Sodashi, Songline Renew Rivalry In 'Win And You're In' Yasuda Kinen - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Sodashi, Songline Renew Rivalry In ‘Win And You’re In’ Yasuda Kinen

Songline, ridden by Keita Tosaki, denies Sodashi, #16, a repeat victory in the Victoria Mile (G1) at Tokyo

Top 5-year-old mares Songline (JPN) and Sodashi (JPN), the first two finishers in the May 14 Victoria Mile (G1), will renew their rivalry June 4 against male opponents in the US$2.5 million Yasuda Kinen (G1) at Tokyo Racecourse.

The 73rd Yasuda Kinen, which drew a deep field of 18 starters, will be run at a mile for 3-year-olds and up and will be shown live on FanDuel TV at 11:40 p.m. PT Saturday evening. The race winner earns an automatic starting position and fees paid in the US$2 million FanDuel Breeders' Cup Mile (G1) through the Breeders' Cup Challenge Series: Win and You're In.

The Breeders' Cup Challenge Series is an international series of 80 Graded/Group stakes races whose winners receive automatic starting positions and fees paid into a corresponding race of the Breeders' Cup World Championships, scheduled to be held Nov. 3-4 at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California.

Sunday Racing Co. Ltd.'s Songline, the defending champion, earned a Breeders' Cup Challenge Series berth into the Maker's Mark Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) when she surged in the final yards to defeat Sodashi by a head in the Victoria Mile at Tokyo three weeks ago for her sixth win in 14 starts.

“She's come back from the farm in great condition,” Songline's trainer, Toru Hayashi, told the Japan Racing Association. “Jockey Keita Tosaki had worked with her for three weeks before the last race and has really got to understand her well. She started smoothly last time, and it really was a great performance, one which we hope she can reproduce again here.”

A daughter of Kizuna (JPN), Songline won last year's Yasuda Kinen by a neck over Schnell Meister (GER) to gain a free berth into the FanDuel Breeders' Cup Mile. She was scheduled to run in the Breeders' Cup Mile at Keeneland, but the trip was canceled due to an epiglottis inflammation.

Songline will break from the extreme outside post.

Sodashi appeared on her way to defending her title in the rainswept Victoria Mile before Songline passed her suddenly on the inside, disappointing the legion of fans who marvel at her striking white coat. A daughter of Kurofune (JPN), the Kaneko Makoto Holdings Co. Ltd. homebred has won seven of 15 starts for trainer Naosuke Sugai. Her resume includes two other Group 1 wins: the Osaka Hai (Japanese 1000 Guineas) in 2021 and the Hanshin Juvenile Fillies as a 2-year-old.

“Now [that] she's older, things are smoother with her, especially loading at the gate and when she's in the gate,” Sugai said of Sodashi. “It was a good run last time, and nothing else got to her except the winner. Thankfully, she came out of that race with no problems.”

G1 Racing Co. Ltd.'s 4-year-old Serifos (JPN) finished fourth in last year's Yasuda Kinen, but after a summer break came back strong in October to win the 1-mile Fuji Stakes (G2) over the Tokyo course. The son of Daiwa Major (JPN) topped that performance in his next outing, capturing the Nov. 20 Mile Championship (G1) at Hanshin by 1 1/4 lengths for trainer Mitsumasa Nakauchida. A five-time winner, Serifos opened the season with a fifth-place finish in the 1 1/8-mile Dubai Turf (G1) in March at Meydan.

Toshiyuki Maehara's 5-year-old Jack d'Or (JPN), trained by Kenichi Fujioka, has made his last five starts at the 1 1/4-mile distance, and earned his first Group 1 win when he began 2023 with a gate-to-wire score in the 1 1/4-mile Osaka Hai at Hanshin April 2, defeating Stars on Earth (JPN) by a nose. It was the eighth win in 14 starts for the son of Maurice (JPN) out of the Unbridled's Song mare Ravarino. Last August, Jack d'Or won the Sapporo Kinen (G2) over Panthalassa (JPN). In his next start, the Tenno Sho (G1) at Tokyo, Jack d'Or finished fourth behind Equinox (JPN) and Panthalassa. This year, Panthalassa captured the Saudi Cup (G1) in February, while Equinox won the Dubai Sheema Classic (G1) at Meydan in March to earn the top spot in the latest Longines World's Best Race Horse Rankings.

Sunday Racing's Schnell Meister split horses in the final 100 yards of last year's Yasuda Kinen and came up just short of defeating Songline. He finished third in the race in 2021. That season, the son of Kingman (GB) won his first Group 1, taking the NHK Mile Cup over Songline. He broke a six-race losing streak in dramatic fashion this year in the April 23 Yomiuri Milers Cup (G2) at Kyoto. Coming from 11th at the top of stretch on the far outside under jockey Christophe Lemaire, Schnell Meister rushed past an extended line of horses to get up by a neck over Gala Force (JPN), registering his fifth career win for trainer Takahisa Tezuka.

Yoichi Aoyama's 3-year-old homebred Champagne Color (JPN) will be making just his sixth start but comes into the race off a big upset at Tokyo where he took the May 7 NHK Mile Cup (G1), rolling from 13th in the final stages to claim victory by a neck at 22-1. It was the third win in five starts at Tokyo for the son of Duramante (JPN), who is trained by Tsuyoshi Tanaka.

A third female entrant is Nagayo Keiba, Co. Ltd.'s 5-year-old Meikei Yell (JPN), who has won seven of her 15 starts for trainer Hidenori Take. Focused mostly on sprint races in 2022, the daughter of Mikki Isle (JPN) won the Keio Hai Spring Cup (G2) last May at Tokyo and the Sankei Sho Centaur Stakes (G2) in September. She will look to improve on her 2023 debut when she finished 12th of 18 in the 6-furlong Takamatsunomiya Kinen (G1) at Chukyo on March 26 over a soft course.

Also of interest is one of Japan's top dirt horses, Koichi Nishikawa's 6-year-old Cafe Pharoah, a Kentucky-bred son of 2015 Triple Crown and Longines Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) winner American Pharoah. Trained by Noriyuki Hori, Cafe Pharoah won the February Stakes (G1) going a mile in 2021 and 2022, twice earning an automatic berth into the Longines Breeders' Cup Classic. This year, Cafe Pharoah finished third in the Saudi Cup and 12th in the Dubai World Cup (G1).

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