. This time, the conditions are the same as his last start. The track is closer and he’s more mature now, so he should be able to handle the fast pace of a Grade 1. He can handle softer ground but I’d like to see him get a fast track.”

Win Gagnant (horse, 5)
Masato Nishizono, trainer
“In the Sekiya Kinen, he raced from second position but the overall pace was strong and he had a good lead. He ran solidly to the end and I think it was a good race. We gave him time off and then brought him back to the training center about a month ago. He came back in good shape. On Nov. 9, he worked up the hill and even though it didn’t look like it, his time was 50.8 seconds. Before, he’d never given you that kind of time even if you pushed him. He’s gotten stronger, has had ample work and things look good. Recently, he’s had good results racing to the left but he has done well to the right as well. People still think of him as a horse for the hot summer months, but he’s stronger now and shouldn’t have problems.”

Young Man Power (horse, 5)
Takahisa Tezuka, trainer
“He was fifth in the Mainichi Okan. The lineup was strong and I think the distance was a bit too long for him. But you have to give him high marks for looking good at points over a tough course like the Tokyo 1,800m. Last year, he went to this race from the Fuji Stakes, but I thought it’d be better with more time between races so I gave him this rotation. There used to be the danger of him losing weight during the trip to the track, but this year I didn’t have to figure that into thing when getting him ready. On Nov. 8, he ran with his head high once we put the pressure on, but that’s his style and his movement wasn’t bad. Last year, he didn’t get to give it his all. This year, the same jockey will be up and I think, from looking at his Milers Cup results, that he has a chance at making the top spots.”