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The JRA’s 2019 horse racing season will start in earnest with the three-year-old classic trials in March as horses begin to prepare towards the spring G1 events. In this special Spring edition of our international newsletter, we are pleased to bring you up to date on the progress of last year’s stars and this season’s key runners, part of our ongoing effort to support your reporting of JRA events.

High Expectations for Almond Eye's Further Success

Challenges abroad by Japanese-trained horses resulted in one or more G1 titles every year from 2011 to 2017, but expectations are high for renewed success this spring when a number of top Japanese runners will seek success against international competitors.

The focus is centered on Almond Eye (JPN, F4, by Lord Kanaloa), JRA’s 2018 Horse of the Year and winner of the fillies’ Triple Crown, who is slated to run in the Dubai Turf (G1, 1,800m) on March 30. Trainer Sakae Kunieda explained the reason why he chose the Dubai Turf instead of the Dubai Sheema Classic (G1, 2,410m), stating that “the filly is more comfortable at 1,800 meters” and that “Japanese runners have come up with favorable results at this distance in the past three Dubai Turf races, producing two wins and a second.”

The coming Dubai Turf will be Almond Eye’s first start in four months, since she claimed the Japan Cup (G1, 2,400m) in a record 2:20.6. Her Shuka Sho (G1, 2,000m) victory last autumn came off a five-month break following a victory in the Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks, G1, 2,400m), so the only concern will be whether she can handle the long overseas travel. Her racing plan for this year after the Dubai Turf is yet to be determined but expectations are running high for a long-awaited Japanese title in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1, 2,400m) in the fall, so the outcome of her first overseas trip this spring is attracting much attention.

Two other Japanese runners will start in the Dubai Turf, including Vivlos (JPN, M6, by Deep Impact), who won the race in 2017 but was second last year. The Deep Impact (JPN, by Sunday Silence) mare has been winless since, finishing fourth and eighth after her return to Japan, but she was second in the Hong Kong Mile (G1, 1,600m) in December and reversed her retirement plan as of the end of 2018 for another shot at claiming her second Dubai Turf title.

The other Dubai Turf entrant, 2017 Shuka Sho winner Deirdre (JPN, M5, by Harbinger), placed third in the race last year. She followed up two more grade-race titles back home and then confirmed her ability to travel well with a runner-up effort in the Hong Kong Cup (G1, 2,000m).

The Dubai Sheema Classic has three Japanese starters. 2017 Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby, G1, 2,400m) victor Rey de Oro (JPN, H5, by King Kamehameha), who was affected by the slow pace in last year’s race and finished fourth, won his comeback start in the fall and registered his second G1 title in the Tenno Sho (Autumn) (G1, 2,000m). The subsequent 2018 Best Older Colt or Horse was a neck short in the year-end Arima Kinen (G1, 2,500m), carrying 2 kg more than the winner.

Suave Richard (JPN, H5, by Heart’s Cry) claimed his first G1 title in the Osaka Hai (G1, 2,000m) last year. Winless in three G1 starts thereafter, but finishing third in two, he passed up the Arima Kinen to prepare for his first overseas challenge in Dubai.

The 2017 Japan Cup victor, Cheval Grand (JPN, H7, by Heart’s Cry), is also winless since but remains consistent over distances of 2,400 meters or more, finishing second and third in the Tenno Sho (Spring) (G1, 3,200m) and the Arima Kinen, respectively. The mature seven-year-old has plans for more overseas travel if he’s successful in Dubai.

The Dubai World Cup (G1, dirt, 2,000m) will be contested by K T Brave (JPN, H6, by Admire Max), winner of the 2017 Teio Sho (dirt, 2,000m), 2018 Kawasaki Kinen (dirt, 2,100m) and JBC Classic (dirt, 1,900m). Although disappointed to 11th as second favorite in last year’s Champions Cup (G1, dirt, 1,800m), the son of Admire Max (JPN, by Sunday Silence) is well suited over distances between 1,900 and 2,100 meters at which he has registered 6-4-2 out of 14 starts. The key will be how well he is able to handle the dirt surface in Dubai.

Matera Sky (USA, H5, by Speightstown) makes his second consecutive Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1, dirt, 1,200m) challenge this year. Fifth last year, the US-bred five-year-old won his first two starts back in Japan, including his first grade-race victory, and emerged as a top-class dirt sprinter, finishing a neck-second in the JBC Sprint (dirt, 1,200m) in the fall.

Nonkono Yume (JPN, G7, by Twining), winner of the 2018 February Stakes (G1, dirt, 1,600m), will be running in the Godolphin Mile (G2, dirt, 1,600m). Three-year-old Derma Louvre (JPN, C3, by Pyro), who has three wins including the Hyogo Junior Grand Prix (dirt, 1,400m) out of six starts on dirt, will start in the UAE Derby (G2, dirt, 1,900m) and possibly challenge the U.S. Triple Crown depending on the outcome of the race.

Among the above-mentioned Dubai challengers, Suave Richard and Deirdre both kicked off their 2019 campaigns in the Nakayama Kinen (G2, 1,800m) on February 24, finishing fourth and sixth, respectively.

Runners traveling overseas other than to Dubai include Kluger (JPN, H7, by King Kamehameha) who will fly to Australia for the Doncaster Mile (G1, 1,600m) on April 6. The King Kamehameha (JPN, by Kingmambo) horse was sidelined for a year after sustaining a knee fracture in his right foreleg following a victory in the 2016 Milers Cup (G2, 1,600m). Since then he has only managed a second and a third at the G3 level.

Lys Gracieux (JPN, M5, by Heart's Cry) will head for the Hong Kong’s Queen Elizabeth II Cup (G1, 2,000m) on April 28 after a runner-up effort in the Kinko Sho (G2, 2,000m) on March 10. The 2018 Best Older Filly or Mare scored her first G1 victory in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup (G1, 2,200m) last fall, and then finished second in the Hong Kong Vase (G1, 2,400m), proving herself well suited to the track in Hong Kong. Win Bright (JPN, H5, by Stay Gold), who has already scored two wins this season and successfully defended his title in the Nakayama Kinen, will join Lys Gracieux in the Hong Kong’s Queen Elizabeth II Cup.

