Sprinters Stakes (G1) - Comments from Japanese runners' connections

Sprinters Stakes (G1) - Comments from Japanese runners' connections

The much anticipated return of Grade 1 action in Japan happens on Sunday, Sep. 30, when the Sprinters Stakes kicks off the second half of the year’s top level horseracing. The 52nd running of the race will be at Nakayama Racecourse in Chiba Prefecture, about an hour or so from downtown Tokyo.

Ares Barows (horse, 6)
Koichi Tsunoda, trainer
“He’s had his usual routine whereby after a race we send him to the farm to ‘reset’ him. There’s no change with him, and he’s maintained the condition he was in during the summer. A week ago he did his hard training, so this week we kept things easy with him and all has gone according to plan. He won’t have to transport over on the day, so that’s a plus. His last two wins put him in a good position to tackle the Nakayama course, and we’ll leave the rest to the jockey.”

Campbell Junior (horse, 6)
Kazutomo Mori, assistant trainer
“Last year he was running over 1,400 and 1,600 meters, but this year he’s run over 1,200 meters and has made the adjustment satisfactorily. Last time he drew an outside gate that kept him to the outside most of the race, but finished strongly to get within a short distance of the second horse. In this week’s training, he had no blinkers on and ran solo, but was far better than the week before, and his training load has been sufficient. Even though it’s a strong Grade 1 field, he’s capable of doing well, and that’s our hope for him here.”

Daimei Princess (mare, 5)
Naoyuki Morita, trainer
“She’s been doing her usual work and moving well uphill too, without necessarily posting fast times, but more importantly moving smoothly. Her body condition is good. Of course, it’s a tough Grade 1 race that won’t be easy, but I’m looking forward to what she can do here.”

Shinichiro Akiyama, jockey
“I’ve always thought she’s a horse with ability, and recently before a race, she’s been better and more relaxed. She’s able to give a lot more now. I need to think about how to get the best out of her. More than the draw, it’s important to get her settled in a good position.”

Sankei Sho Centaur Stakes (G2) - Fine Needle - Picture Japan Racing Association

Fine Needle (horse, 5)
Yoshitada Takahashi, trainer
“He’s a smart horse who runs well with a good rhythm, and what’s more he knows what to do, especially when it comes to switching on and off. I don’t think the 1,200 meters at Nakayama poses a problem, particularly the way he’s running right now. It’s been good working with him day by day, and hopefully we can achieve a big win for the Godolphin team.” 

Yoshinori Unoki, assistant trainer
“Last year he really wasn’t beaten by that much, and since then he’s continued to progress, so looking forward to the race, I really hope he’s able to show his best.”

Yuga Kawada, jockey
“Compared to when he was younger, he’s become easier to steer, and to handle in general. He does things well and has become more like a Grade 1 horse. Nakayama can be a little tricky, but it’s been a good start to the autumn, and we can look to the race with confidence.”

Hiruno Devaro (horse, 7)
Mitsugu Kon, trainer
“Last week in training, he was able to show that he’s in good condition, something similar to how he was for the Hakodate Sprint Stakes. This week it’s been enough to just keep him ticking over. He’s a challenger in this Grade 1 but is capable of quick times. I’m not sure about the state of the Nakayama course, but I want him to put in his best effort here.”

Let's Go Donki (mare, 6)
Tomoyuki Umeda, trainer
“In domestic Grade 1 sprint races, she’s finished second three times, and she was so close in last year’s Sprinters Stakes and this year’s Takamatsunomiya Kinen. Her rotation has been different going into this year’s Sprinters Stakes, and I’m not anxious about anything. She’s been doing her usual in training, and even though she’s getting older, I really want her to use her power and finally win another big race.”

Love Kampf (filly, 3)
Naoyuki Morita, trainer
“There hasn’t been much time between her races, but she’s managed to keep her condition, and we’ve made sure not to do too much with her. The ground hasn’t been good in training, consequently her times haven’t been too fast. She’s a small filly, but is tough and always tries hard, and I think she can run well even though the opposition’s strong.”

