Gold Ship favored to go out in style in Arima Kinen
Nearly all of the leading players described in our early preview of tonight’s Arima Kinen (G1) have stood their ground, with the only big absentee being Japan Cup (G1) heroine Shonan Pandora.
As expected, six-year-old Gold Ship rates as the favorite in his career finale. The self-willed gray exits a 10th in the Japan Cup (G1) off a five-month layoff, which should bring him forward. Post 15 of 16 isn’t a plus, but if the deep closer has his mind on the job, it won’t be insuperable.
“He was fit (for the Japan Cup) but we didn’t want him to have nothing left for the next race,” trainer Naosuke Sugai said.
“This is the one we were going all in all along.”
“The norm has never applied with him,” jockey Hiroyuki Uchida aptly commented. “He’s still full of energy and the potential he’s always showed is incredible.
“In a few years, Gold Ship’s kids will be racing and it would be great to win the Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby [G1]) with one of them.”
Shonan Pandora was removed from consideration after a post-workout breathing issue, as relayed by the Racing Post’s Nicholas Godfrey.
That opened up a spot in the field, and according to Graham Pavey (@LongBallToNoOne), 7-year-old veteran Tosen Reve is the beneficiary. The half-brother to Buena Vista wheels back on a week’s rest after boosting his earnings with a win in last Sunday’s December S.
"When we entered (Tosen Reve) we didn't have enough prize money,” trainer Yasutoshi Ikee said, “but the win last week took us over the top. He'll be racing on back-to-back weekends but this was in our plans all along, so we're ready."
Ikee fields a trio of contenders, spearheaded by Lovely Day, who was third as the Japan Cup favorite: “It's difficult to stay in competitive form throughout the fall to the Arima Kinen so I've been impressed. He's been in excellent form.”
Yuga Kawada, Lovely Day’s rider, hopes that the change of venue to Nakayama will offset the added distance: "It's not his best distance (the 2,500 meters of the Arima Kinen) I'll admit, but I think he's got a better shot here (at Nakayama) than the 2,400 meters at Tokyo. It's on me to make sure he can run to the best of his ability."
Here are some other quotes from connections, all courtesy of japanracing.jp.
Trainer Takashi Kubota on Queen Elizabeth II Cup (G1) upsetter Marialite, who’s parked on the far outside in post 16: “She's in a much better state than I imagined she would be. The racetrack, the distance is good for her. We're going up against some of the best horses in the country so we're going for broke. But I'm kind of hoping she can do the job one, last time."
Jockey Keita Tosaki on Rouge Buck, a mighty fourth off a layoff in the QEII Cup: "She's such a good racehorse but I haven't been able to help her win a G1 title and it's been gnawing at me. I want to make up for it here - and then some. She shook off the rust through her last race and is much better now.”
Noriyuki Hori, trainer of budding staying star Albert: “He's in the same form he was in for his last race. His previous start was a marathon but didn't take long to get his wind back after the race. (Ryan) Moore made sure the race didn't take too much out of him. I really think it's up for grabs, which is a huge reason why we decided to throw our hat into the ring. We're going into the race with great expectations.”
Trainer Kojiro Hashiguchi on One and Only: “I thought he showed signs of turning it around in the Japan Cup. If he actually had a clean race last time, he would've at least reached the board. He was at a disadvantage during the trip but he still came on strong at the finish (for seventh).”
Trainer Kenichi Fujioka on Japan Cup fifth Sounds of Earth: "(Mirco Demuro) will ride beyond your expectations. You can trust him to get the most out of a horse and more, especially on the big stage. I think he has great instincts.”
For more details, including contenders Last Impact, Kitasan Black, Lia Fail, and Gold Actor, see the Arima Kinen preview.
Gold Ship photo copyright, and courtesy, Japan Racing Association.