2015 Victoria Mile (G1) - Preview
If it’s girls you like, Tokyo Racecourse is the place to be this Sunday. Neatly sandwiched in between the 3-year-old events, the Victoria Mile, with a first-place prize of 90 million yen, fills out the onslaught of G1s at Tokyo with girls of 4-year-olds and up and many of the best fillies and mares currently running.
Preceding the Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks) in the buildup to the Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby), the Victoria Mile is the perfect place to see old friends amid the weeks of youngsters and new faces. This year in its 10th running, the race is the spring showcase for fillies and mares 4-year-olds and up. But, many of these girls can trounce the boys as well.
Vodka, two years before winning the 2009 Victoria Mile, had been the first filly in 64 years to capture the Tokyo Yushun. She won recognition as Horse of the Year twice. Buena Vista won the race in 2010 before being named Horse of the Year, and Apapane, who won in 2011 in a record time of 1 minute, 31.9 seconds that still stands, is only one of four horses to have ever aced the fillies' Triple Crown -- the Oka Sho (Japanese 1000 Guineas), Yushun Himba and Shuka Sho.
Tokyo Racecourse is a tough venue to prove oneself at, with its wide, sweeping turns and long homestretch. The mile at Fuchu, where races are run to the left, is considered to be the toughest of the JRA courses, requiring the stamina needed for longer races at other tracks. Times for the final 600 meters tend to be slower.
The Tokyo 1,600 starts at the beginning of the backstretch for a run of more than 500 meters. From the gate, the track dips slightly from about 250 meters out and the pace tends to be slightly faster than average. The track rises again heading into the bend and just when horses are looking for a breather, none can be had, as the track dips around the bend and into the stretch. The course bends over 400 meters and leads into the final straight of 525 meters. Here again, horses face an upward slope over 225 meters until the ground flattens over the final 300 meters.
Though open to foreign-based runners, there are none in this year's lineup. The Victoria Mile is the 11th race on the 12-race Sunday card at Tokyo. Post time is 3:40 p.m. All carry 55 kg.
Following is a look across the field and likely top picks.
* * *
Nuovo Record – Japanese Oaks champion last year, this daughter of Heart’s Cry made the top spots in all the 3-year-old filly classics with a third behind Harp Star and Red Reveur in the first leg Oka Sho and a second to Shonan Pandora in the Shuka Sho, After the Shuka Sho, she raced again at Kyoto less than a month later in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup, took on older females for her first time, and just missed the win by a neck. Returning to the track following a 4-month layoff, she topped a field of 11 as the only female in the Nakayama Kinen, a G2 over 1,800 meters. The field was no pushover either, but included Satsuki Sho champs Logotype and Isla Bonita. With her track record, Nuovo Record is without a doubt Sunday’s standout. Though she has not raced at the mile since the Oka Sho, her first five starts were over the distance and she notched a fourth, third, second and two firsts from them, including a win at Tokyo. Though it may not be her absolute best distance, Nuovo Record has shown she can run from any position. Last week, the filly worked in tandem and, says trainer Makoto Saito, “She’s definitely gained strength even though she doesn’t look any bigger. This workout will have switched her on. With the all-female field, I’m hoping she’ll be able to claim the big title she missed out on last fall.” With room to run at Tokyo, Sunday’s G1 could easily translate to “Victory Mile” for Nuovo Record and land her second G1 jewel.
Dia de la Madre
Dia de la Madre – The 5-year-old King Kamehameha-sired Dia de la Madre sat out the classics as a 3-year-old and raced at the lower levels until her first G1 of her career, the 2013 Queen Elizabeth II Cup, in which she finished ninth. Last year, however, trainer Katsuhiko Sumii raced her consistently at the graded stakes level and she emerged a formidable force in all-female events. Dia de la Madre captured the G3 Mermaid Stakes and the G2 Fuchu Himba Stakes, then bettered her QEII score to three, as third-place finisher only 0.2 seconds behind runnerup Nuovo Record. Next time out at year end, she aced the Aichi Hai, an all-female G3 over 2,000 meters. What has made her a likely popular choice for the Victoria Mile, however, was her fine showing last time out, in the Yomiuri Milers Cup at Kyoto on April 26. Dia de la Madre ran seventh, but stood out when she shot from the back of the field to cover the final 3 furlongs in a smoking 31.9 seconds. And, as the only female among 18 runners, her finishing time was no dud either at only 0.4 seconds off the winner. Dia de la Madre’s dam Dia de la Novia notched three thirds at the G1 level, including a third in the 2006 Victoria Mile. She also finished sixth in 2007. “Dia de la Madre” translates from Spanish as “Mother’s Day” and though the Victoria Mile misses Mother’s Day by a week, Dia de la Madre’s third G1 bid could still prove a red-letter day and one that could make a mother proud.
