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Venue Race Odds
Sat,18 Jan
2 Centelleo 2.4
16 Salacia 4.8
8 Passing Through 6.9
Sun,19 Jan
6h until start
2 Red Genial 3.1
13 African Gold 4.1
7 Taisei Trail 8.0
Sun,19 Jan
6h until start
12 Sky Groove 2.9
8 Hygge 3.9
7 Diastima 6.2

Races nearly post time

Venue Race Odds
43m until start
1 Kurino Vincent 1.6
11 Madrugada 4.8
54m until start
4 Taste of Honey 1.3
2 Perle d'Or 4.8
1h until start
1 Three Harbor 2.4
9 Gold Oak 4.3

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Racing News

The Japan Racing Association (JRA) announced that a short-term riding jockey’s license has been issued to the following jockey:

Andrasch STARKE
License term: Jan. 18 thru Mar. 17, 2020
Past Licenses (since 2018):
-Mar. 2 thru Apr. 30, 2019
-Oct. 5 thru Nov. 4, 2019
Overall record (JRA races): 77 wins/884 rides (4 graded races)
Sponsor trainer: Manabu Ikezoe (JRA Ritto Training Center)
Contract owner: Kazumi Yoshida

Contrail Wins Effortlessly in Hopeful Stakes05 Jan 9:30 am

Race favorite Contrail continued undefeated in his third career win in the G1 Hopeful Stakes. Breaking his maiden in his September debut over 1,800 meters, he scored an overwhelming 5-length victory in the following Tokyo Sports Hai Nisai Stakes (G3, 1,800) in November where he set a new course record. Trainer Yoshito Yahagi had just won the Arima Kinen with Lys Gracieux last week before registering his ninth JRA-G1 title in the Hopeful Stakes. Jockey Yuichi Fukunaga won his third JRA-G1 title this year after his victories in the Takamatsunomiya Kinen with Mr Melody and the Yasuda Kinen with Indy Champ and 25th overall.

Contrail broke sharply from an inside draw and was immediately eased two wide in fourth position behind Panthalassa who rushed out from stall nine to set a brisk pace over the 2,000-meter course. The Deep Impact colt gradually moved up through the last two corners, was already at the heels of the leader 400 meters out, then extended his strides effortlessly as soon as he took command passing the furlong pole and pulled away for a 1-1/2-length victory.

“He was really strong. I didn’t have to do anything but just sit on him. He’s always been a good starter and I didn’t want to pull him back too much but was able to settle him behind another runner—although he was racing well up front I was confident that we could make it through to the end. He does tend to be a little keen but the training staff had conditioned him to be in a good motivated mood so it worked well in the race. He really changed his gear effortlessly but did show a little lost once up front—still a little green, and no wonder Ryan (Moore) drove him the way he did in his last run—but the colt really showed his potentials towards his three-year-old campaign next year,” commented jockey Yuichi Fukunaga.

Weltreisende was held back after a smooth break and rated in mid-field around sixth or seventh between horses while keeping close watch on the race favorite ahead. The Dream Journey colt made headway with 600 meters to go and entered the straight right behind and outside Contrail but was no match for the winner while besting the rest of the field by two lengths.
Wakea raced off the pace in mid-field, shifted to the outside for the stretch run and closed in impressively but had too much ground to make along the outside for third place.

Other Horses:
4th: (13) Rhinebeck—advanced to 3rd from widest stall, showed tenacity, weakened in last 100m
5th: (11) Authority—sat 3-wide around 8th, ran gamely until 200m out
6th: (9) Panthalassa—set pace, led until 200m pole, tired thereafter
7th: (3) Blooming Sky—tracked leader in 2nd early, outrun after final corner
8th: (10) Dear Theory—saved ground around 10th, angled out, showed little at stretch
9th: (1) Black Hole—hugged rails behind winner, lacked needed kick at stretch
10th: (12) Rugby Boy—settled 2nd from rear, unable to reach contention
11th: (4) Galore Creek—raced 3-wide in 6th, dropped back after 3rd corner
12th: (6) Narino Montagne—traveled 3-wide around 8th, gradually fell back
13th: (8) Kurino Brave—bumped in first 200m, trailed in rear, no factor

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Hopeful Stakes (G1) - Preview24 Dec 11:24 am

