'Almond' Bags Second Classic in Oaks

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Almond Eye | Horsephotos

Lord Kanaloa (Jpn) filly Almond Eye (Jpn) reaffirmed her class and staked her claims to the Japanese Triple Tiara on Sunday, with a win in the G1 Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks) going 2400 metres at Tokyo. Successful in the G1 Oka Sho (Japanese 1000 Guineas) last out at Hanshin, the Silk Racing colourbearer was bet down to 70 cents on the dollar and did not disappoint, winning by two lengths over the Sunday Racing duo of 11-1 shot Lily Noble (Jpn) (Rulership {Jpn}), with 2-year-old champion and second choice Lucky Lilac (Jpn) (Orfevre {Jpn}) another 1 3/4 lengths back in third. The trio are eligible for a start in ParisLongchamp's G1 Prix Vermeille over the Yushun Himba trip in France on Sept. 16, with their entry fees waived and a travel supplement available. They were also the first three home in the Oka Sho, with Lucky Lilac reversing positions with Lily Noble in that Apr. 8 Classic. Later this fall, the 2000-metre G1 Shuka Sho is the third leg of the tiara at Kyoto on Oct. 14.

Christophe Lemaire, who was celebrating his 39th birthday as Almond Eye became the 14th filly to snag the double, said, “I had every confidence in her and the race went perfectly for us. She was a little hyped up, but we had a good start and in established a good position. From there she settled well and her turn of foot in the home straight was terrific. The stretch in distance was absolutely no problem for her. She is one special filly with great potential and fit to face international competition if she has the chance.”

Sitting about three deep past the stands the first time in sixth, Almond Eye was relaxed under Lemaire, as Sayakachan (Jpn) (Reach the Crown {Jpn}) scampered well clear of her rivals. That foe's double-digit advantage held all the way until the third turn, as the remainder began to engage and by 400 metres out, Sayakachan was weakening to the onrushing Lily Noble and Almond Eye on the outside. The latter was always going best of all in the final strides and safely held the runner-up by a comfortable margin. Lucky Lilac closed determinedly with a furlong remaining, but could not catch the top two.

The only blip on her otherwise flawless resume was a runner-up performance at first asking at Niigata in August, and the bay quickly put things to right in a Tokyo 2-year-old maiden going a mile in October. A first group victory went her way in the G3 Nikkan Sports Sho Shinzan Kinen at Kyoto in her 3-year-old bow on Jan. 8, before her Guineas win.

Pedigree Notes…

Previously the first Group 1 victress for her sire in the Japanese 1000 Guineas, Almond Eye is the best foal and the sixth winner of six foals to race out of the Japanese MSW and G1 Queen Elizabeth II Commemorative Cup bridesmaid Fusaichi Pandora (Jpn). After the Yushun Himba victress, Fusaichi Pandora, who counts the blue hen Sex Appeal (Buckpasser) as her second dam, has a yearling colt by Rulership (Jpn). Champions and full-brothers El Gran Senor (Northern Dancer) and Try My Best (Northern Dancer) were also produced by the unraced half-sister to fellow champion Malinowski (Sir Ivor) and GI Kentucky Oaks heroine Blush With Pride (Blushing Groom {Fr}). (Click here to read an Alan Carasso feature on Lord Kanaloa {Jpn})  Click for the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree.

Sunday, Tokyo, Japan
YUSHUN HIMBA (JAPANESE OAKS)-G1, ¥249,230,000 (US$224,958/£167,055/€191,044), Tokyo, 5-20, 3yo, f, 2400mT, 2:23.80, fm.
1–ALMOND EYE (JPN), 121, f, 3, by Lord Kanaloa (Jpn)
                1st Dam: Fusaichi Pandora (Jpn) (MSW & G1SP-Jpn,
                                $3,264,457), by Sunday Silence
                2nd Dam: Lotta Lace, by Nureyev
                3rd Dam: Sex Appeal, by Buckpasser
O-Silk Racing; B-Northern Farm (Jpn); T-Sakae Kunieda;
J-Christophe Lemaire; ¥137,461,000. Lifetime Record: 5-4-1-0.
Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree. Werk Nick
   Rating: A+++. *Triple Plus*.
2–Lily Noble (Jpn), 121, f, 3, by Rulership (Jpn)
                1st Dam: Pure Chaplet (Jpn), by Kurofune
                2nd Dam: Baptista (Jpn), by Sunday Silence
                3rd Dam: Bebop (Jpn), by Amber Shadai (Jpn)
O-Sunday Racing; B-Northern Farm (Jpn); ¥51,846,000.
3–Lucky Lilac (Jpn), 121, f, 3, by Orfevre (Jpn)
                1st Dam: Lilacs and Lace, by Flower Alley
                2nd Dam: Refinement, by Seattle Slew
                3rd Dam: Stella Madrid, by Alydar
O-Sunday Racing; B-Northern Farm (Jpn); ¥31,923,000.
Margins: 2, 1 3/4, 1 3/4; Odds: 0.70, 11.30, 3.10.
Also Ran: Red Sakuya (Jpn), Mau Lea (Jpn), Satono Walkure (Jpn), Pioneer Bio (Jpn), Usubenino Kimi (Jpn), All for Love (Jpn), Rosa Glauca (Jpn), Randonnee, Sister Flag (Jpn), Cantabile (Jpn), Toho Artemis (Jpn), Win Lanakila (Jpn), Sayakachan (Jpn), Ohana (Jpn). Scratched: Tosen Bless (Jpn).
Click for the Racing Post chart. JRA Video.

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