Danon Premium favored in Asahi Hai Futurity

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Alastair Bull

December 15th, 2017

Unbeaten colt Danon Premium could give trainer Mitsumasa Nakauchida his first grade one victory when he contests the Asahi Hai Futurity (G1) for 2-year-olds at Hanshin racecourse Dec. 17.

One of two colts in the field by champion sire Deep Impact, Danon Premium has been relatively untroubled to win both his starts. At his most recent outing he won the Saudi Arabia Royal Cup (G3) Oct. 7, easily defeating Stelvio by 1 ¾ lengths in a record time of 1 minute 33.0 seconds. He should be hard to beat in the one-mile event.

Nakachuida has a useful second string in the race in Frontier, winner of the Niigata Nisai Stakes (G3) in August prior to a fourth-place finish in the Daily Hai Nisai Stakes at Kyoto Nov. 11. Also backing up from the Kyoto race is the third-place finisher, Keiai Nautique (Deep Impact).

Danon Premium’s owner Danox Co. Ltd. has another strong chance in the race in the form of Danon Smash. He was beaten at his first start but then won a maiden at Hanshin and then the Momiji Stakes at Kyoto. Both victories were easy ones, though they were both at seven furlongs.

Danon Smash, along with Stelvio, is from the first crop of the international group one-winning sprinter Lord Kanaloa (King Kamehameha). He is trained by Takayuki Yasuda, who trained Lord Kanaloa.

Stelvio was unbeaten in two starts prior to the Saudi Arabia World Cup and produced a fast finish from a long way back to beat all but Danon Premium. He should be a good chance again, especially if the pace is strong.

Darley Japan has two runners in the Asahi Hai Futurity and one of them, Tower of London (Raven’s Pass), will be prominent in the betting. He has won three of his four starts, finishing impressively from midfield in his most recent outing to win the seven-furlong Keio Hai Nisai Stakes (G2) at Tokyo by two lengths.

The two horses that finished closest to Tower of London in Tokyo, Cassius and Asakusa Genki, will reoppose him at Hanshin. Asakusa Genki (Stormy Atlantic) is the sold U.S.-bred in the field, having been bought at last year’s Keeneland September yearling sale by Shadai Farm for $210,000; he’s won two of his five starts, including the Kokura Nisai Stakes (G3) Sept. 3.

Cassius (Kinshasa No Kiseki) is also a stakes winner, having won the Hakodate Nisai Stakes (G3) in July. Most of the other runners will need to improve to be winning chances.

Danon Premium has looked the most impressive of the contenders to date, though Tower of London, Danon Smash, and Stelvio also demand attention.