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HORSE RACING | Akaitorino Musume Triumphs in 26th Shuka Sho

Race favorite Sodashi faded down the stretch and finished 10th, while Keita Tosaki’s ride secured her first career Grade I victory with a late burst of speed.



Akaitorino Musume edges Fine Rouge in the Shuka Sho at Hanshin Racecourse on October 17.



Impressive closing speed by the top finishers produced an exciting conclusion to the 26th Shuka Sho.

As the dust settled, fourth favorite Akaitorino Musume reached the finish line first in the 2,000-meter race, the final leg of the Japanese Fillies’ Triple Crown, holding off the fast-charging Fine Rouge, guided by Christophe Lemaire, by a half-length at Hanshin Racecourse.

Keita Tosaki rode the Deep Impact-sired bay foal through a crowded field of 3-year-olds and found room to operate and make a decisive push for the front of the pack over the final stretch.

In recording her first career Grade I victory, Akaitorino Musume clocked 2 minutes, 1.2 seconds on the turf course in Takarazuka, Hyogo Prefecture. The victory was trainer Sakae Kunieda’s 20th in G1 races, the ninth for Tosaki.

Andvaranaut (Yuichi Fukunaga’s ride) was a half-length behind Fine Rouge.

Rounding out the top seven were A Shin Hiten (Fuma Matsuwaka), Slyly (Yukito Ishikawa), Stellaria (Yutaka Take) and Art de Vivre (Kohei Matsuyama). Watch the race here.

White filly Sodashi emerged as the favorite for the final leg of the Triple Crown after winning the first leg, the Oka Sho (Japanese 10,000 Guineas), on April 11, and claiming victory in the G2 Sapporo Kinen, another 2,000-meter race, on August 22.

Guided by Hayato Yoshida, Sodashi looked poised to be in the hunt for the title, as evidenced by her second-place position after the first, second, third and fourth corners. But over the final three furlongs (about 600 meters), Sodashi’s speech didn’t match the pace of several strong finishers.

Sodashi clocked 37.3 seconds over that stretch. Fine Rouge covered that distance in 35.5 seconds, Stellaria did it in 35.7 and Slyly and winner Akaitorino Musume both clocked 35.9.

“There was a strong idle horse in today’s race but I’m really glad we were able to claim the last leg of the Triple Crown,” the 41-year-old Tosaki said, looking back at the 16-horse competition. “I was able to settle the filly in good position and race her in good rhythm. She responded willingly and stretched really well in the lane.

“I think she is a strong horse and felt that she has stepped up to the next level. I look forward to her performances going forward.”

A Shin Hiten set the pace and led from the start until 100 meters remained in the race. But a wire-to-wire victory was not in the cards.

Galloping on the outside, Akaitorino Musume’s burst of speed overtook A Shin Hiten, with Fine Rouge in pursuit. Andvaranaut was also in the mix, just behind Lemaire’s horse before they reached the finish line.

The Shuka Sho was the second Grade I event on the Japan Racing Association calendar this month.

Fukunaga rode third favorite Pixie Knight to victory in the Sprinters Stakes, a 1,200-meter race, at Nakayama Racecourse in Funabashi, Chiba Prefecture, on October 3. Pixie Knight earned a two-length victory over Lemaire and Resistencia with a time of 1:07.4.


Last October, Daring Tact became the sixth horse to earn a clean sweep in the Japanese Fillies’ Triple Crown.

Author:  Ed Odeven

Follow Ed on JAPAN Forward’s [Japan Sports Notebook] here on Sundays, in [Odds and Evens] here during the week, and Twitter @ed_odeven.

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Ed Odeven is a longtime sports journalist who previously worked for The Japan Times as its chief basketball reporter for nearly 14 years. He also covered a wide range of other sports for the newspaper, including at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and 2012 London Games. A graduate of Arizona State University, Odeven worked for several newspapers in the Grand Canyon State before moving to Japan. He has freelanced for dozens of media outlets around the world.

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