Moonquake (gelding, 5)
Kazuo Fujisawa, trainer
“The woodchip course has been heavy, so the horse’s times were slow this week. The jockey said the horse is moving well, however. It’ll be the second time for the horse to run over 1,200 meters, so it should go better for him this time.”

Hideyuki Chishima, assistant trainer
“It might not be his best distance, but he had experience of it last time, and it’s a question of him adjusting to things. The best thing is for him to get into the flow of the race and save something for the end of it.”

Nac Venus (mare, 5)
Hiroaki Sugiura, trainer
“There’s no change since her last race, and since the spring she seems to have filled out more. If another horse takes up the running in the race that’s fine, but it’s also all right for her to make the pace herself. I’d like to have an inside gate. I’m not sure how the track will be on the day, but it’s good to have the services of the jockey (Joao Moreira), and I’ll be leaving things up to him.”

Makoto Saito, trainer
“I think she’s done enough in training with the load we’ve given her, even though her times were slow and she didn’t adjust to the woodchip course, and this week we took it easy with her. At the beginning of the year, she wasn’t so strong mentally, but just recently she’s overcome that and has a real will to win. She was third last year when she could make her own pace, but we’ll have to think about things this time.”

Shu Ishibashi, jockey
“She was good in training last week and this week. In the Hakodate Sprint Stakes, she moved her head around a bit, but she’s more settled now and seems fine.”

Red Falx (horse, 7)
Tomohito Ozeki, trainer
“I’m satisfied with his condition and his responses in training this week have been good, particularly when approaching the fourth corner and going on from there. He’s had his gate practice, so hopefully things go well on that front. In my mind, I see him running a similar race to last year. We’ve been fortunate to be able to get Keita Tosaki to ride, and we’ll discuss things just before the race. The horse has a chance to win the race for the third time, so for the staff and everyone involved, I’m hoping for the best.”

Keita Tosaki, jockey
“He feels like a Grade 1 horse the minute you get on him. His last piece of work was very good, and he’s able to switch gears, along with his skillful footwork. He moves very well. One of the keys will be to get a good start and then get into the race smoothly.”

Rhein Spirit (horse, 7)
Masahiro Matsunaga, trainer
“He’s done well given the surface of the training track, and we worked particularly on his finish last week. He’s been able to put on a little weight and maintain it, and I’m satisfied with him.”

Tsugio Mori, assistant trainer
“He’s done his training as expected and hasn’t lost any weight. The opposition’s strong, but it’s important for him to run his own race and get to run right up to the finish. If things go his way, I believe he has a chance.”

Seiun Kosei (horse, 5)
Hiroyuki Uehara, trainer
“The horse is in better condition than at this time last year. He had a break at the Nishiyama farm where it was cooler, and where he also did some work training uphill. In last year’s race, he didn’t handle the rise up to the line so well, and it will be important for him to overcome this. Hopefully this time he’ll get a good early position and be able to maintain it. Even among the other strong horses, we know he’s capable of matching them and even beating them.”

Kenichi Ikezoe, jockey
“The horse has the ability to get to the front, and can do this well, even if he has to just see what other horse might go forward at the same time. I think he’s in better condition than he was for the Hakodate Sprint Stakes. It’s a Grade 1, so of course I want to win.”

Snow Dragon (horse, 10)
Noboru Takagi, trainer
“He won the race when it was at Niigata in 2014, and the last two years he’s finished fifth and fourth, so he can compete. This year he’ll be going straight to the race without a run in the Centaur Stakes, which is a slight concern. As for training, he did his hard work last week, and this week we kept it easy for him. For a 10-year-old, he’s in great shape, and I want him to give it his best shot here.”

Teehaff (horse, 8)
Katsuichi Nishiura, trainer
“When he wins, he does it well, but the last couple of races he didn’t, so I’d hope for a return to form like three starts ago. His condition is good. We’ve been working on his finish, but not pushing him too hard because of the heavy going on the training track. He seems younger than his age, and among the Grade 1 field, it’ll be important for him to adjust to the flow of the race.”