This coming Saturday (December 28th) will be the closing day of the year for Japanese racing under the JRA, and it’s the Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes that brings the curtain down on another exciting year for all those connected with Japanese horseracing, both in Japan and overseas. The final big race will be run at Nakayama Racecourse, and is for 2-year-olds. This year sees 17 nominations for the 2,000 meters race on the inner turf course, and with the extended distance in comparison with the Hanshin Juvenile Fillies and Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes, the other Grade 1 races for 2-year-olds, the Hopeful Stakes can be a good starting point for connections looking at next year’s Classic races.
The Hopeful Stakes was first run in 1984 and was previously known as the Radio Nikkei Hai Nisai Stakes. The race has had a varied history to date, with name changes, and different tracks and distances over the years, but things have settled down somewhat since the race has been run at Nakayama since 2014, and given its Grade 1 status in 2017. Some famous horses that have won the race include Agnes Tachyon (2000), Victoire Pisa (2009), Japan Cup winner Epiphaneia (2012) and Rey de Oro (2016), to name but a few. Rey de Oro holds the record time for the race since it’s been run at Nakayama, winning in a time of 2 minutes 1.3 seconds.
Lead up races to this year’s Hopeful Stakes have included the Hagi Stakes over 1,800 meters at Kyoto, Ivy Stakes over 1,800 meters at Tokyo, both Listed races run in October, and Grade 3 Tokyo Sports Hai Nisai Stakes run over 1,800 meters at Tokyo in November. First favorites have won the Hopeful Stakes for the last three years (Saturnalia was last year’s winner), and foreign jockeys have won the race in the last four years. The final Grade 1 of the year carries a winner’s purse of JPY 70 million, something in the region of US$ 600,000.
Saturday’s race will be Race 11 on the card at Nakayama, with a post time in Japan of 15:30.
Here’s a look at some of the colts expected to play a part in the 36th running of the Hopeful Stakes:

Contrail: The colt by Deep Impact has a similar reputation to recent Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes winner, Salios, going into the race. Both are considered very good colts in the making, and Contrail is coming off a five-length win in record time of the Grade 3 Tokyo Sports Hai Nisai Stakes in November. The horse only marked his debut in September, when he ran out an easy winner at Hanshin over 1,800 meters. He’s owned by Shinji Maeda and trained by Yoshito Yahagi, a trainer who’s enjoyed so much success this year, and won the Arima Kinen with Lys Gracieux last Sunday. Contrail put in a strong piece of work on the woodchip course at Ritto Training Center on December 18th, working with stablemate Smart C’est la Vie, and posting a six-furlong time of 80.2 seconds, with a final furlong time of 11.8 seconds.

Wakea: An expensive purchase at the 2017 Select Sale, the colt by Heart’s Cry is out to prove that he’s worth every penny and that’s certainly been the case so far. Bred at Northern Farm, he made his debut in June, and after winning his first race over 1,800 meters at Tokyo, he went on to win the Listed Ivy Stakes, run on soft ground, by three lengths. Heart’s Cry means such a lot to jockey Christophe Lemaire, and after winning aboard Wakea last time, he said, “It was a comfortable win and I think he’ll be able to race over further. He’ll improve more from now.” Trainer Takahisa Tezuka recently commented on the horse, saying “It’ll be the first time for him to run right-handed this time, and when he races left-handed, he can lean in a little, so going right-handed should be fine. I think he can handle the extra distance.”

Weltreisende: The colt only made his debut in September, but posted a strong win at Kokura over 1,800 meters on his first appearance, and then followed that up with a win in the Listed Hagi Stakes at Kyoto in October. He justified favoritism in both those races. He’s by multiple Grade 1 winner Dream Journey, and is trained by Yasutoshi Ikee, the handler who also trained Dream Journey. The colt worked with his race jockey Oisin Murphy on the woodchip course at Ritto Training Center on December 19th, posting a six-furlong time of 80.7 seconds, closing out the final furlong in 11.5 seconds.

Authority: Another unbeaten colt going into the Hopeful Stakes, the son of Orfevre won his first start over 1,800 meters at Hakodate in July, before going on to win comfortably in the Fuyo Stakes at Nakayama in September, over the same course and distance as the Hopeful Stakes. He’s another runner for the Silk Racing Co. Ltd. ownership and is trained by Tetsuya Kimura. “One of the keys with him will be to keep him relaxed before the race. It’ll be his first time at the track and to be in a race with a lot of runners, and he’ll need to get experience with these things,” the trainer said.