Four-Year-Olds Likely Lead Spring G1 Campaign in Japan

Last season’s three-year-old group upstaged their senior rivals by claiming the majority of fall G1 majors, including the Mile Championship (G1, 1,600m), the Japan Cup, the Champions Cup and the Arima Kinen. This year they are likely to continue dominating into their four-year-old seasons. The Osaka Hai on March 31 will stage a line-up of top turf runners of all ages beginning with a tough group of four-year-olds, including Arima Kinen champion Blast Onepiece (JPN, C4, by Harbinger), who could be targeted at the Arc depending on how his spring campaign progresses.

Wagnerian (JPN, C4, by Deep Impact), who out-finished Blast Onepiece in the Tokyo Yushun, proceeded to win the Kobe Shimbun Hai (G2, 2,400m) in his fall debut but was turned out for the rest of the season to recover properly and start fresh into his four-year-old season, which begins with the Osaka Hai.

Stelvio (JPN, C4, by Lord Kanaloa), fourth and eighth in his two classic starts, demonstrated his best form over a mile when the 2017 Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes (G1, 1,600m) runner-up claimed his first G1 title against his seniors in the Mile Championship last fall. Meanwhile, Epoca d’Oro (JPN, C4, by Orfevre) won the Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas, G1, 2,000m) and was also a close second in the Tokyo Yushun. In the fall, however, he was unable to maintain his form, finishing fourth and eighth, and then was given the rest of season off after the Kikuka Sho (Japanese St. Leger, G1, 3,000m). Both Stelvio and Epoca d’Oro kicked off their four-year-old seasons in the Nakayama Kinen, collecting a third and a fifth, respectively.

The 2017 Kikuka Sho winner Kiseki (JPN, H5, by Rulership) remains one of the most consistent five-year-olds, having finished third in the Tenno Sho (Autumn) and second in the Japan Cup. Other Osaka Hai starters from the five-year-old group include Al Ain (JPN, H5, by Deep Impact) and Persian Knight (JPN, H5, by Harbinger), winners of the Satsuki Sho and the Mile Championship, respectively, during their three-year-old seasons. Both horses also ran in the Kinko Sho, finishing fourth and fifth, respectively, along with 2018 Tenno Sho (Autumn) runner-up Sungrazer (JPN, H5, by Deep Impact) and multiple grade-race winners Danburite (JPN, H5, by Rulership) and Stiffelio (JPN, H5, by Stay Gold).

Mozu Katchan (JPN, M5, by Harbinger), the 2017 Queen Elizabeth II Cup winner, was unable to recover after finishing ninth in the Kinko Sho and will pass up her entry in the Osaka Hai.

Although 2016 Best Three-Year-Old Colt Satono Diamond (JPN, by Deep Impact) and last year’s Takarazuka Kinen (G1, 2,200m) victor Mikki Rocket (JPN, by King Kamehameha) have both retired to stud, derby winner Makahiki (JPN, H6, by Deep Impact) remains in training to face the aforementioned younger age group in the Osaka Hai, coming off a third-place finish in the Kyoto Kinen (G2, 2,200m) on February 10.

In addition to the Osaka Hai runners headed for the Tenno Sho (Spring) on April 28 as their next target, other probable starters in the race include Glory Vase (JPN, C4, by Deep Impact), winner of this year’s Nikkei Shinshun Hai (G2, 2,400m) on January 13, and Sciacchetra (JPN, H6, by Manhattan Cafe), who kicked off the year with a win in the American Jockey Club Cup and turned in an overwhelming five-length victory in the Hanshin Daishoten (G2, 3,000m) on March 17.

Fierement (JPN, C4, by Deep Impact), 2018 Kikuka Sho champion, kicked off his 2019 season with a runner-up effort in the American Jockey Club Cup (G2, 2,200m) on January 20. While 2018 Kikuka Sho third-place You Can Smile (JPN, C4, by King Kamehameha) will come off his first graded win in the Diamond Stakes (G3, 3,400m) on February 16, Etario (JPN, C4, by Stay Gold), runner-up in the 2018 Kikuka Sho, is expected to come off his four-year-old season kick-off, the Nikkei Sho (G2, 2,500m) on March 23, prior to the Tenno Sho (Spring).

The JRA’s turf G1 begins with the Takamatsunomiya Kinen (G1, 1,200m) on March 24 at Chukyo Racecourse. Last year’s champion and 2018 Best Sprinter or Miler Fine Needle (JPN, by Admire Moon) has retired from racing, so attention has shifted to Danon Smash (JPN, C4, by Lord Kanaloa). The four-year-old, since stepping down in distance to 1,200 meters last summer, has proved successful with back-to-back graded victories in the Keihan Hai (G3, 1,200m) on November 25 and the Silk Road Stakes (G3, 1,200m) on January 27.

The field will also include 2017 Takamatsunomiya Kinen winner Seiun Kosei (JPN, H6, by Admire Moon), who finished 15th in his 2019 kick-off in the Silk Road Stakes; Dea Regalo (JPN, M5, by Manhattan Cafe), who registered her first grade-race title in the Kyoto Himba Stakes (G3, 1,400m) on February 16; last year’s Takamatsunomiya Kinen runner-up Let’s Go Donki (JPN, M7, by King Kamehameha), who is coming off a second in the Hankyu Hai (G3, 1,400m) on February 24; and Mozu Superflare (USA, F4, by Speightstown) and Nac Venus (JPN, M6, by Daiwa Major), who finished first and second, respectively, in the Ocean Stakes (G3, 1,200m) on March 2.

The Victoria Mile (G1, 1,600m) on May 12 for four-year-old-and-up fillies/mares is without the now-retired defending champion, Jour Polaire (JPN, by Deep Impact), and last year’s runner-up Lys Gracieux, who will be away in Hong Kong. This will raise the chances for Aerolithe (JPN, M5, by Kurofune), fourth last year and a G1 winner in the 2017 NHK Mile Cup, who hopes to bounce back from her ninth-place finish in the Pegasus World Cup Turf (G1, 1,900m) in the USA on January 26. The Kurofune (JPN, by French Deputy) mare has a record of 3-2-0 out of six starts at Tokyo Racecourse.

