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Yasuda Kinen Preview: Songline Chasing Back-to-Back Victories in the Race

Vodka was the last horse to win the Yasuda Kinen in consecutive years, doing so in 2008 and 2009. Songline is coming off a victory in the G1 Victoria Mile.

The Yasuda Kinen rounds out five straight weeks of Grade 1 action on Sunday, June 4 as the main race at the Fuchu course. 

This mile race is for 3-year-olds and up. And the Yasuda Kinen brings the curtain down for a while on some exciting racing, including the G1 Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks) and Sunday, May 28's Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby).

The Grade 1 Yasuda Kinen was first run in 1951 and gets its name from the first JRA president, Izaemon Yasuda, who died in 1958. It became a Grade 1 race in 1984 and was given international Grade 1 status in 1993. Overseas winners have been Heart Lake (1995), Fairy King Prawn (2000) and Bullish Luck (2006). There will be no challengers from abroad this year.

This year's race has had 21 nominations, including Sodashi and Songline, with both horses having battled things out together just recently in the Grade 1 Victoria Mile. Weights for the race are set at 58 kg for 4-year-olds and up, while 3-year-olds carry 54 kg, a healthy weight advantage. Fillies and mares get to claim a 2-kg allowance.

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Yasuda Kinen History in Recent Years

In the past 10 years, just three first favorites have won, while 4-year-olds have been the dominant age group with five wins in the same time span. Record time for the race was set in 2019 when Indy Champ won in a time of 1 minute, 30.9 seconds.

This year's winner's check is ¥180 million JPY (around $1.3 million USD), and there's an automatic entry for the winner to the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Mile later this year if connections decide to take up the offer.

A couple of races leading up to this Sunday's race have been the Grade 2 Yomiuri Milers Cup, run at Kyoto in April, and the recent Grade 1 Victoria Mile, run just three weeks ago over the course and distance of this week's race. 

The Grade 1 Yasuda Kinen is Race 11 on the Sunday card at Tokyo Racecourse with a post time of 3:40 PM.

Here's a look at some of the runners taking on the 73rd running of the race.

Yasuda Kinen
Sodashi (white) exercises on May 24 at the JRA Ritto Training Center in Ritto, Shiga Prefecture. (ⒸSANKEI)

Sodashi Returns to the Spotlight

The fans' favorite was desperately unlucky to come out second best in the Grade 1 Victoria Mile on May 14. A mile is her best distance, and the roof would come off the grandstand this time if she could manage to win. 

"Now she's older, things are smoother with her, especially loading at the gate and when she's in the gate," trainer Naosuke Sugai said. "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." 

Yuga Kawada will ride Sodashi as the 5-year-old mare looks for her fourth JRA Grade 1 win and her first in the Yasuda Kinen.

Victoria Mile
Songline earns a narrow victory over Sodashi in the 18th Victoria Mile on May 14 at Tokyo Racecourse. (KYODO)

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Trainer Says Songline is in 'Great Condition' 

Renewing her rivalry with Sodashi again, Songline is looking to win the race for the second consecutive year, something which has just been achieved three times before in the history of the race (Vodka was the last to do it in 2008 and 2009). 

Trainer Toru Hayashi is upbeat on her chances of another win.

"She's come back from the farm in great condition," Hayashi said. "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."

Yasuda Kinen
Serifos goes for a stroll in Ritto, Shiga Prefecture, on June 1. (ⒸSANKEI)

Serifos to Make Second Start of 2023

A 4-year-old sired by Daiwa Major, Serifos traveled to Dubai earlier this year, where he finished fifth in the Grade 1 Dubai Turf. This will just be his second start of the year, but he won last year's Grade 1 Mile Championship in good style and the mile seems to be his perfect distance. 

"After Dubai and his quarantine period at Miki Horseland Park, he then went to Champion Hills farm before returning to the stable on May 9," assistant trainer Yuya Katayama said. "He seems in good shape after his overseas trip. So to get him ready this time there shouldn't be any problems, [and] he's nice and relaxed too." 

Damian Lane will ride Serifos, as he has done in the horse's last two starts.

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


Author: JRA News


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