Shonan Pandora – After beating Nuovo Record in the Shuka Sho, Shonan Pandora also went on to the QEII, but this time took a backseat to Nuovo Record with a sixth-place finish. Her only start since the fall G1 was the Sankei Osaka Hai, a G2 over 2,000 meters on April 5. A soft track and the nearly five months off surely combined as factors in a lackluster display that saw the Deep Impact 4-year-old cross the line in ninth place. In that race, she weighed 12 kg more than she had for her Shuka Sho win and the race is expected to have sharpened her up. Trainer Tomokazu Takano says, “The soft track last time out was just too tough for her. She looked tired after the race.” Shonan Pandora had a fast workout up the hill course last week in tandem with another and Takano claims, “She ran well and has definitely improved.” However, more of concern is the distance. Shonan Pandora’s three wins have all come over 2,000 meters and she has only seen the mile once before, as a 3-year-old in the third race of her career. She ran second in that race, the open-class Elfin Stakes, over a yielding track. Though the Tokyo venue will give her her best chance at the distance, the winner’s circle may prove far.
Smart Layer – Things looked promising for the Deep Impact-sired Smart Layer after winning five of her first eight races from her debut. Her wins included the 1,400-meter G2 Sankeisports Hai Hanshin Himba Stakes last spring and she had also run second in the 2013 Shuka Sho. Her six starts since last year’s Hanshin Himba Stakes, however have seen her winless, including an eighth in last year’s Victoria Mile,. Smart Layer did, however, run second in the G2 Fuchu Himba Stakes last fall at Tokyo but came back after four months off to run fourth in this year’s Hanshin Himba Stakes carrying 1 kg more than the three who beat her to the wire. She should show improvement from her last run and Tokyo may prove a welcome change of pace. “She did run an honest race last time out, but the track hurt,” says trainer Ryuji Okubo. “She should be able to use her late speed to full advantage here and a firm track would be an extra plus.”
Cafe Brilliant – Capturing the Hanshin Himba Stakes this year for a three-race winning streak was the Brian’s Time 5-year-old Cafe Brilliant. Trained by Noriyuki Hori, she had moved up to the graded stakes level for the first time after five wins and three seconds in 15 career starts. It was a neat win that saw her race more forward than usual and overtake front-running Belle Lumiere in the last moments. Cafe Brilliant is proven at the distance and the venue with three wins at the mile, including her win of the Setsubun Stakes at Tokyo in February. Slated for the ride is Yuichi Fukunaga, who has ridden her last two races, and will be looking to extend her streak to four.
Red Reveur – Red Reveur, out of the money since her second in the Oka Sho last year, is thought by some to be headed for a comeback. It’s a hard one to call, however, based on her recent form. The 4-year-old daughter of Stay Gold returned to the track from her 16th-place finish in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup to run sixth in the G2 Hanshin Himba Stakes last time out under Christophe Lemaire. The 1,400 meters of that race was her first distance at less than 1,800 since the Oka Sho, and her other three runs had been at 2,000 meters or more. She has the ability and should now be able to handle the haul to Tokyo better than she did for her bid in the Japanese Derby, her only run at Tokyo thus far. Trainer Naosuke Sugai says she has matured. “She quickened well in the finish of the Hanshin Himba Stakes and there was no drop in weight after the race. The long Tokyo stretch should be good for her and I think she has a chance in the condition she’s in now.” Partnered with Lemaire, a return to the mile, though a tough one, may be what this girl is looking for.
Keiai Elegant –The 6-year-old King Kamehameha-sired Keiai Elegant may prove an attractive darkhorse. After winning the G3 Kyoto Himba Stakes in January under Hiroyuki Uchida, Keiai Elegant was headed for the Nakayama Himba Stakes, but forced to withdraw with a sprain. She is said to have recovered well and be looking stronger. An expected return to her regular rider Yutaka Yoshida, however, will likely see odds rise. If the pace is not too heated, Keiai Elegant may be worth a wager.
Straight Girl – A sprinter with eight wins over 1,200 meters, Straight Girl managed to come from off the pace and make third in last year’s Victoria Mile a head behind runnerup Meisho Mambo. Last time out saw her 13th in the March 29 Takamatsunomiya Kinen, but considering it was her first race since her third in the Longines Hong Kong Sprint, the result can likely be thrown out. A firm track could see Straight Girl make it home in the money.
- Barrier draw
- Past performances of runners
- Race result
- 2023 English
- 2022 English
- 2021 English
- 2020 English
- 2019 English
- 2018 English
- 2017 English
- 2016 English
- 2015 English
- 2014 English
- 2013 English
- Photo Gallery
2023 Winner: Songline
2022 Winner: Sodashi