Also aiming for a second G1 title in the Victoria Mile is Lucky Lilac (JPN, F4, by Orfevre), the 2017 Best Two-Year-Old Filly, who was winless in her three-year-old fillies’ Triple Crown last year, finishing no higher than second in the Oka Sho (Japanese 1000 Guineas, G1, 1,600m). The Orfevre (JPN, by Stay Gold) filly was second in the Nakayama Kinen, her first start of this season. Four-time graded winner Miss Panthere (JPN, M5, by Daiwa Major) finished fifth in the Kyoto Himba Stakes (G3, 1,400m) on February 16. Both Lucky Lilac and Miss Panthere will be starting in the Hanshin Himba Stakes (G2, 1,600m) on April 6.

Frontier Queen (JPN, M6, by Meisho Samson), winner of the Nakayama Himba Stakes (G3, 1,800m) on March 9, is scheduled to head towards the Victoria Mile. Connections of 2017 Victoria Mile champion Admire Lead (JPN, M6, by Stay Gold) announced her retirement following the Stay Gold (JPN, by Sunday Silence) mare’s 10th-place finish in the Nayakayama Himba Stakes.

Last year’s Yasuda Kinen (G1, 1,600m) champion Mozu Ascot (USA, H5, by Frankel) was defeated to 13th due to disadvantages in the fall Mile Championship and was seventh in the following Hong Kong Mile. The son of Frankel (GB, by Galileo) is hoped to pick up his form this year beginning with the Milers Cup on April 21 or the Keio Hai Spring Cup (G2, 1,400m) on May 11. Smart Odin (JPN, H6, by Danon Chantilly), who scored his fourth grade-race title in the Hankyu Hai, will also run in the Keio Hai Spring Cup prior to the Yasuda Kinen on June 2.

Meanwhile, 2017 Best Two-Year-Old Colt Danon Premium (JPN, C4, by Deep Impact), who was sidelined with a hoof problem after finishing sixth in the Tokyo Yushun last year, will be stepping down in distance. After a dominating performance in his comeback start, the Kinko Sho, he will pass up the Osaka Hai in favor of the Milers Cup in mid-April and then head for the Yasuda Kinen.

The Yasuda Kinen is expected to include runners from the Osaka Hai as well, including Stelvio, Persian Knight and Al Ain. Aerolithe is also expected to aim for the title after her start in the Victoria Mile. Other possible Yasuda Kinen starters include Pax Americana (JPN, C4, by Kurofune), winner of the Kyoto Kimpai (G3, 1,600m) on January 5, Indy Champ (JPN, C4, by Stay Gold), winner of the Tokyo Shimbun Hai (G3, 1,600m) on February 3, and 2018 NHK Mile Cup (G1, 1,600m) winner Keiai Nautique (JPN, C4, by Deep Impact)—with all three colts slated to run in the Milers Cup in April prior to the Yasuda Kinen.

Oju Chosan (JPN, H8, by Stay Gold), the three-time (2016-2018) Best Steeplechase Horse, switched to flat racing following his victory in the Nakayama Grand Jump (J-G1, 4,250m) and was not disgraced when beaten to ninth in the “All-Star” Arima Kinen. The history-making jumper made his 2019 comeback over obstacles and landed his 10th graded title in the Hanshin Spring Jump (J-G2, 3,900m) on March 9. He will aim for a fourth title in the Nakayama Grand Jump on April 13.

Nihonpiro Baron (JPN, H9, by Fusaichi Richard), who won the Nakayama Daishogai (J-G1, 4,100m) last December in Oju Chosan’s absence and will make his first start since then in the Nakayama Grand Jump, will face the defending champion against whom he finished third last year.

The first JRA-G1 event of the season, the February Stakes, was won by Inti (JPN, H5, by Came Home), who came off a six-race winning streak to out-finish 2017 Best Dirt Horse Gold Dream (JPN, H6, by Gold Allure) by a neck, landing him his first G1 title. Inti and Gold Dream will join 2018 Best Dirt Horse Le Vent Se Leve (JPN, C4, by Symboli Kris S), who passed up the February Stakes with a minor problem in his left foreleg, in the Kashiwa Kinen (Dirt 1,600m) on May 6 and then the Teio Sho (dirt, 2,000) on June 26.

Three-Year-Old Classic Hopefuls

Aspiring three-year-olds are picking up steam towards their Classics bids. The Hanshin Juvenile Fillies (G1, 1,600m) victor, Danon Fantasy (JPN, F3, by Deep Impact), commenced her 2019 season in the Tulip Sho (G2, 1,600m) at Hanshin Racecourse on March 2, which is the main prep towards the first leg of the Triple Crown for fillies, the Oka Sho. The Best Two-Year-Old Filly of 2018, trapped behind a wall of horses in the early stretch, switched paths to the outside at the furlong marker and charged home to victory a length ahead of Shigeru Pink Dia (JPN, F3, by Daiwa Major) and Noble Score (JPN, F3, by Deep Impact), who was a nose late in third, as the three secured their tickets to the Oka Sho. 2018 Artemis Stakes (G3, 1,600m) winner Schon Glanz (JPN, F3, by Deep Impact) was fifth in the Tulip Sho.

No One (JPN, F3, by Heart’s Cry) and Pourville (JPN, F3, by Le Havre) earned their Oka Sho bookings a week later in the Fillies’ Revue (G2, 1,400m), where they tied for the win in a dead-heat photo-finish. They will be joined by Juranville (JPN, F3, by Kinshasa no Kiseki), who was a half-length back in third. Regard Calme (JPN, F3, by Lord Kanaloa) and Red Aster (JPN, F3, by Deep Impact) were also granted berths in the coming first leg of the fillies’ triple as the top two finishers in the Anemone Stakes (Listed, 1,600m), another Oka Sho trial that was held on the same day as the Fillies’ Revue. Red Aster made rapid headway rounding the last two turns but was a 3/4-length short of the winner, Regard Calme, who displayed a good burst of speed from a handy position earlier.

