Keying Tower of London in the Asahi Hai Futurity

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

December 15th, 2017

With a purse of ¥134 million (more than $1.2 million) and Group 1 status, the Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes at Hanshin racecourse has historically been the championship race for two-year-olds in .

The 1,600-meter (about one mile) race will be contested on December 17th, and with a large field of sixteen starters, the Asahi Hai Futurity promises to be a competitive event with plenty of opportunities to make a nice score in the wagering.

In going over the entries, I like the chances of #3 Tower of London. The son of 2008 Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I) winner Raven’s Pass has been almost unstoppable so far, winning three of his four starts and missing by less than a length in his lone defeat. Two starts back, Tower of London won the 1,400-meter (about seven furlongs) Kikyo Stakes at Hanshin by a decisive 3 ½ lengths, stopping the clock in a quick 1:21.70 and missing the course record by just 0.60 seconds. He was even more impressive in the Keio Hai Nisai Stakes (Jpn-II) at Tokyo on November 4th, running the final 600 meters in a blazing :33.20 to win by two lengths while clocking 1,400 meters in 1:21.90, just 0.70 off the course record.

Tower of London is trained by Kazuo Fujisawa, who won this race last year with Satono Ares and sent out Rey de Oro and Soul Stirring to complete a memorable sweep of the Japan Oaks (Jpn-I) and Japan Derby (Jpn-I) earlier this year. Christophe Lemaire, one of the leading jockeys in Japan, has guided Tower of London through his first four starts and will be aboard again on Sunday. Taking all of this together, I’m expecting a big run from Tower of London and will be surprised if he doesn’t finish in the top two.

Another logical contender is #1 Danon Premium, who is 2-for-2 with a win in a newcomer’s race at Hanshin being followed by a 1 ¾-length score in the Saudi Arabia Royal Cup (Jpn-III) at Tokyo two months ago. His performance in the latter race was particularly notable as he clocked the 1,600-meter distance in 1:33 flat and ran the final 600 meters in a quick :34.40 seconds; furthermore, the eighth-place finisher—Ruggero—came back to win the Cattleya Sho on dirt at Tokyo, a prep race for the Kentucky Derby. Danon Premium is a son of Japan’s leading sire Deep Impact and figures to give Tower of London a stiff challenge.

Danon Premium’s stablemate #12 Danon Smash has also impressed with a pair of quick wins going 1,400 meters at Hanshin and Kyoto, including the Momiji Stakes. While his pedigree suggests that shorter distances might be his forte (Danon Smash’s sire is the six-time Group 1-winning sprinter Lord Kanaloa), his solid turn-of-foot at 1,400 meters suggests that another 200 meters could be within his reach.

Since I believe that Tower of London will be tough to keep out of the top two, I’ll key him in the exacta with Danon Premium and Danon Smash...

$5 exacta: 3 with 1,12 ($10) $5 exacta: 1,12 with 3 ($10)

Good luck!