Black Hole: All the colt’s races have been in Hokkaido, and one of his two victories from three starts came in the Grade 3 Sapporo Nisai Stakes over 1,800 meters in August. Trainer Ikuo Aizawa hopes the Gold Ship colt can give him his first Grade 1 success since 1999. The trainer said, “It was a good performance last time and he certainly ran a strong race. I don’t think there’ll be much in it this time when he takes on the other strong runners here.”
Rhinebeck: The well-bred colt by Deep Impact out of Apapane is two wins from three starts, with both wins coming at Chukyo over 1,600 meters, and had to settle for third last time behind Contrail in the Grade 3 Tokyo Sports Hai Nisai Stakes in November. The horse is trained by Yasuo Tomomichi, who has won three Grade 1s so far this year. In trackwork on the woodchip course at Ritto Training Center on December 18th, Rhinebeck clocked a six-furlong time of 82.0 seconds and closed out the final furlong in 11.9 seconds, picking up speed from the third corner in his piece of work with two other horses.

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Lys Gracieux Defeats Strong All-Star Field in Her 23 Dec 10:48 am

Second pick Lys Gracieux claimed this year’s Arima Kinen following the Takarazuka Kinen in spring to become the 14th horse and the first mare to dominate both Grand Prix races (10th horse to win both races in the same year). The Heart’s Cry mare, who registered her first G1 title in last year’s Queen Elizabeth II Cup, will be retiring with a remarkable achievement of scoring three consecutive G1 wins—Takarazuka Kinen in June, Australia’s prestigious Cox Plate in October and the Arima Kinen. Trainer Yoshito Yahagi marked his eighth JRA-G1 victory since the Takarazuka Kinen and jockey Damian Lane, who was riding under a one-day short-term license, scored his third JRA-G1 win following the Victoria Mile in May with Normcore and the Takarazuka Kinen in June with this mare.

Five-year-old Lys Gracieux broke smoothly from stall six and hugged the rails around 10-11th from the front while eyeing race favorite Almond Eye traveling on the outside. Jockey Damian Lane steered his mount to the outside rounding the last corner and urged her to go at the top of the stretch, to which the Heart’s Cry mare responded willingly, taking the front 200 meters out and flying past the cheering crowds while leaving the field behind for a five-length victory.

“Obviously, I went into the race thinking Almond Eye would be hard to beat but I just had so much confidence in this horse, the way she improved out of the Takarazuka Kinen into the Cox Plate and Yahagi-san said she’s improved again. I just knew she was going to run a big race. It was a really good pace and I found a lovely spot back in the rail. I didn’t know what sort of track I was going to get but a space opened up and she did the rest,” commented jockey Damian Lane.

Third favorite Saturnalia traveled wide toward the rear, around fourth from last. The Lord Kanaloa colt improved position while taking a wide trip through the last corners, surged out behind Lys Gracieux in the last 200 meters with a strong late kick and, though unable to keep up with the powerful speed of the winner, held off the strong challenge of World Premiere by a neck.

Fourth choice World Premiere trailed in the very rear through most of the trip, circled the widest around the last two corners and dislodged an impressive late charge that timed the second fastest last three furlongs to close in on the runner-up by a neck at the wire.

Odds-on-favorite Almond Eye traveled in mid-division, around ninth from the front, edged forward through the last corners and was among the front horses passing the 200-meter pole but weakened thereafter to finish ninth.
“She was physically fit and in good condition but she couldn’t keep her calm before the crowd in the first lap and lost her rhythm. She was unable to relax and was tired as it was a 2,500-meter race,” commented Christophe Lemaire.

Other Horses:
4th: (5) Fierement—ran outside eventual winner around 10th, advanced after 3rd corner, rallied briefly with top 2 finishers, weakened in last 100m
5th: (11) Kiseki—broke poorly, hugged rails around 12th, turned wide, showed belated charge
6th: (16) Cheval Grand—saved ground 3rd from rear, angled out, improved position
7th: (8) Rey de Oro—was off slow, trailed in rear, circled wide, passed tired rivals
8th: (14) Velox—raced inside favorite around 8th, even paced
10th: (3) Etario—took economic trip in 5th, lacked needed kick at stretch
11th: (13) Al Ain—traveled in 4th, ran gamely until 200m marker, weakened thereafter
12th: (2) Suave Richard—settled around 6th, found little room at final corner, never fired
13th: (4) Stiffelio—tracked leader in 2nd or 3rd, led briefly at early stretch, fell back after 200m pole
14th: (15) Aerolithe—set fast pace, opened gap, ran out of steam at final corner
15th: (1) Scarlet Color—hugged rails around 7th, outrun after 3rd corner
16th: (12) Crocosmia—chased leader in 2nd or 3rd, faded after 3rd corner