Prior to the above trial races, the Hanshin Juvenile Fillies runner-up Chrono Genesis (JPN, F3, by Bago) and third-place finisher Beach Samba (JPN, F3, by Kurofune) kicked off their three-year-old campaigns in the Queen Cup (G3, 1,600m) on February 11. Together they stormed down the stretch, picking off most of the field after advancing from rearward positions, before Chrono Genesis claimed a hard-fought win by holding off Beach Samba, who reached the wire a neck behind in second.

Other key runners among the Oka Sho field will include Figlia Pura (JPN, F3, by Harbinger) and Aqua Mirabilis (JPN, F3, by Victoire Pisa), who respectively claimed the Fairy Stakes (G3, 1,600m) on January 12 and the Elfin Stakes (Listed, 1,600m) on February 2. Gran Alegria (JPN, F3, by Deep Impact), who finished third against male opponents in the Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes, will make her three-year-old season debut in the Oka Sho. Contra Check (JPN, F3, by Deep Impact), winner of the Flower Cup (G3, 1,800m) on March 16, is likely to head for the Yushun Himba, the second leg of the fillies Triple Crown.

The 2018 Best Two-Year-Old Colt, Admire Mars (JPN, C3, by Daiwa Major), concluded a flawless two-year-old season by going undefeated in all four starts, including the Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes, but kicked off this season with a second by 1-1/4 lengths in the Kyodo News Service Hai (G3, 1,800m) on February 10. The Daiwa Major (JPN, by Sunday Silence) colt ran out of steam after setting the pace and was caught before the furlong marker by the hard-charging Danon Kingly (JPN, C3, by Deep Impact), who displayed a good turn of foot from sitting off the pace in third earlier. Admire Mars will now head towards the Satsuki Sho on April 14 then the NHK Mile Cup on May 6. Kyoto Nisai Stakes (G3, 2,000m) victor Courageux Guerrier (JPN, C3, by King Kamehameha) was four lengths further back in third.

On March 3, Meisho Tengen (JPN, C3, by Deep Impact) claimed the Yayoi Sho (G2, 2,000m), the main trial race towards the Satsuki Sho, by holding off a hard-charging Schwarz Riese (JPN, C3, by Heart’s Cry) and Breaking Dawn (JPN, C3, by Victoire Pisa) in third, all three earning their tickets to the first leg of the Triple Crown. Meanwhile, two-time graded winner and Hopeful Stakes (G1, 2,000m) third-place finisher Nishino Daisy (JPN, C3, by Harbinger) and Keisei Hai (G3, 2,000m) victor Last Draft (JPN, C3, by Novellist) were sent off as the top two favorites in that order but finished fourth and seventh, respectively.

Other qualifiers for the Satsuki Sho include Velox (JPN, C3, by Just a Way) and World Premiere (JPN, C3, by Deep Impact), the top two finishers in the Wakaba Stakes (Listed, 2,000m) on March 16, and Emeral Fight (JPN, C3, by Kurofune), who bested a four-horse rally in the Spring Stakes (G2, 1,800m) on the following day, ahead of Fantasist (JPN, C3, by Lord Kanaloa) and Dixie Knight (JPN, C3, by Daiwa Major) in second and third. Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes runner-up Kurino Gaudi (JPN, C3, by Screen Hero) tired from setting the pace in the Spring Stakes and finished sixth.

Other notable Satsuki Sho contenders include Satono Lux (JPN, C3, by Deep Impact), who registered his third consecutive win in the Sumire Stakes (Listed, 2,200m) on February 24, and the 2018 Hopeful Stakes runner-up Admire Justa (JPN, C3, by Just a Way), who finished a 0.2 second behind in second. Saturnalia (JPN, C3, by Lord Kanaloa), the 2018 Hopeful Stakes champion, will head straight to the Satsuki Sho while Danon Chaser (JPN, C3, by Deep Impact), winner of the Kisaragi Sho (G3, 1,800m) on February 3, will pass the first leg of the Triple Crown and aim for a G1 title in the NHK Mile Cup on May 5 before proceeding to the Tokyo Yushun on May 26.

The New Zealand Trophy (G2, 1,600m) at Nakayama Racecourse on April 6 and the Arlington Cup (G3, 1,600m) at Hanshin on April 13 are regarded as trial races for the NHK Mile Cup, with Val d’Isere (JPN, C3, by Lord Kanaloa), who won the Shinzan Kinen (G3, 1,600m) on January 6, scheduled to run in the latter.

Takamatsunomiya Kinen (G1) - Preview20 Mar 5:04 pm

Top racing action is back just over a month from the February Stakes. This Sunday, March 24, Nagoya’s Chukyo Racecourse will host 2019’s first Grade 1 event over turf – the 1,200-meter Takamatsunomiya Kinen, a race that decides the spring’s top sprinter.

Twenty-two horses 4 years old and up, including seven fillies and mares, have been nominated for the race’s 49th running. Eighteen of those, ranging in age from 4 to 11, will leave the gate at 3:40 p.m. Sunday. The final draw will be announced on Friday morning.

This year puts the spotlight on champion sprinter Lord Kanaloa’s first crop, represented here by expected race favorite Danon Smash, but any number of newcomers or veterans could conceivably take home the ¥110 million winner’s share. The favorite has only won three times in the past 10 runnings, but double-digit picks have made it into the top three just as often.

Races are run to the left at Chukyo, as they are at Tokyo and Niigata. Like Tokyo, Chukyo is not for lightweights. The course slopes upwards after turning into the straight and continues to the finish for over 400 meters, demanding both power and stamina.

The Takamatsunomiya Kinen is the 11th race of 12 on Sunday at Chukyo Racecourse.

Fillies and mares carry 55 kg, all others 57 kg.

Here’s at look at some of the expected top picks.

