While we wait for the English 1000 Guineas and Kentucky Oaks, Japan starts things up with the running of the G1 Oka Sho (1000 Guineas).
The unicorn, Sodashi makes her return to the races after an undefeated 2yo campaign. She went 4 for 4 last year and will have the weight of Japan on her back. While she will be the favourite, she’ll have a host of competitors looking to throw some dirt on that sparkling white coat.
Race 11 – G1 Oka Sho – 3yo Fillies – 8f Turf – 2:40 am ET/11:40 pm PT
18 Satono Reinas – An unlucky loser to Sodashi in the G1 Hanshin Juvenile Fillies. That day jockey Lemaire had to earn his pay, weaving around and in between horses to just lose the head bob. This daughter of Deep Impact comes in fresh and according to trainer Kuneida has grown in muscle and calmness. Drew the far outside but do not see that as a huge issue for her here, with stamina running through her bloodlines (a full sister to G2 winner Satono Flag). I expect Lemaire to sit mid pack and swoop late on the far outside. She should be the 2nd choice in the wagering but the presence of Sodashi should drive up her price.
2 Fine Rouge – Has done little wrong in her short career, going 2 for 3 while scoring last time out in the G3 Fairy Stakes at this Mile distance. Some may play down that race but she did it in hand with something left in the tank. Like that the race was right handed so she gained experience there for the race today. She defeated Ho O Ixelles in that event who returned to win the G3 Flower Cup (and is facing her again in here). Drew well on the inside and picks up jockey Fukunaga who’s having a great year (4th in the standings). See her sitting in 4th or 5th in behind horses then making her move turning for home. Lots to like at a price.
13 Elizabeth Tower – The only non-Japanese bred horse in the field, this daughter of Kingman out of a German Oaks winning mare hopes to “Tower” over her competitors today. A perfect two for two at Hanshin so should have no excuses of not liking the racetrack. She battled the length of the stretch in her last, the G2 Tulip Sho when dead-heating with Meikei Yell for the win. The time for that race fits in well here and makes her one of the top competitors. That has been a very productive race for this event with runners fairing very well. Had her tabbed for 2nd originally but the draw did her no favours as she is usually forwardly placed and more of a grinder. Has the hottest rider in Japan aboard right now in the form of Yuga Kawada (has won the last two G1 events this year). If he can work out a trip she can be right there.
4 Sodashi – The “unicorn” in the field. A beautiful and striking white daughter of Kurofune out of the white and brown spotted mare Buchiko. The fairytale was perfect in 2020 with her going 4 for 4 including a year end nose victory in the G1 Hanshin Juvenile fillies (over this same track and distance). Her sire and mother did their best running at this distance so think this is her #1 goal for this year. She’s a gutsy horse who doesn’t know how to lose, with the best option of beating her may be to pull a Touch Gold like move late (far outside where she can’t see you). She has a great draw, a ton of class and will be tough to beat in here. I’ll be using her defensively in wagers but others appeal more on the win front. Time to come back to reality.
8 Meikei Yell – Picks up talented veteran rider Norihiro Yokoyama who knows how to win G1 events. She certainly isn’t an easy filly to ride, with her usually being headstrong and hard to restrain. She has loads of talent so the question will be if he fights her or tries to rate her while sapping her energy. The best tactics may be to take this field as far as she can go on the front end. Not sold on her really wanting this distance but can get the eight furlongs as shown in her last (Dead Heat with Elizabeth Tower). If she can settle she will be in the thick of it.