Japanese Star Almond Eye Earns Breeders’ Cup Berth With Victoria Mile Win

Almond Eye, Japanese Horse of the Year in 2018, returned to the races in fine style as a 5-year-old on Sunday at Tokyo Race Course, winning the Grade 1 Victoria Mile by four lengths under Christophe Lemaire and securing a spot in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf at Keeneland in November.

Making her first start of 2020 after traveling to the United Arab Emirates for an intended defense of her 2019 win in the G1 Dubai Turf on the ultimately scrubbed Dubai World Cup program on March 28, Almond Eye was prominent early, swung to the outside at the top of the stretch and drew off convincingly under a hand ride. The daughter of Lord Kanaloa (Japanese champion sprinter/miler by King Kamehameha, a son of Kingmambo) stopped the timer in 1:30.6 for 1,600 meters (approximately one mile) on firm turf, just one-tenth of a second slower than the course record.

Sound Chiara finished second with Normcore, the 2019 Victoria Mile winner, finishing third in the field of 16 older fillies and mares. The Victoria Mile, which besides being a newly minted Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series race, gives the top three finishers a starting berth and travel expenses for France’s G1 Prix Jacques le Marois.

The Victoria Mile is one of only two Grade 1 races in Japan restricted to older fillies and mares.

Almond Eye, who won the Japanese filly Triple Crown in 2018 along with the G1 Japan Cup against males, has won nine of 12 career races, including a Japanese record-tying seven in G1 competition. Other Japanese runners to win seven G1 races are Symboli Rudolf, T.M. Opera O., Deep Impact, Vodka, Gentildonna and Kitasan Black.

She is trained by Sakae Kunieda, who was winning his 17th career G1.

“I think she’s matured well, as she was relaxed from the paddock to the start of the race,” said Lemaire after his 30th career JRA G1. “I was able to position her in to good position behind Sound Chiara and race her in her own rhythm without getting any pressure from the outside. She felt good during the race and displayed her powerful strides at the end. She’s a legend horse and will sure win more G1 races going forward.”

Almond Eye is owned by Silk Racing. Out of Fusaichi Pandora, a G1-winning mare by Sunday Silence, Almond Eye was bred by Katsumi Yoshida’s Northern Racing. She comes from an outstanding female family, counting as her third dam Sex Appeal, who produced European champions El Gran Senor and Try My Best. Sex Appeal’s dam, Best in Show, was Kentucky Broodmare of the Year in 1982, producing G1 Kentucky Oaks winner Blush With Pride. The latter is also an important name in Thoroughbred pedigrees as dam of Better Than Honour, 2007 Kentucky Broodmare of the Year and dam of two G1 Belmont winners, Jazil and Rags to Riches.

The Victoria Mile offered a $2.1 million purse. The races were run with no spectators on-site because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Wagering via computer and telephone account on the Japan Racing Association’s 12 races at Tokyo Race Course Sunday totaled $232,244,700.

The post Japanese Star Almond Eye Earns Breeders’ Cup Berth With Victoria Mile Win appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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