Danon Smash – The Lord Kanaloa-sired 4-year-old Danon Smash has brought home 4 wins and a second since moving to 6 furlongs, thus winning him the lion’s share of attention going into the Takamatsunomiya Kinen. His last three starts, all Grade 3 events, saw him finish second behind Nac Venus in the Keeneland Cup at Sapporo last summer, scoop the Nov. 25 Keisei Hai at Kyoto and start this year with a win of the Silk Road Stakes at Kyoto in January. He’s quick out of the gate, moves easily to within striking distance and has excellent responses and speed. This fellow is considered ready for a Grade 1 win. He’s best over fast ground but has fared well over softer. Though his three starts racing to the left have failed to bring him a win, he did run second in his debut at Niigata. Trainer Takayuki Yasuda is optimistic. “Physically, he’s much more solid compared to last year.” Slated for the ride is the Ritto-based Yuichi Kitamura, who has ridden Smash’s last six runs. Kitamura debuted in 2006 and despite 45 Grade 1 experiences to date and a formidable 90 JRA wins last year, is still gunning for a top-level victory.

Mozu Superflare – Taking on her first Grade 1 is the American-bred speedster Mozu Superflare, a 4-year-old by Speightstown, winner of the 2004 Breeders’ Cup Sprint. Mozu Superflare, with six wins from 14 starts has had difficulty settling and though she still lacks patience, she has matured to where she can hold her ground. She has made the top three in her last five starts, moved slowly up in level and captured her first graded-stakes race last out wire to wire in the 1,200-meter Yukan Fuji Sho Ocean Stakes on March 2 at Nakayama. She clocked 11.4 seconds over the first furlong, covered the first half in 32.3 seconds and still had enough to give for a 34.8 over the latter half and was able to top Nac Venus by over a length. Previously raced twice at Chukyo, Mozu Superflare’s last run there brought her a fifth in the Chunichi Sports Sho Falcon Stakes (G3, 1,400 meters) last March. “She’s totally different from that race,” says trainer Hidetaka Otonashi. “She’s much stronger now.” However, the Takamatsunomiya Kinen has only been won twice wire to wire since the race became a Grade 1 race in 1996. Shonan Kampf (represented here by Love Kampf) did it in 2002 and Laurel Guerreiro in 2009. Expected to be in the saddle is Yutaka Take, who rode the winner in this year’s February Stakes. Take is two for two with Mozu Superflare.

Let’s Go Donki – Runnerup in both last year’s race and the year previous, 2015 Oka Sho winner Let’s Go Donki is taking on the Takamatsunomiya Kinen for four years straight. Though now 7 years old, this daughter of King Kamehameha is giving little indication of slowing down. After her Takamatsunomiya Kinen run last year, she made the board in five of six starts, three of them Grade 1 level events. Last out she ran second in her first start of the year, the Hankyu Hai, (G3, 1,400 meters) at Hanshin on Feb. 24. Always a big girl, she weighed in at 506 kg and is expected to show improvement this time out. Let’s Go Donki has won only one win in her 25 starts following her Oka Sho victory, but she has consistently finished in second or third place despite being given a rather mixed bag of turf and dirt races and distances from 6 to 8 furlongs. She should be fresher this year, not having had a Hong Kong trip to recover from as she did last year and also having skipped the February Stakes.

Nac Venus – Nac Venus surprised as the third-place finisher last year at only 10th pick of the day, which helped boost the winning trifecta to an over 600-fold return. Like last year, the now 6-year-old daughter of Daiwa Major is going in to the Takamatsunomiya Kinen off a second-place finish in the March 2 Ocean Stakes at Nakayama. But unlike last year, she sat out the Silk Road Stakes after running in the Carbuncle Stakes in early January. She has held her ground admirably in both her last two starts running second behind Mozu Superflare, even doing so running under a full 5 kg less in the Carbuncle Stakes. With only two full weeks between races, trainer Hiroaki Sugiura says he’s giving Nac Venus relatively light work. “Her summer bids at Sapporo and Hakodate did affect her autumn starts (a seventh in the Grade 1 Sprinters Stakes and 15th in the open-class JBC Sprint), but this time she’ll go to the gate in better shape.”

Dea Regalo – The 5-year-old Dea Regalo aced her last start, the Feb. 16 Kyoto Himba Stakes (G3, 1,400 meters), even though her weight had increased 32 kg since her race 3 1/2 months prior. Still, it represented only a 10-kg increase from her top weight of 476 kg the year before for the same race. Trainer Masahiro Otake says, “Last out, I think her being a bit heavy may have helped her mentally, or maybe it was the fast pace. I think it will be much busier this time over 6 furlongs and she is, as before, looking quite big. She came back from the farm at 500 kg and her weight may be up from last start.” A chronic poor starter, the daughter of Manhattan Cafe is also now consistently sharp out of the gate. One concern is the fact that she has failed to perform to the left, having finished 16th and 6th in her only two counterclockwise starts, both at Tokyo.

Logi Cry – The Heart’s Cry-sired 6-year-old Logi Cry is being given the first 1,200-meter race of his career, which has thus far brought him five wins from 16 outings, with a total 10 finishes in the top three spots. Having been raced all but once over the mile, he took on 1,400 meters for the first time last out in the Hankyu Hai (G3, Hanshin) on Feb. 24. He finished third just over 2 lengths off the winner. “With the long homestretch at Chukyo, I think he should be able to handle his first 1,200,” says trainer Naosuke Sugai. Experienced racing to the left, Logi Cry ran second last year in the Toyota Sho Chukyo Kinen, a Grade 3 mile at the Nagoya track. He recently clocked a personal best up the hill course.

Daimei Princess – The 6-year-old Daimei Princess was sired by 2000 Takamatsunomiya Kinen champion King Halo. Now 25 races into her career, Daimei Princess only stepped up to the graded-stakes level last summer and took on her first Grade 1 last September – the Sprinters Stakes at Nakayama. She finished fourth in that only 0.2 seconds behind winner Fine Needle and ahead of Let’s Go Donki and Nac Venus. Though her results were poor in her two races hence (a sixth in the Silk Road Stakes on Jan. 27 and a 10th in the Ocean Stakes on March 2) and she has been slow out of the gate over her last three starts, Daimei Princess shouldn’t be dismissed.

* * *
Another to watch is Ares Barows, who has won at the Grade 3 level over the Chukyo 1,200. Last out, he overcame a wide draw to finish fifth in the Silk Road Stakes only 0.4 seconds behind winner Danon Smash, who carried 1 kg less. Also interesting is Mr Melody, who though 7th in the Hankyu Hai, finished only 0.1 seconds behind Logi Cry in that race after bumping into another horse coming into the stretch. It will be Mr Melody’s first 1,200 on turf, but he has proven successful at Chukyo at the Grade 3 level over 7 furlongs.

