2016 News

October 11, 2016


Shuka Sho (G1) - Preview
Oka Sho (Japanese 1000 Guineas) (G1)

Shion Stakes (Shuka Sho Trial) (G3)

Flower Cup (G3)
Angel Face

There are many attractions in the city of Kyoto at this time of year, and not least of all are the Grade 1 races held at Kyoto Racecourse this autumn, when the weather is hopefully at its best, and there’s plenty for everyone at the picturesque course. Beginning on Sunday, October 16, the 21st running of the Grade 1 Shuka Sho will take place – the final leg of three Grade 1 races for 3-year-old fillies throughout the year, sometimes called the fillies’ Triple Crown. Only four horses in history have won all three races. The great Gentildonna was the last to do so in 2012. The Shuka Sho was first run in 1996, when the Queen Elizabeth II Cup was opened up to older fillies and mares, and the latter is now run later in the autumn.

This year’s Shuka Sho has attracted 22 nominations, but unfortunately, among them, one of the year’s top fillies, Sinhalite, has sustained a tendon injury to her left foreleg and will not take part. Major Emblem is another horse out through injury, although earlier this year she was demonstrating her prowess as a miler. So it’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good, and because of these two absentees, several other fillies have their chances now to take center stage.

Lead up races to the Shuka Sho have included the Grade 2 Rose Stakes, Grade 3 Shion Stakes, and Grade 1 Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks). The fillies this Sunday will carry a set weight of 55kgs, and the race is run over 2,000 meters on the Kyoto inner turf course, with the start in front of the stands. There’s a prize money boost which sees the winner carry off 92 million yen from a total purse of close to 200 million yen. In the past decade, nine winners of the race have been among the first three in the betting, and three first favorites have won, making it a good race for fancied runners. Record times for the race have tumbled the last two years, with last year’s winner, Mikki Queen, currently the holder, when winning in a time of 1 minute, 56.9 seconds.

Here’s a look at some of the contenders for this year’s Shuka Sho:

Jeweler: A bay filly by Victoire Pisa, she won the Oka Sho (Japanese 1000 Guineas) when given a great ride by jockey Mirco Demuro to just steal the race from Sinhalite. The jockey has ridden her four times in her five starts, and looks set to partner her again in the Shuka Sho. Jeweler finished 11th in her most recent race, the Grade 2 Rose Stakes over 1,800 meters at Hanshin in September, which was her first race since the Oka Sho.  The ground was yielding that day, which made it hard for her after the layoff. Trainer Kenichi Fujioka says the horse is “very well,” and in a piece of work on the uphill track at the Ritto Training Center on October 5th, Jeweler marked a four furlong time of 54.8 seconds, with three furlongs at 40.1 seconds, and a final furlong time of 12.9 seconds.  Her prize money tally stands at 155 million yen, as she bids for more success for owner Yoichi Aoyama. It will be the first time for Jeweler to race beyond 1,800 meters.

Biche: The Deep Impact filly made a big impression when winning the Grade 3 Shion Stakes over 2,000 meters at Nakayama in September, her most recent start. The closing speed she found that day must speak volumes for her future. She was third in the Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks), and has three wins from five starts, only being unplaced once in her career. She’ll be having her first run at Kyoto, but like Nakayama, it’s a right handed track, and leading jockey Keita Tosaki is most likely in for the ride.

Vivlos: Another Deep Impact filly who’s trained by this year’s Derby winning trainer, Yasuo Tomomichi. It will be the first time at Grade 1 level for Vivlos, but the Northern Racing bred filly has two wins and two seconds from six career starts, and is coming off a second place finish to Biche in the Grade 3 Shion Stakes. She had two runs at Kyoto as a 2-year-old, finishing second and first, and in two races over 2,000 meters, she has finished first and second, so she looks capable of a big run this week.

Frontier Queen: The likely mount of jockey Masayoshi Ebina, who has ridden the filly seven times and has won this race in 2010 on Apapane. Frontier Queen is a bay filly by Meisho Samson, so she certainly has stamina in her pedigree. She was sixth in the Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks), and third on her latest run in the Grade 3 Shion Stakes over 2,000 meters, when she was always well placed throughout the race. She wasn’t beaten much by both Sinhalite and Major Emblem in races earlier this year, so her form stacks up well.

Crocosmia: With two wins from 11 starts, the Katsuichi Nishiura-trained filly recently tried to lead all the way in the Grade 2 Rose Stakes on a heavy track and very nearly stole the show. This looks to be the way she might be ridden from now. She has had one start in a Grade 1, and that was when she finished eighth in the Hanshin Juvenile Fillies as a 2-year-old. She’s never raced at Kyoto, but Crocosmia is an interesting entry for Sunday.

Kaiserball: This well bred filly is by Empire Maker, out of Japanese 1000 Guineas winner, Dance in the Mood. Whats more, she’s trained by Katsuhiko Sumii, who sent out Aventura to win the Shuka Sho in 2011. Kaiserball is two wins from eight starts, and is coming off a third place finish in the Grade 2 Rose Stakes. The Shadai Farm bred filly is tackling 2,000 meters for the first time, and jockey Hirofumi Shii, who’s ridden her five times already and gets on well with the horse, will most likely partner her again on Sunday.

Mieno Succeed: A chestnut filly by Stay Gold, Mieno Succeed is trained by Ryo Takahashi and is coming off two straight wins, the latest in the Yuzuki Tokubetsu over 1,800 meters at Hanshin in September. She’s flying through the grades and has taken an interesting path to get here, and while it will be tough taking on her first Group race, she certainly adds another interesting angle to things here.

Angel Face: Racing in the Lord Horse Club colours, Angel Face is looking to recapture her form, after finishing 10th in the Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks) and then 16th in the Grade 3 Shion Stakes most recently, when she faded out of contention at the end.  Prior to those runs, she had won twice and finished second twice. Helping her cause will most likely be jockey Suguru Hamanaka, who has won the last two runnings of the Shuka Sho.

Pearl Code: This filly by Victoire Pisa has had five career starts, all as a 3-year-old, and has won twice and been unplaced just once. She won on her debut at Kyoto in January over 1,800 meters on a firm track. She’s been ridden by Yuga Kawada in her last two starts, the latest when she finished fifth to Biche in the Grade 3 Shion Stakes.

Red Avancer: The likely ride of Yutaka Take, who has won the Shuka Sho no less than three times and recently rode his 4,000th career winner. Red Avancer is trained by Hidetaka Otonashi, who is enjoying a successful year in the trainers’ ranks. Red Avancer is a filly by Deep Impact who has two wins and two seconds from an eight-race career to date. Both of her wins have been as a 3-year-old, and she’s just looking to find that bit extra after finishing seventh in both the Oka Sho (Japanese 1000 Guineas) and the Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks), and most recently eighth in the Grade 2 Rose Stakes.


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