Sodashi is quickly developing from being “that white filly” to genuine stardom, even if she is giving her backers some white hairs of their own along the way.
The distinctively colored daughter of Kurofune rolled to her fifth victory without a loss April 11, winning the Oka Sho (Japanese One Thousand Guineas, G1) at Hanshin Racecourse in course-record time.
But, in the end, Sodashi’s supporters had a scare as chief rival and race favorite Satono Reinas and jockey Christophe Lemaire came flying through the final 200 meters, falling just a neck short after a trouble-filled trip.
Sodashi wins the Oka Sho (Japanese One Thousand Guineas) at Hanshin Racecourse
Sodashi, by contrast, had a virtually perfect passage. After starting from the No. 4 gate, she saved ground through the backstretch run, well in touch with the early leaders. She moved up around the sweeping turn of the outer loop and surged to challenge entering the stretch. Climbing the rise to the finish, she opened just enough advantage to hold off Satono Reinas’s strong finish.
Fine Rouge also was closing and finished third, another 1/2 length in arrears, as Sodashi’s lead was quickly evaporating.
It was the second straight tight finish for Sodashi and Satono Reinas, who also flashed across the line 1-2, just a nose apart, in the Hanshin Juvenile Fillies (G1) to close out 2020. This time around, said winning rider Hayato Yoshida, his filly had things in hand.
“She responded beautifully and ran well holding off the others closing in on us, which I saw and made me drive her to the wire,” Yoshida said.
The race was the first leg of the Japanese Filly Triple Crown. While Sodashi finished the 1,600 meters (about a mile) of the Oka Sho in a record time of 1:31.1, she will have to prove herself at staying distances to win that title. The Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks, G1) is 2,400 meters (about 1 1/2 miles) and the Shuka Sho (G1) is 2,000 meters (about 1 1/4 miles). Daring Tact last year became the first to complete the series while undefeated.
Yoshida was full of confidence.
“It’s a great feeling,” he said. “There was a lot of pressure with many doubting how strong a white filly could be. So I’m thrilled that we were able to prove them wrong. Her potential is limitless.”
Owned and bred by Kaneko Makoto Holding Company and trained by Naosuke Sugai, Sodashi’s longest trip so far was 1,800 meters (about 1 1/8 miles), achieved in each of her first two starts, including a stakes-record time at Sapporo Racecourse.
She backed off from those efforts to win the Artemis Stakes (G3) at Tokyo Racecourse Oct. 31 and the Hanshin Juvenile Fillies Dec. 12, both at 1,600 meters.
Before the Shuko Sho, Sugai said Sodashi matured nicely during the break.
“I can’t even begin to describe how well she has come along,” Sugai said. “We did everything we wanted to after bringing her back to the training center two months ago. There were some mental aspects we needed to work on and she got gate practice, too.
“When she first got back, she was a bit nervous but she has matured over these two months and I see a marked difference.”