[See more]

Inti Secures Seventh Consecutive Victory in Februa18 Feb 10:10 am

Race favorite Inti extended his winning streak to seven by capturing his first G1 title in this year’s February Stakes. The son of Came Home marked a ninth in his debut start and had been undefeated in all six starts that followed up to his latest Tokai Stakes (G2, dirt, 1,800m) triumph four weeks earlier. Overcoming issues concerning recovery from fatigue which forced him to limit his starts to three in both the 2017 and 2018 season, the lightly raced five-year-old now boasts a record of seven out of eight, all on dirt over 1,700 or 1,800m distances. Trainer Kenji Nonaka celebrates his eighth graded win and first JRA-G1 title since opening his yard in 2008. Since his latest 2017 Arima Kinen victory with Kitasan Black, this is jockey Yutaka Take’s 76th overall JRA-G1 win and fifth February Stakes title—Gold Allure (2003), Kane Hekili (2006), Vermilion (2008) and Copano Rickey (2015).

While defending champion Nonkono Yume missed his break, the rest of the field broke smoothly with Inti sent to the lead to set the pace chased by Sunrise Soar and Success Energy in second and third. Yutaka Take produced a perfect ride driving the five-year-old chestnut to victory while repelling a determined challenge from runner-up Gold Dream to land a neck win.

“The horse broke well and we were able to take the lead and set at an ideal pace. He was a bit too eager in the post parade and I was worried that he had used up his energy, but we secured a safe lead at the last turn and he showed amazing strength to the wire. He has so much potential, we have a lot to look forward to in his future starts,” commented Yutaka Take.

After settling in mid-field, 2017 champion and last year’s runner-up Gold Dream shot out of the chasing group with a good burst of speed 300 meters out and threatened the leader with the fastest late charge but was a neck short in second.

Eighth favorite Yuranoto ran on the rails in mid-division right beside Gold Dream up to the final turn and found a narrow path to advance to third at the furlong marker but proved no match for the winner finishing four lengths from the runner-up in third.

Under Nanako Fujita, who became the first Japanese female jockey to ride in a G1 event, fourth pick Copano Kicking trailed in the rear and lost ground going wide on both turns. The Spring At Last gelding showed the second fastest late drive but had too much ground to make up and finished a six-length fifth. “I am truly grateful to all who made it possible for myself to ride in this race. I have experienced this course numerous times before but today, everything looked totally different,” commented Nanako Fujita after the race.

Other Horses:
4th: (8) Moanin—traveled in 5th, showed tenacious effort while no match for top 2 finishers
6th: (10) Sunrise Soar—stalked leader in 2nd, ran gamely up to furlong pole, outrun
7th: (7) Sunrise Nova—settled 3-wide 3rd from rear, passed tired rivals at stretch
8th: (5) Success Energy—chased leaders in 3rd along rails, weakened in last 200m
9th: (9) Wonder Lider—raced 3-wide in 4th, ran willingly until 200m pole, gradually dropped back
10th: (14) Omega Perfume—sat around 8th outside Gold Dream, never fired at stretch
11th: (1) Queen’s Saturn—saved ground 2nd from rear, angled out, even paced
12th: (12) Nobo Baccara—traveled 3-wide in 11th, showed little at straight
13th: (13) Nonkono Yume—was off slow, made headway on outer route, failed to respond at stretch
14th: (4) Meisho Utage—hugged rails in 10th, showed brief effort, fell back after furlong pole

[See more]

February Stakes (G1) - Preview12 Feb 6:37 pm

Grade 1 horseracing action in Japan returns for the first time in 2019, when the February Stakes will be run at Tokyo Racecourse next Sunday (February 17). The 36th running of the race kicks off the top level races which increase in frequency from March. The February Stakes is run over a mile on the dirt course, although the start is on turf, just off the main oval dirt track. The race was originally known as the February Handicap back in 1984, when it was a Grade 3. It was upped to Grade 2 status in 1994, when it became known as the February Stakes. Final changes came when it was made a Grade 1 race in 1997, and an international Grade 1 in 2007.

This year there have been 18 nominations for a maximum field of 16, and another competitive field of top class dirt horses looks sure to line up at Tokyo on Sunday. The race is for 4-year-olds and up, with a set weight of 57 kg, with fillies and mares claiming a 2 kg allowance. Since the year 2000, nine 5-year-olds have won, while next best have been 4-year-olds, claiming the race seven times over that period. First favorites lack a bit of a grip on the race, with just three winning in the last ten years, the last being Copano Rickey in 2015. Record time for the February Stakes is 1 minute 34.0 seconds, set by Moanin in 2016.

Some of the step races leading up to this year’s February Stakes have included the Grade 1 Tokyo Daishoten, held at Oi last December over 2,000 meters, the Grade 3 Negishi Stakes over 1,400 meters at Tokyo in January, and the Grade 2 Tokai TV Hai Tokai Stakes run over 1,800 meters at Chukyo, also last month. A number of the runners are coming off runs in these races and will be battling it out again for this Sunday’s ¥100 million winner’s check. The February Stakes will be Race 11 on the Sunday card at Tokyo, with a post time in Japan of 15.40.

Here’s a look at some of the runners expected to head the betting market:

Inti: Something of a revelation on the dirt racing scene in Japan, Inti keeps being given stronger tests and keeps passing them with flying colors, as the 5-year-old has now won six straight races, five of them as favorite. His latest win came in the Grade 2 Tokai TV Hai Tokai Stakes over 1,800 meters at Chukyo in January. Trainer Kenji Nonaka is hoping the horse can give him his first Grade 1 victory. “It was a real test for him last time, but he got to the front and put in a strong run to win the race. There’s a slight concern with him racing left-handed and how he corners out of the backstretch, but I was satisfied enough last time,” the trainer said. Inti will be ridden by four time February Stakes winner, Yutaka Take.

