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Satsuki Sho Preview: It's Time for the Japanese Triple Crown Races to Commence

The Satsuki Sho kicks off 2024's Japanese Triple Crown races, with Regaleira aiming to become the race's first filly winner in 76 years.

It is the colts' turn this week, when Nakayama Racecourse, in Funabashi, Chiba Prefecture near Tokyo, will be the venue for the Grade 1 Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas) on Sunday, April 14.

Run over 2,000 meters on the inner turf course at the track, the race is the first leg of the Japanese Triple Crown, and invariably gives some insight into what to expect from the second leg of the series, the Grade 1 Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby), to be run in May. A total of 24 winners of the first colts' Classic have gone on to win the Derby.

First run in 1939 at Yokohama Racecourse, what was to become the Grade 1 Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas) was transferred to Tokyo four years later, the year it also got its current name. Nakayama started to host the race in 1949, and in 1950 the distance was changed to what it is now, 2,000 meters. It was previously 1,850 meters.

The Rundown on the 84th Satsuki Sho

The Grade 1 Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas) is for 3-year-old colts, and this year sees 20 nominations for a maximum field size of 18. No geldings are permitted, but occasionally fillies take on the race, and that's the case this year, with Regaleira, trying to overcome the colts. She will carry 55 kg, whereas the rest of the runners will have the set jockey weight for colts, which is 57 kg. A filly hasn't won the race since 1948.

Races leading up to this week's feature race have included the Grade 2 Hochi Hai Yayoi Sho (Deep Impact Kinen), run over 2,000 meters at Nakayama in March, and the Grade 2 Fuji TV Sho Spring Stakes, also run at Nakayama in March, but over 1,800 meters, with both of those being official trial races for this Sunday's race.

Facts and Figures on the Satsuki Sho

During the last 10 years, just two first favorites have won the Grade 1 Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas), with Contrail being the last one to win in 2020.

Horses trained in the east of Japan at the Miho Training Center in Ibaraki Prefecture have won six times in that same time period. 

Record time for Satsuki Sho was set by Al Ain in 2017, when he completed the race in a time of 1 minute, 57.8 seconds. This year's winner's check is ¥200 million JPY (approximately $1.3 million USD).

The 84th running of the Grade 1 Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas) will be Race 11 on the Sunday card at Nakayama, with a post time in Japan of 3:40 PM. The final declarations and the barrier draw will be available later in the week.

Here's an early look at some of the top 3-year-olds expected to be in the lineup.

Hopeful Stakes
Regaleira, piloted by Christophe Lemaire, triumphs in the 40th Hopeful Stakes on December 28, 2023, at Nakayama Racecourse in Funabashi, Chiba Prefecture. (ⒸSANKEI)

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Regaleira to Make Debut as a 3-Year-Old

The Suave Richard-sired filly produced a great turn of foot to win the Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes on December 28, 2023 at Nakayama. On Sunday, she will race for the first time as a 3-year-old. With Regaliera's weight being just above 450 kg last year, she will likely be one of the smallest horses in the race this week, but she has shown that she packs a punch all the same. 

Assistant trainer Yuya Tsuchida said: "She wasn't particularly switched on for the Ivy Stakes last year. But in the Hopeful Stakes she put in a strong performance. She didn't start very well in that race, but her closing finish was exceptional. They've taken good care of her at the farm, and she's returned to the stable in good shape."

Satsuki Sho
Shin Emperor exercises at the JRA Ritto Training Center in Ritto, Shiga Prefecture, on April 10. (©SANKEI)

Shin Emperor Brings Impressive Credentials into This Race

The French-bred Shin Emperor is a full brother to the 2020 Grade 1 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe winner Sottsass, and he has looked quite impressive in his four career races (two wins, two runner-up finishes) so far. He is coming off a second-place finish in the Grade 2 Hochi Hai Yayoi Sho (Deep Impact Kinen) in March, his only run as a 3-year-old.

Assistant trainer Yusaku Oka commented: "He got bumped at the first corner last time, and then had to race on the inside where the ground wasn't so good. Consequently, he didn't run on so well from the fourth corner.

Oka added, "On his pedigree, softer ground shouldn't be a worry, although the ground could be bad for the Satsuki Sho, which is the last week of racing at Nakayama, and I worry a little about that. After his break at the farm, he's returned to the stable and looks a little loose. But there's still time for him to get better before this next race."

Read the rest of this article about the Satsuki Sho as well as the Japanese horses in contention on JRA News.

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Author: JRA News

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