Global celebrity and Japanese champion Sodashi stormed to victory in Sunday’s $2.45 million Victoria Mile (G1) at Tokyo, a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” for the Filly & Mare Turf (G1). Although her fan club is dreaming of her possibly appearing at Keeneland in November, the white filly’s chances of making the trip are uncertain at best.
A champion at both two and three, Sodashi had not won since the Aug. 21 Sapporo Kinen (G2), where she beat next-out Filly & Mare Turf heroine Loves Only You as well as older males. Loves Only You not only went on to score an historic Breeders’ Cup win at Del Mar, but also capped her career by beating males in the Hong Kong Cup (G1).
Yet Sodashi had not duplicated that form in her interim starts. The Naosuke Sugai trainee hit her head on the gate in the Oct. 17 Shuka Sho (G1), injuring her mouth and winding up 10th. Next she tried dirt in the Dec. 5 Champions Cup (G1), only to tire to 12th after setting the pace. Sodashi fared much better when third in the Feb. 20 February S. (G1), also on dirt but cutting back to Tokyo’s one-turn mile.
Reverting to turf for the Victoria Mile, Sodashi thrived to defeat a terrific cast. The depth of the race was reflected in the betting, with Sodashi going off as the 4.70-1 fourth choice. Lei Papale was the 3.10-1 favorite following a second in her Osaka Hai (G1) title defense. Songline, who toppled males in the 1351 Turf Sprint (G3) on Saudi Cup Day last out, ranked as the second choice at 4.40-1, shading Fine Rouge at the same price. Past JRA champions Daring Tact and Resistencia were 7.40-1 and 11.80-1 chances, respectively.
Sodashi was quick into stride from post 5, but kindly eased back into fourth for regular rider Hayato Yoshida. The 194-1 Rosa Noir was intent on beating fellow speed Resistencia to the lead, and the longest shot on the board continued to hold sway until well into the stretch.
There was to be no shock result, however, as Sodashi struck top gear and rolled past Rosa Noir. The Kaneko Makoto Holdings homebred drove two lengths clear in a final time of 1:32.2.
A four-way tussle ensued for the minors. Fine Rouge grabbed second by a neck from the ever-prominent Resistencia, who got her nose down on the wire for third. Rosa Noir salvaged fourth by a nose from the staying-on Songline.
Daring Tact, returning from a year-long layoff, checked in sixth. The 2020 Fillies’ Triple Crown winner tipped the scales 22 kilograms (a little more than 48 pounds) heavier than her last domestic race in March 2021, so the five-year-old mare is entitled to move forward from this tightener.
Ablaze and Shadow Diva, the seventh and ninth, each posted their final 600 meters (about three furlongs) in a joint-best :32.9. Splitting them in eighth was Akai Ito. Miss New York crossed the wire in 10th, trailed by Divina; Lei Papale, whose marquee form is over further; Terzetto; Andvaranaut; Des Ailes; Kurino Premium; Magic Castle; and Meisho Mimosa.
Sodashi proved that a rare white Thoroughbred could also be a top-level performer with her landmark victory in the 2020 Hanshin Juvenile Fillies (G1). She remained unbeaten through the first fillies’ classic of 2021, the Oka Sho (Japanese 1000 Guineas) (G1) back at Hanshin, but lost her perfect mark in the Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks) (G1) that stretched her stamina. Sodashi’s third Grade 1 laurel in the Victoria Mile improved her scorecard to 11-7-0-1.
Yoshida commented on the fact that this was a first Grade 1 at Tokyo:
“The filly was relaxed and in good condition when I rode her in the post parade. Once she entered the gate, she was focused and was able to make a good break and I was able to ride her in good rhythm while holding down her pace. She responded well at the stretch and when I urged her to go.
“As today’s race included a very strong field, it was like a dream for a white horse to be able to win a Grade 1 race at Tokyo Racecourse.”
Sodashi is by Kurofune, who was a major winner on both dirt and turf, and out of the spotted white mare Buchiko by King Kamehameha. For more on her family and career through last summer, see the Sodashi feature on the TwinSpires.com Edge.
I’m thinking she will come to Keeneland given: 1) She could race in Paris in September as a final prep; and, b) the Japanese were successful in last year’s BC and this could further advance their global program. Or maybe I’m just hoping 🙂