Gold Dream: The 6-year-old needs no introduction to racing fans in Japan, taking out the Grade 1 dirt double of the February Stakes and the Champions Cup in 2017, as well as finishing second in last year’s February Stakes. He’s finished first or second in his last six races, and his recent partner, Christophe Lemaire, will be in the saddle again. Trainer Osamu Hirata commented on the horse: ”It’s been the usual pattern with him, giving him a break at Northern Farm Shigaraki. He came back to the stable on the 23rd of last month, and everything’s fine with him, including a piece of uphill work in around 52 seconds on the 30th, when he moved very well.”

Omega Perfume: The 4-year-old colt by Swept Overboard has only been unplaced once in nine starts (which have included five wins) and that was when he was fifth in last year’s Grade 1 Champions Cup. The Shadai Farm bred colt was a great buy at the 2017 Chiba Thoroughbred Sale. His trainer Shogo Yasuda said, “He had a break at the farm after the Tokyo Daishoten, and has come back refreshed, weighing about 460 kg, which is good for his workload. I’m not worried about the race over 1,600 meters at Tokyo.”

Copano Kicking: Nanako Fujita will make history when she rides Copano Kicking on Sunday, becoming the first ever female JRA jockey to ride in a Grade 1 race. Copano Kicking is an American bred by Spring At Last, and has won his last four races, which have included two Grade 3s, the latest the Negishi Stakes over 1,400 meters at Tokyo in January. All three Grade 1 wins for trainer Akira Murayama have come in the February Stakes, and he’s hoping he can grab the headlines here. He recently commented: “The horse took up a good position in his last race before going on to win well. It was a strong performance, and while not perfect, it shows me he’s capable of running a good race from any position.”

Sunrise Soar: The Symboli Kris S 5-year-old chased home Best Dirt Horse for 2018 Le Vent Se Leve to finish third in last year’s Grade 1 Champions Cup, and is a horse that likes to be prominent in a race and give it his all, no matter what the distance. He’ll be ridden for the first time on Sunday by jockey Hironobu Tanabe, who teams up with trainer Hiroshi Kawachi. The trainer said, “In the horse’s races last autumn, he didn’t win, but put in some good runs against Grade 1 performers. He’s getting better as he matures, and he hasn’t been losing weight between his last workouts and getting to the track on race days.”
A couple of other horses should also be mentioned. Worthy of note is the other Sunrise runner, Sunrise Nova, and last year’s February Stakes winner, Nonkono Yume. While the former could only finish eighth last time in the Grade 3 Negishi Stakes, it shouldn’t detract from his overall good record of finishing in the first three 13 times from 20 starts, and a generally good track record at Tokyo. Nonkono Yume would just need a slightly better break from the gate and to not be too far behind turning for home, when the now 7-year-old gelding really finds his best turn of foot to finish strongly down the long Tokyo homestraight.

[See more]

Winners of the 2018 JRA Awards announced10 Jan 10:09 am

On Jan. 8, Almond Eye was announced as a double winner for the JRA Awards for 2018. Almond Eye won both the Japan Racing Association's Horse of the Year for 2018 and Best Three-Year-Old Filly award. In the voting for the Horse of the Year award, Almond Eye received all 276 votes.

The Horse of the Year title is the highest honor given to JRA-registered race horses and is selected by the Horse of the Year Selection Committee represented by journalists of various dailies and magazines.

The JRA Awards ceremony will be held on January 28.

[See more]

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Pro Tipster MAX - provides racing tips in the competitive horseracing world, with completely transparent wins/losses -

Pro Tipster MAX is a service that allows you to buy the racing tips of elite Umanity professional tipsters--starting at just 100 yen/race. The racing tips of Umanity-approved professional tipsters aren't just symbols that indicate the outcome, but a proper racing tip that indicates the betting combination and how to allocate funds--racing tips whose wins/losses are completely transparent in this head-to-head world. That's a clear distinction from the racing tips of other sites, which do not publish their wins/losses.

Simply registering as a member (free) allows you to buy the racing tips of professional tipsters.

Last week Results

  • Highest Payout
  • Return Rate
Rank Tipster Race Payoff
1 Ace No.2 Ace No.2
17 Mar Nakayama11R
32,400 300,670
2 Prince Trifecta Prince Trifecta
17 Mar Nakayama11R
235,870 235,870
3 43d88cafe0 43d88cafe0
17 Mar Nakayama1R
2,410 216,140
4 Masked Doctor Ei Masked Doctor Ei
16 Mar Hanshin5R
480 192,800
5 Ace No.1 Ace No.1
17 Mar Nakayama11R
10,290 145,070

>>See more

Rank Tipster No.of
1 Okabe Okabe
3R 296% 66% 2,950 2,225
2 ibukimasaya ibukimasaya
12R 153% 25% 63,640 61,213
3 Takuma Taguchi Takuma Taguchi
72R 149% 29% 226,620 32,600
4 MacaroniStandards MacaroniStandards
65R 140% 16% 60,100 18,827
5 Sugadai Sugadai
64R 136% 50% 80,210 9,334
6 kiri kiri
72R 121% 26% 74,290 22,094
7 Royce Royce
39R 118% 33% 12,810 6,277
8 Master Exacta Master Exacta
70R 113% 38% 9,740 2,953
9 Joie Joie
69R 101% 55% 8,060 12,809
10 N.Okamura N.Okamura
72R 101% 29% 5,000 23,190

>>See more

Tip Coliseum --Japan's Biggest Racing Tips Arena! Are you Going to Compete? Or just Watch?

Over the course of a year, some 5 million racing tips are registered in the Tip Coliseum, Japan's largest and highest-level racing tip event. Different people use it in different ways--from participating in the tournament and competing for rankings, to watching the tips of top rankers.

Just registering as a member (free) allows you to use the functions of the Tip Coliseum for free.

 Tournament Info:Tournament 152 finished! The high achievers are recognized! Next tournament will be held from 23 Mar!