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Arima Kinen (The Grand Prix) (G1) - Preview17 Dec 5:39 pm

Sunday, Dec. 22, marks the 64th running of the Grade 1 Arima Kinen (The Grand Prix), arguably Japan’s most-beloved race and the year’s second of two races that draw their fields in part from fan ballots.

A 2,500-meter turf event held over the inside track of the right-handed Nakayama Racecourse east of Tokyo, the Arima Kinen, now no longer the final Grade 1 of the year, is still the last big race of the year for ages 3 and up. The Arima Kinen carries a first-place prize of JPY300 million, Japan’s top winning money, offered only in this race and the Japan Cup.

Often dubbed a “dream race,” this year’s lineup is living up to the name, with eight of the fans’ top 10 choices (10 from the top 13) among the race’s 19 nominees, 11 among them Grade 1 winners. Top in many ways, including fan votes, is Almond Eye, who won the Arima Kinen voting with nearly 110,000 ballots cast in her name. The filly’s tally bested the voting’s runnerup Lyx Gracieux by some 5,500 votes even though the original plans for Almond Eye were to sit out the Arima Kinen.

The Arima Kinen starts just off the third turn on part of what is the outer course. Runners pass once before the grandstand and circle around again. The stretch hill begins 200 meters before the finish line and rises two meters in less than 150 meters. A more forgiving course than Tokyo, skill, not strength alone, plays a much bigger role both in the saddle and under it.

Sunday’s card at Nakayama features 12 races. The Arima Kinen is the 11th race with a post time of 15:25 local time. Horses over 3-years-old will carry 57kg. Fillies (mares) and 3-year-olds are given a 2kg allowance.

The current race record stands at 2 minutes, 29.5 seconds, set by Zenno Rob Roy in 2004. Here’s a look at some of the expected top picks.

Almond Eye: Initially aimed for the Hong Kong Cup, an elevated temperature shortly before departure overseas resulted in cancellation of the 4-year-old filly’s travel plans and sights moved to the Arima Kinen, Almond Eye’s first. Quickly recovered, the daughter of Lord Kanaloa only missed one day of work and reports have it that she is well prepared heading in to the big finale. With never a finish out of the top three, Almond Eye has captured eight wins from her second start, six of them Grade 1 races, including her victory in the Dubai Turf at Meydan Racecourse this spring. Almond Eye also holds the current race record for the Grade 1 Japan Cup, set last year. This year, with an eye to Hong Kong, she passed on the Japan Cup, took on the 2,000-meter Grade 1 Tenno Sho (Autumn) instead and brought home top prize. It will be the first time at Nakayama for the Miho-based filly and the first time over 2,500 meters. With her record, however, and two top-level wins at 2,400 meters and three wins racing to the right, there is no reason not to believe this filly can’t handle the Arima Kinen with characteristic aplomb.

Lys Gracieux: Sired by Heart’s Cry (winner of the 2005 Arima Kinen), Lys Gracieux is a highly consistent 5-year-old mare that has finished in the top three in 18 of her 21 career starts. She ran second in the Hanshin Juvenile Fillies, the top race for 2-year-old fillies and posted a 2nd, 5th, 2nd in the filly classics the following year. After a second in the Victoria Mile last year and a win of the Queen Elizabeth II Cup, both top-level all-female events, she flew overseas for her first bid abroad. Following a second-place finish in the Hong Kong Vase last year, she started the new year with a second in the Kinko Sho (G2, 2,000m) at Chukyo. Then it was off to Sha Tin again for a third in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup at the end of April. She returned home to win the Grade 1 Takarazuka Kinen by three lengths in June and then returned in the fall with a win Down Under, in the Grade 1 Cox Plate over 2,040 meters and was back at her Ritto base on Dec. 3. Lys Gacieux has made the trip east several times, so there should be no concern there, but it will be her first time at Nakayama. It will also be the first time at Nakayama for Australian jockey Damian Lane, who rode her last two races and is expected to be in the saddle on Sunday.

