2022 News

October 11, 2022


Shuka Sho (G1) - Preview
Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks) (G1)
Stars on Earth

Shion Stakes (Shuka Sho Trial) (G3)
Stunning Rose

Kansai Telecasting Corp. Sho Rose Stakes (Shuka Sho Trial) (G2)
Art House

Tulip Sho (Japanese 1000 Guineas Trial) (G2)

Sound Vivace
Sound Vivace


Daily Hai Queen Cup (G3)
Presage Lift

Hanshin Racecourse hosts the top action this weekend, with the 27th running of the Shuka Sho scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 16. Nominated for the 2,000-meter turf event are 22 of Japan’s top three-year-old fillies, eight of whom are tied for earnings and will be chosen by lot for the final four slots of 16. The race is Hanshin’s 11th on a card of 12, with a post time of 15:40 locally.

This year, the Fillies’ Triple Crown is on the line as Stars on Earth aims to add another big victory to the first two victories in the Oka Sho (Japanese 1000 Guineas) and the Yushin Himba (Japanese Oaks). If she can pull it off, she’ll become the seventh filly to sweep the Classics and secure the Triple Crown.  

Stars on Earth is expected to be a popular pick on Sunday, with her biggest rivals seen to be Stunning Rose, who lost the Japanese Oaks by a mere nose, Art House, just off a win in the Kansai Telecasting Corp. Sho Rose Stakes, and Namur, who finished third in the Oaks.

Like last year, the Shuka Sho will once again be held at Hanshin due to renovations at its regular venue Kyoto. The race will be run over the 2,000-meter inner A course, which starts before the grandstand. The ground rises from the start as the horses battle for position. The track remains relatively flat down the backstretch, then the field picks up speed as the ground dips gradually into the straight, and rises sharply again 200 meters before the finish line.

Here is a look at some of the hopefuls vying for the Shuka Sho top prize of JPY110 million.

Stars on Earth: This daughter of Duramente was not the favorite in either of her first two Grade 1s. Though she had made the Top 3 in all her previous starts, she had only one low-level win to her name when she went to the gate of the 1,600-meter Oka Sho as seventh pick. From there, she was sent directly to the Oaks and took that by a nose over Stunning Rose. Not only is she coming unprepped to the gate this time, she’s returning after recovering from chip fractures discovered in both her forelegs in the week following the Oaks. Stars on Earth was back in work at the farm in mid-August and returned to Miho Training Center a month later. Jockey Christophe Lemaire was up last Thursday for flat work. “She wasn’t tired at all and her breathing was good. She upped the pace on her own,” the jockey commented afterward. Trainer Mizuki Takayanagi was satisfied as well. “She has refreshed from the time off and her footwork was excellent.”

Stunning Rose: The King Kamehameha-sired Stunning Rose has also proved highly consistent. She has made the board in all her nine starts to date and has only missed the Top 3 twice. She tops the Shuka Sho nominees for wins with a total of four victories. Despite her win in the Grade 3 Flower Cup, her lack of experience at the Classic distance saw her a longshot in the Oaks, which was her first Grade 1 bid. As the frontrunners flagged in the Classic’s final stages, Stunning Rose held her ground under jockey Damian Lane and was just caught at the wire by Stars on Earth. On Sept. 10, she returned after four months off to top Sound Vivace in the Grade 3 Shion Stakes over 2,000 meters at Nakayama. She was ridden by jockey Ryusei Sakai, who will also have the ride on Sunday. Stunning Rose had time off at the farm after her last race. “They worked on getting her over any fatigue, especially along her back,” trainer Tomokazu Takano said. “She came back on Sept. 30 looking very fresh and her footwork has been excellent.”

Art House: The chestnut filly Art House returned after a four-month spell to scoop the Grade 2 Rose Stakes at Chukyo on Sept. 18. She topped runner-up Saliera by half a length and Shuka Sho nominee Eglantyne, who finished in third place. Art House is a daughter of 2008 Japan Cup winner Screen Hero and her dam, Pearl Code, who also hailed from the stable of Mitsumasa Nakauchida, finished a close second in the 2016 Shuka Sho. A specialist over 2,000 meters, Art House’s three wins from her five starts have all come at the distance, two of them at Hanshin. Jockey Yuga Kawada, who won the Oka Sho aboard Stars on Earth, chose Art House for the Oaks and is scheduled for the ride on Sunday as well. Kawada also rode Art House’s dam in both her Grade 1 bids, which she failed to win. “In her mother’s place, I want to make Art House a Grade 1 champion.” Kawada, who has yet to win the Shuka Sho, commented.

Namur: The second of two fillies being fielded by Tomokazu Takano is the Harbinger-sired Namur. Third in the Oaks after an uncharacteristically smart start, Namur’s only distance prior to that race was the mile. She had finished fourth in the Grade 1 Hanshin Juvenile Fillies and had won the Grade 2 Tulip Sho (both races at Hanshin), but finished 10th in the Oka Sho. Though that may look like a miserable performance at first glance, the top 10 finishers were all extremely close, with Namur’s time only 0.3 seconds slower than what winner Stars on Earth clocked. But the stars bode well for Namur as well. Her third dam (maternal great-grandmother) Kyoei March was runner-up in the 1997 Shuka Sho. Also in 2014, when Takano also sent two fillies to the Shuka Sho, he won it with Shonan Pandora, who went on to win the Japan Cup one year later. Takano does have a way with the fillies and mares - 13 of his 20 graded-stakes wins have been captured by fillies and mares, and fillies landed him all three of his Grade 1 wins so far. Namur has matured considerably over the summer, and is eating more heartily than before. “I think she’s better suited to this distance than she is to the Oaks’ 2,400 meters,” the trainer commented.

Others to watch are:

Eglantyne may be one to look out for. After winning over the Kokura 2,000 meters, she finished third in the Grade 2 Rose Stakes, her first graded stakes bid, and improvement is expected. Sound Vivace had to be scratched from the Oaks after getting loose just before the race starts, but returned markedly matured for a second place by a neck in the Grade 3 Shion Stakes. Finishing third in the Shion Stakes was Lilac, who has improved at the break, and is said to be eating well and looking much improved. Presage Lift returns unprepped from a fifth in the Oaks, but her work on Oct. 5 had her looking improved and ready. She is expected to be partnered with last year’s Shuka Sho winning jockey Keita Tosaki.


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