Tournament 152 Award

Rank Tipster Level
Deviation Return
tobiuo tobiuo
83.6 2384%
7c782c87d1 7c782c87d1
83.4 439%
bakaak bakaak
83.3 858%
aki02a aki02a
81.4 786%
xeph xeph
80.5 1153%

>>See more

To Beginners
--Smart Ways to Use Umanity--from Racing Tips to Horse Racing Romance--

Umanity offers all kinds of services to meet the different needs of racing fans, but on the other hand, some people feel "there are so many services, I don't know where to begin." For that reason, we introduce ways to use Umanity according to the type of user. We know you'll find a way that fits you perfectly♪

Data Cruncher

You are the type who assembles information useful for making tips, especially on high-stakes races, such as GI races, and refer to them as you make your own racing tips.
Suitable service

Graded race Page
U index

Recommend using!

[High Stakes Strategies] is packed with useful information for making racing tips, such as the latest information, like pre-race training times on the horses scheduled to run in high stakes races, the expected odds in the racing card, the columns of professional tipster, results from the past 10 years, etc. Then there is Umanity's proprietary racehorse performance index, the U-index, which many people pay to use for its accuracy; members can use it free, but just for high-stakes races, so using it in conjunction with the High Stakes Strategies makes for a perfect combo.

Racing Tip

Likes racing tips better than 3 squares a day! You're the type who makes tips on lots of races per day, not just the main ones!
Suitable service

Tip Coliseum
Race Info

Recommend using!

First off, try registering your tips in the [Tip Coliseum]. Of course there's the fun of competing for rankings and the racing tips bragging rights for all of Japan--but with our auto-tallying tools you can keep track of your results and bump up your racing prediction prowess through objective self-analysis. What's more, Umanity's [Racing Card (for VIP Club members)] is full of tools for increasing the accuracy of your tips, such as our proprietary speed index, the U-index, as well as “Stable Comments” and “Training Evaluation” and so on provided by Horseracing 8.


You see the horses as a vehicle for investing and you don't hold the your purse strings tight when it comes to high-quality information--you're looking for a high return!
Suitable service

Pro tipster "MAX"
Sugouma Robot

Recommend using!

With Pro Tipster MAX over 20 well-known professional tipsters provide their racing tips for a fee (from 100 yen/race). And their tips aren't just symbols that indicate the outcome, but proper racing tips that indicate the betting combination and how to allocate funds--racing tips whose wins/losses are completely transparent in this head-to-head world--a totally different critter from other horseracing tip sites, which only post their wins, but not the balance of wins/losses. The racing tips software [Sugouma Robot] is equipped with expected value theory for automatically buying only betting tickets with high expected yields.


You love the fun of horseracing with all your friends! You're the type who wants friends to go to the track with!
Suitable service

Horseracing Diary
offline get-togethers

Recommend using!

It's surprising how many people have nothing to say about horseracing on SNS, such as on Facebook. Umanity is a community just for horseracing fans, so don't hold back in talking about horseracing, such as in your Horseracing Diary. What's more, Umanity rents guest rooms at the Tokyo Race Course and holds horseracing offline get-togethers in both Spring and Fall. As these get-togethers are of like-minded horseracing fans, you're sure to make friends. Come along and have fun.


You're the type who wants to get into horseracing but you don't know where to start!
Suitable service

Graded race Page
Tip Coliseum

Recommend using!

First of all, you should try focusing on high-stakes races because you can get lots of information. [High Stakes Strategies] is packed with useful information for making racing tips, such as the latest information on the horses scheduled to run, the racing card, columns and results from the past 10 years. Next, try registering your tips in the [Tip Coliseum]. Simply registering a tip on a race will double the fun of watching them run. And up to this point it won't even cost you a single penny. You have nothing to lose as it's all free and you can take part in horseracing without betting any money.


More than for picking races or investing, you like horseracing because the horses are so beautiful! You're the type who wants to start as a partial owner!
Suitable service

Umanity POG

Recommend using!

[POG] stands for Paper Owner Game. Even though it's a virtual game, the horses are all real--several thousand JRA registered thoroughbreds. You select from among them and if your bid wins the auction, it's registered as your POG horse. You can keep up to 20 POG horses in your stable and the game is in competing for prize money with those horses. Apart from the game, pictures of about 400 race horses have been posted, and appreciating their beautiful bodies is one more pleasure.


Does it cost anything to use Umanity?

No, registering with and using Umanity is free. Once you become a member (free), you can participate in the Tip Coliseum, and use functions that are helpful in making tips, such as the U-index (Umanity's proprietary speed index) on high-stakes races, U-Favorites (tip odds ), which show what's popular among Umanity users, register horses to watch, betting ticket purchasing tools, etc.--not to mention enjoying horseracing community functions, such as diaries, messaging and circles--all the basics for free.

What do I have to do to register as a member?

Registering is simple--all it takes is an email address.
Once you register your email address, follow the instructions and you'll be registered as a member in 1 to 2 minutes flat! You can also register as a member via an account, such as your Yahoo! JAPAN ID.

Do I have to register to use the site?

No, some functions (such as news) can be used without registering.
However, most of the functions require becoming a member (free) and then you can use them for free, so we recommend becoming a member.
[Free Functions Available to Umanity Members]
-Participate in the Tip Coliseum (registering tips, rankings and auto tallying of results)
-U-index of high-stakes races (Umanity's proprietary racehorse performance index with some 10,000 regular users)
-U-Favorites (tip odds), which show what's popular among Umanity users
-Plus, functions useful for making tips, such as registering horses to watch and betting ticket purchase support
-Community functions like diaries, messaging and circles

Can I see racing tips for free?

There are both free tips and those you pay for.
You have to pay for the racing tips of professional tipsters.
Doing so requires the Umanity virtual currency, Gold (G).
Gold can be purchased with credit card.
Although you can view the racing tips of non-professional tipsters for "free," in some cases you need to use Umanity points, which you can get for free by being active on the site, such as by logging in, posting tips in the Tip Coliseum, etc.

What is the U-index?

It is an index developed exclusively by Umanity to indicate the performance of a racehorse.
The value is based on the time over the distance of each horse to date, and estimates whether and how well they will perform in this race; as such, the higher the index, the better the race performance is expected to be.
The U-index is provided to Umanity members free for high-stakes races. To use it on all races, you have to become a member of the Umanity VIP Club, which is a paid service.

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