Suave Richard: A 5-year-old son of Heart’s Cry, Suave Richard returned for his fall campaign with a seventh-place finish in the Tenno Sho (Autumn) after a four-month layoff. He then went on to capture the Japan Cup last out on Nov. 24 giving him his second Grade 1 win following the 2018 Osaka Hai. Fourth in last year’s Japan Cup, Suave Richard did not race again until spring, and has, from five outings, posted 3rd, 3rd, 7th, 1st in Grade 1 events this year. Those include a third in the Dubai Sheema Classic, run over 2,410 meters at Meydan. This will be his second Arima Kinen. He finished fourth only a neck behind Cheval Grand in the 2017 version despite lugging in, but has since gained experience racing to the right. Wins in both the Japan Cup and the Arima Kinen the same year are not easily had, however. If Suave Richard can make the winner’s circle, he will be the first horse to do so since Deep Impact in 2006 and only the fifth horse in JRA history.

Saturnalia: Winner of last year’s yearend Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes (2,000m, Nakayama), Saturnalia was 1st, 4th in the spring classics. He returned in the fall for a win of the Kobe Shimbun Hai (G2, 2,400m) and passed on the Kikuka Sho (Japanese St. Leger) to run in the Tenno Sho (Autumn), where he finished sixth, 0.9 seconds off winner Almond Eye. He will go to the gate well-primed and, with two wins at Nakayama (both over 2,000 meters), he will most likely be a popular pick and will race under only 55kg. Christophe Soumillon, who rode last out, is expected to have the ride.

Fierement: Returning from a bid in the Arc is the Deep Impact-sired 4-year-old Fierement. Hampered by the heavy going at Longchamp, his last-place finish was highly uncharacteristic. Last year, having passed on the spring 3-year-old classics, Fierement captured the triple crown final leg Kikuka Sho (G1, 3,200m) at Kyoto. Starting this year out with a second in the American Jockey Club Cup (G2, 2,200m) at Nakayama, he then made history by becoming the first horse to win the 3,200-meter Grade 1 Tenno Sho (Spring) on only the sixth start of his career. Kenichi Ikezoe, currently with the most wins of the Arima Kinen (four), is set to ride Fierement for the first time.

Two other up-and-coming youngsters attracting a considerable amount of attention are World Premiere and Velox. World Premiere, by Deep Impact, now has three wins and no finishes out of the top three in his six starts thus far. Having sat out the spring classics, he returned in the fall to capture the Kikuka Sho in his first top-level bid. He will be taking on older horses for the first time and has the fewest starts of any in the Arima Kinen lineup. He is expected to be partnered with Yutaka Take.

The Just a Way-sired Velox has only one start of nine in which he finished out of the top three spots. In the classics, he posted 2nd, 3rd, 3rd and, running closer to the pace, beat World Premiere to the line in the Kobe Shimbun Hai (G2, 2,400m) at Hanshin a month before the Kikuka Sho. Yuga Kawada, Japan’s current No. 2 rider 10 wins behind Christophe Lemaire, is set for the ride.
Other names not to be dismissed in this year’s Arima Kinen include Cheval Grand, back from England and tough runs under 60kg. A veteran Arima participant with a 6th, 3rd, 3rd record, he could still easily make the money, as could Kiseki, returning from a seventh-place finish in the Arc, after finishing second in his two Grade 1 bids at home this spring.

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Today's in-form tipsters

  • 18 Jan
  • 19 Jan
Rank Tipster No.of
1 Y.Satoh Y.Satoh
30R 534% 23% 1,232,240 216,634
2 Mutsuki Mutsuki
29R 180% 28% 144,840 40,605
3 ButaminC ButaminC
16R 163% 44% 27,560 10,166
4 kyosukejrdb kyosukejrdb
14R 157% 36% 71,580 39,236
5 E.Yamazaki E.Yamazaki
7R 153% 43% 37,100 35,700

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Highest Payout

Rank Tipster Race Payoff
1 tahoe tahoe
91,350 2,578,220
2 Zenza Zenza
68,910 1,722,750
3 41615e722c 41615e722c
130,330 1,303,300
4 hamachin hamachin
1,231,860 1,231,860
5 shimesaba_okawari shimesaba_okawari
1,231,860 1,231,860

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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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