Sodashi winning the 2022 Victoria Mile at Tokyo Racecourse. (JRA Photo)
Winner to Receive Automatic Berth into Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf at Santa Anita Park in World Championships
Breeders’s Cup Press Release
TOKYO — Kaneko Makoto Holdings Co. Ltd.’s defending champion Sodashi (JPN) and Shadai Race Horse Co. Ltd.’s multiple Group 1 winner Stars on Earth (JPN) lead a field of 16 fillies and mares in Sunday’s US$2.1 million Victoria Mile (G1) on turf at Tokyo Racecourse. The Victoria Mile winner will earn an automatic starting position and fees paid into the US$2 million Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) through the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series: Win and You’re In.
The Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series is an international series of 80 stakes races whose winners receive automatic starting positions and fees paid into a corresponding race of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, which is scheduled to be held Nov. 3-4 at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California.
The Victoria Mile will be shown live on FanDuel TV at 11:40 p.m. PT Saturday night, 2:40 a.m. ET Sunday morning.
The 5-year-old Sodashi, who makes an immediate impression with her striking white coat, has won seven of 14 starts including last year’s Victoria Mile, when she prevailed over Fine Rouge (JPN) by 2 lengths. Trained by Naosuke Sugai, Sodashi will be making her 2023 debut on Sunday. She closed out last year with a third-place finish, defeated less than 2 lengths, against male rivals in the Grade 1 Mile Championship in November at Hanshin. A daughter of Kurofune (JPN), Sodashi is seeking her third Group 1 triumph, having also won the Hanshin Juvenile Fillies and the Oka Sho (Japanese Oaks) in 2021. Damien Lane has the mount for the first time aboard Sodashi.
“Jockey Damian Lane rode her two weeks ago, and he said he found her easy to ride,” Sugai told the Japan Racing Association. “He has been studying all her races and I do want him to ride her as he feels is right. There are a lot of top horses in the lineup, but I want her to be able to bring out her best. Of course, I want results, but the most important thing is that she runs safely and comes out of the race well.”
Stars on Earth is a two-time winner of the Japanese classic races for fillies. Trained by Mizuki Takayanagi, Stars on Earth won last year’s Oka Sho (G1) and then the 1 1/2-mile Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks) (G1) over the Tokyo course. Going for a sweep of the classics in the Shuka Sho (G1) at Hanshin last October, she broke last and fought through traffic, finishing third behind Stunning Rose (JPN) and Namur (JPN). The 4-year-old daughter of Duramante (JPN) out of the Smart Strike mare Southern Stars (GB) has hit the board in all nine of her starts. After breaking slowly from the gate, she was extremely impressive in her seasonal debut against males on April 2 at Hanshin, closing with a furious rush in the 1 1/4-mile Osaka Hai (G1) and finishing just a nose short at the wire behind frontrunning Jack d’Or (JPN).
“She feels to be in perfect shape,” said her jockey Christophe Lemaire, following a recent workout. “On Wednesday morning, when I gave her a cue, her response was excellent. After the workout, I discussed the start with the trainer. Of course, I’m hoping for a good start this time. With it being only 1,600 meters, she’s going to have to have speed early on and I’m hoping to be able to get the position I want. We lost last time because we were racing from too far back. The start will be important.”
Sunday Racing’s 4-year-old Stunning Rose has won five of 12 races and was second to Stars on Earth in the Japanese Oaks before avenging that defeat in the Shuka Sho. Trained by Tomokazu Takano, the daughter of King Kamehameha (JPN) returns to the mile distance after six starts in longer races. She gave a good account of herself against males to open the season on Feb. 26, when she finished fifth, 1 1/2 lengths behind the winner, in the 1 1/8-mile Nakayama Kinen.
Carrot Farm Co. Ltd.’s Namur, a three-time winner in nine starts, also had a solid return to races this year when the 4-year-old daughter of Harbinger (GB) finished second in the 1-mile Tokyo Shimbun Hai (G3) over the course on Feb. 5, placing a head behind Win Caroline (JPN). A stablemate of Stunning Rose, Namur is also trained by Takano. After her runner-up finish in last year’s Shuka Sho, Namur finished fifth in her season finale last November in the 1 3/8-mile Queen Elizabeth II Cup at Hanshin.
Sunday Racing’s veteran Songline (JPN) finished fifth in last year’s Victoria Mile as the 5-1 second choice. Trained by Toru Hayashi, Songline came into the race off a dramatic victory by a neck over top American grass star Casa Creed in the 1351 Turf Sprint (G3) at King Abdulaziz in Saudi Arabia. After the Victoria Mile, the 5-year-old daughter of Kizuna (JPN) scored her biggest career triumph, taking the 1-mile Yasuda Kinen (G1) over males at Tokyo last June and gaining a Win and You’re In berth into the FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1). Staying in Japan for the remainder of the year, Songline finished fifth in the Sankei Sho Centaur Stakes (G2) at Chukyo last September. She disappointed in her attempt to repeat in the 1351 Turf Sprint, finishing 10th of 11 runners on Feb. 25.
Also of interest is the 5-year-old La La Christine (JPN), for owner Fujii Kosan and trainer Takashi Saito. La La Christine, a daughter of Mikki Isle (JPN), has won three of five starts during the past year, including notching her sixth career victory in the 7-furlong Kyoto Himba Stakes at Hanshin on Feb. 18.
As a part of the benefits of the Challenge Series, Breeders’ Cup will pay the entry fees for the winner of the Victoria Mile to start in the Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf, which will be run at 1 1/4 miles at Santa Anita. Breeders’ Cup will also provide a travel allowance for all starters based outside of North America to compete in the World Championships. The Challenge winner must be nominated to the Breeders’ Cup program by the pre-entry deadline of Oct. 23 to receive the rewards.