Following last week’s Grade 1 NHK Mile Cup, this week Tokyo Racecourse sees the older mares and mares at the Victoria Mile Grade 1 racing once again over the grueling 1,600 meters (one mile) of the track’s grass course.
The Victoria Mile winner receives an automatic starting position and paid $2 million in Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) fees. The Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf will be held at the Breeders’ Cup World Championships November 4-5 at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Kentucky.
This year there are 22 nominations for a field of 18 runners maximum and the race will see the return of the best three-year-old filly of 2020, Daring Tact, after a long layoff due to injury. It will be something quite spectacular if she can win her comeback race this time.
The 17th round of the Class 1 Victoria Mile will be race 11 on the Sunday Tokyo map and the local postal time is 3:40pm. Final statements and the barrier draw will be released later in the week.
Here’s a look at some of the mares and mares expected to compete in the race:
Daring tact: The now 5-year-old filly returns to the racetrack for the first time since her third place finish at the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup in Hong Kong in April 2021. Their jockey, Kohei Matsuyama, has also recently returned from injury It would be great to see the pair back together for a big result.
Coach Haruki Sugiyama said: “She hasn’t ridden for over a year now and we paid special attention to her legs but there are no problems. The jockey has also made sure she walks at a good rhythm and sets good times and also reports that her stride is now not quite as big as it used to be given the age of the horse.”
Lei Papale: It will be the first time for Deep Impact’s 5-year-old mare to compete in Tokyo, but she is tough enough and still boasts a 50% win rate, even though she struggled in the class last time 1, Osaka Hai had to be content with the penultimate place in the 2,000 meters at Hanshin in April.
Trainer Tomokazu Takano commented, “Although she didn’t win the Kinko Sho in March or the Osaka Hai after that, they were still respectable runs for a horse like her. The way she’s been going she seems to have gotten taller and more muscular so the timing seems right for her to complete the one mile distance so we went for that race.”
Lei Papale will be ridden by Yuga Kawada, who sort of won the Grade 1 NHK Mile Cup last Sunday.
resistance: Although she failed to last in the 1,200m at the Takamatsunomiya Kinen Class 1 in Chukyo last March, her sixth place finish, just 0.3 seconds behind the winner, was by no means disappointing. It must also be remembered that she came second in the 2020 Grade 1 NHK Mile Cup over the Tokyo Mile.
Coach Takeshi Matsushita said: “Last time she started as a favourite, so there was a bit of pressure on her. It was a difficult race as she came forward and set the pace but although she was caught at the finish I wasn’t too unhappy with the way things turned out. After that she went into the yard and since she has returned to the stable she looks and moves well.”
sodashi: The 4-year-old filly also returns here, to the delight of her legion of fans, as she strives for glory once again and attempts to achieve her first win since last year’s Grade 2 Sapporo Kinen. Most recently, she ran a mile in the Grade 1 February operations in Tokyo, her second start in the dirt, and finished a very respectable third place.
Trainer Naosuke Sugai commented on the eye-catching filly: “I thought it was a good result last time out in February. Seems she is miles capable in Tokyo with only one turn over that distance. She had her break at the farm but in the last practice session since she’s back she has run well and shown good speed.”
Fine blush: The Kizuna filly has only been spotted once this year when she finished 2nd in the Grade 3 Tokyo Shimbun Hai mile in February, and before that she also finished 2nd in the Grade 1 Shuka Sho 2000m at Hanshin last year last October . She has only been unplaced once in eight starts and is to be reckoned with.
Assistant Coach Yu Ota said, “Last time she got a little tight at the finish, while the winner had a nice, smooth run on the outside, and that certainly made a difference. Lately since she came back from the farm we’re just trying to improve things when she changes leadership.”
song line: Songline, another filly by Kizuna, boasts a pretty good batting rate, and she made headlines last time when she won the Class 3 1351 Turf Sprint in Saudi Arabia in February. Two of her four career wins came in Tokyo, and last year she finished second in the NHK Mile Cup.
Trainer Toru Hayashi recently said: “She is in very good shape after her stay at Northern Farm Tenei and since returning to the stables she has shown how well she can walk in her recent work. She is mentally and physically fit.”
Andvaranaut: She placed 11th and 2nd in her two races in 2022, most recently the Sankei Sports Hai Hanshin Himba Stakes Class 2 over a mile at Hanshin in April. Her third place finish in last year’s Grade 1 Shuka Sho should not be forgotten either. Coach Manabu Ikezoe hopes she will do her best in the next race.
“She ran well last time, with only one corner in the race, although she didn’t quite have her best finish. Since then she’s been in the yard, relaxing and preparing for her next race,” said the trainer.
Jockey Yuichi Fukunaga gets along well with the horse and is booked to ride this time.
Meisho mimosa: The Heart’s Cry daughter caused quite a stir last time out when she won her first ranked race, the Grade 2 Sankei Sports Hai Hanshin Himba Stakes over a mile at Hanshin, on her 26th career start in April. The 5-year-old mare started as the ninth favorite and fought bravely on at the finish line to claim another try at a big race this time.
Assistant trainer Akishi Higashida said, “It was the third time she wore blinders in her last race, but she put on a strong run and I think the blinders helped her in this race. She ran the 1,600m much better than I thought and I was able to give her good marks in that field.”