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Posted 2023-06-02 10:10:36  
White Wonder Headlines Top Japanese Mile

The Yasuda Kinen rounds out five straight weeks of Grade 1 action at Tokyo on Sunday, June 4, as the main race at the Fuchu course. The mile race is for 3-year-olds and up, and brings the curtain down for a while on some exciting racing, which has included the G1 Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks) and last week’s G1 Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby).

The Grade 1 Yasuda Kinen was first run in 1951 and gets its name from the first JRA president, Izaemon Yasuda, who died in 1958. The race became a Grade 1 in 1984, and was given international Grade 1 status in 1993. Overseas winners have been Heart Lake (1995), Fairy King Prawn (2000) and Bullish Luck (2006). There will be no challengers from abroad this year.

There have been 21 nominations for this year’s race, including Sodashi and Songline, with both horses having battled things out together just recently in the Grade 1 Victoria Mile. Weights for the race are set at 58kg for 4-year-olds and up, while 3-year-olds carry 54kg, a healthy weight advantage. Fillies and mares get to claim a 2kg allowance.

In the past 10 years, just three first favorites have won, while 4-year-olds have been the dominant age group with five wins in the same time span. Record time for the race was set in 2019 when Indy Champ won in a time of 1 minute, 30.9 seconds. This year’s winner’s check is JPY180 million (around USD1.3 million), and there’s an automatic entry for the winner to the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Mile later this year if connections decide to take up the offer.

A couple of races leading up to this Sunday’s race have been the Grade 2 Yomiuri Milers Cup, run at Kyoto in April, and the recent Grade 1 Victoria Mile, run just three weeks ago over the course and distance of this week’s race. Final declarations and the barrier draw will come out later in the week. The Grade 1 Yasuda Kinen is Race 11 on the Sunday card at Tokyo with a local post time of 15:40.

Here’s a look at some of the runners taking on the 73rd running of the race:

Sodashi: The fans’ favorite was desperately unlucky to come out second best in the Grade 1 Victoria Mile last time. A mile is her best distance, and the roof would come off the grandstand this time if she could manage to win. Latest comments from her trainer, Naosuke Sugai, were: “Now she’s older, things are smoother with her, especially loading at the gate and when she’s in the gate. It was a good run last time, and nothing else got to her except the winner. Thankfully she came out of that race with no problems.” Yuga Kawada will ride Sodashi this time, as the 5-year-old mare looks for her fourth JRA Grade 1 win and her first in the Yasuda Kinen.

Songline: Renewing rivalry with Sodashi again, Songline is looking to win the race for the second consecutive year, something which has just been achieved three times before in the history of the race (Vodka was the last to do it in 2008 and 2009). Trainer Toru Hayashi is upbeat on her chances of another win. “She’s come back from the farm in great condition. Jockey Keita Tosaki had worked with her for three weeks before the last race and has really got to understand her well. She started smoothly last time, and it really was a great performance, one which we hope she can reproduce again here,” the trainer said.

Serifos: The 4-year-old by Daiwa Major was campaigned in Dubai earlier this year, where he finished fifth in the Grade 1 Dubai Turf. This will just be his second start of the year, but he won last year’s Grade 1 Mile Championship in good style and the mile seems to be his perfect distance. Assistant trainer Yuya Katayama said: “After Dubai and his quarantine period at Miki Horseland Park, he then went to Champion Hills farm before returning to the stable on May 9. He seems in good shape after his overseas trip, so to get him ready this time there shouldn’t be any problems. He’s nice and relaxed too.” Damian Lane will ride Serifos, as he has done in the horse’s last two starts.

Jack d’Or: The front-running chestnut horse by Maurice did just that when he won his last race, the Grade 1 Osaka Hai, when Yutaka Take gave him a great ride to see out the distance of 2,000 meters in that race. It was Jack d’Or’s first Grade 1 win and he thoroughly deserved it, but there could still be more to come. Trainer Kenichi Fujioka commented: “After his last race, he had a break at Yoshizawa Stable West and returned to the training center on April 25. In recent work he posted a time of 50.2 seconds, and matched his best final furlong time of 12 seconds flat, but there’s still more in him that he can give.” Once again, Yutaka Take is expected to take the ride.

Red Mon Reve: Giving former jockey and current trainer, Masayoshi Ebina his first graded race win in the Grade 2 Keio Hai Spring Cup over 1,400 meters at Tokyo early in May, the 4-year-old colt by Lord Kanaloa seems to be on the up. With three of his five wins coming at Tokyo, he’s not one to forget about here. Assistant trainer Daisuke Tsumagari said: “He ran well last time in the Keio Hai Spring Cup, saving everything for his strong run in the home straight. It was his first time at the distance, but he still had a lot left at the finish. He’s taking on higher level races now, and a mile is easier for him to run over.”

Schnell Meister: The German-bred horse by Kingman first hit the headlines with his win in the Grade 1 NHK Mile Cup in 2021. He’s just had two wins since, which has perhaps been a little disappointing, but one of those wins came in his latest race, the Grade 2 Yomiuri Milers Cup at Kyoto. Trainer Takahisa Tezuka said: “Just before the finish in his last race, he produced a good burst of speed, which is what he’s capable of doing when he’s in form. After that he went to Northern Farm Tenei and everything’s been fine with him. He’s a little bigger at the moment, and his times in training have been just a little slow, but he’s moving well.” Schnell Meister finished second and third in the Grade 1 Yasuda Kinen in 2021 and 2022, respectively, and is well suited to the mile at Tokyo. Giving him extra assistance again this time will be the services of jockey Christophe Lemaire.

Gaia Force: This will just be the 4-year-old colt’s second run over a mile, but last time he put in a good run to finish second to Schnell Meister in the Grade 2 Yomiuri Milers Cup. Trainer Haruki Sugiyama commented: “After his last race he went to the farm and came back to the stable three weeks before this race. He’s been fine since that last run and he’s been moving well in his recent training. He handled the Kyoto track well over the mile, and it was a good race for him. He can adjust well to a fast pace.”

Champagne Color: A surprise winner of the recent Grade 1 NHK Mile Cup, the 3-year-old by Duramente is one of just two 3-year-olds nominated for this week’s race. His unbeaten record in three starts at Tokyo, and a useful weight advantage given this time, makes it difficult to overlook the colt’s chances. Trainer Tsuyoshi Tanaka said: “We’ve been monitoring him very carefully since his last race, with just three weeks in between runs. He was a little tired after his last race, but it hasn’t taken him long to recover, and we’ve had the jockey (Hiroyuki Uchida) just check things over with him in training. The horse should be fine from now leading up to the race.”

Others that deserve a mention are Danon Scorpion, Namur and Meikei Yell. Mirco Demuro rides Danon Scorpion for the first time, while Namur will be hoping for a smoother race and a change of luck. Meikei Yell takes on a mile again, but she has won over the distance, although it was back in 2021.

 Japan racing

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