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Some clouds hanging over Maurice as he searches for fifth G1 in a row


On a stupendous winning streak of four top-level events, Japan’s 2015 Horse of the Year Maurice has been considered rather unstoppable. And now, on the eve of the G1 Yasuda Kinen (1600m) back in Japan following his victory in the G1 Champions Mile at Sha Tin on 1 May, Maurice is still considered a heavy favourite for the winner’s circle.

That said, a rare Friday workout for Maurice at Tokyo Racecourse on 27 May opened the door for doubt that the champion is truly unbeatable. Maurice breezed over 5 furlongs in a time of 65.5 seconds, with the final furlong in 11.5 seconds. Assistant trainer Atsunori Hashimoto commented, “His movement was good, but he’s still a bit heavy. His breathing over the final 3 furlongs wasn’t that good, so I’m hoping it’ll improve with a bit more work.”

Racing fans in Japan are concentrating their efforts on other leading contenders hoping to catch Maurice. Best chances are being given to the 4-year-old Deep Impact colt Real Steel from the stable of Yoshito Yahagi. Real Steel is coming off a win in the G1 Dubai Turf (1800m), but has yet to win a G1 race on home ground. Working on the hill course at Ritto on Tuesday, assistant trainer Shin Kakizaki said, “Looking at his last race, his time today was more than sufficient. He’s in good shape and there are no worries regarding his condition.”

Satono Aladdin, a 5-year-old trained by Yasutoshi Ikee, only won his first graded stakes race last time in the G2 Keio Hai Spring Cup (1400m) on 14 May, but the Deep Impact colt did run second to A Shin Hikari last June in the G3 Epsom Cup (1800m). He also finished a length and a half fourth behind Maurice in the G1 Mile Championship last year. Satono Aladdin was given a bit of fast work on Wednesday under jockey Yuga Kawada. The pair worked over 1400m in tandem starting about a second behind the other horse and catching and passing him at the finish. Satono Aladdin covered the final furlong in 11.5 seconds under Kawada’s whip.

2014 Satsuki Sho (Group 1) winner Isla Bonita is aiming for only his second G1 win after the Satsuki Sho. Though he did claim the G2 St. Lite Kinen in September 2014, he failed to win his next eight starts. Isla Bonita is paired with Masayoshi Ebina, who rode work both last week and this week. Isla Bonita clocked 80.1 seconds over 1200m of the woodchip course at Miho on 25 May. “His movement was good, but I do wonder if he’s OK coming off a layoff,” Ebina commented with some concern. “He’ll be back at Tokyo for the first time in a while though it’s a track he is well-suited to.” Isla Bonita has racked up four wins from nine starts at Tokyo. On Wednesday, 1 June, Ebina breezed him over 1000m in a time of 65.9 seconds.

Hong Kong’s Contentment warmed up in the trotting ring at Tokyo on Wednesday before being taken at an easy gallop over two laps on the dirt course. Trainer John Size said, “He looked quiet to me the other day in his stall but this morning I was relieved to see that his appetite was at its best so far and he looked full of pep. I’d like him to gain back a bit more of the weight he lost, but I think he’ll improve as the race approaches. I plan to give him a fast workout tomorrow.”

Other hopefuls considered able to finish in the top spots are Fiero and Danon Shark. The former worked on the hill course at Ritto on Wednesday and clocked 51.6 seconds up 800m with a final 200 in 12.2 seconds. Danon Shark also got high marks for his workout on the hill course the same day.



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Yasuda Kinen


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