Almond Eye Blitzes to Victoria Mile Win

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Almond Eye with Christophe Lemaire in the irons | Horsephotos/JRA photo

Japanese Horse of the Year Almond Eye (Jpn) (Lord Kanaloa {Jpn}) made it seven Group 1 wins, after a tour-de-force in Sunday's G1 Victoria Mile at Tokyo. Now a “Win and You're In” for the GI Maker's Mark Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf, the Victoria Mile was the second time the bay has won at the top level going 1600 metres since her win in the 2018 G1 Oka Sho (Japanese 1000 Guineas). It was four lengths back to Sound Chiara (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}), who was a neck to the good of Normcore (Jpn) (Harbinger {GB}). The Silk Racing colourbearer completed the metric mile in 1:30.60, only 0.1 off the track record set by Normcore in 2019. She is now tied at seven Group 1 wins with Symboli Rudolf (Jpn) (Partholon {Ire}), T.M. Opera O (Jpn) (Opera House {GB}), Deep Impact (Jpn) (Sunday Silence), Vodka (Jpn) (Tanino Gimlet {Jpn}), Gentildonna (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}), and Kitasan Black (Jpn) (Black Tide {Jpn}).

Securing a spot in midfield as Trois Etoiles (Jpn) (Lord Kanaloa {Jpn}) shot out to an open-length lead, the 2-5 chalk remained handily placed one off the fence for regular rider Christophe Soumillon. The first half-mile went in a sharp :45.6, with six furlongs in 1:07.9 as the pacesetter started to come back to the field. Meanwhile, Lemaire hadn't so much as twitched aboard the heavy favourite, who glided up to fourth entirely under her own power as the field straightened. Given the barest of nudges by Lemaire, the blinkered champ drew up to Trois Etoiles and briefly switched to her wrong lead, but soon righted the ship before powering away in a dominating performance.

“I think she's matured well, as she was relaxed from the paddock to the start of the race,” said jockey Christophe Lemaire, who won his 30th Japanese Group 1. “I was able to position her in 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 legendary horse and will surely win more Group 1 races going forward.”

A winner at second asking over track and trip in October of 2017, the 2018 Japanese Champion 3-Year-Old Filly rattled off a skein of six more consecutive victories: the G3 Nikkan Sports Sho in her first sophomore start, the Oka Sho, G1 Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks), G1 Shuka Sho-completing the Japanese Fillies Triple Tiara, the G1 Japan Cup and Meydan's G1 Dubai Turf in Dubai in her first start since being named Horse of the Year. A surprising third in the G1 Yasuda Kinen last June saw Almond Eye shelved until an Oct. 27 score in the G1 Tenno Sho (Autumn). She ended 2019 with an uncharacteristic ninth in the G1 Arima Kinen and shipped to Dubai to defend her Dubai Turf title, only to return to Japan after the Dubai World Cup night card was cancelled due to the coronavirus.

Pedigree Notes

One of 18 black-type winners (12 at the group level) for her sire, Almond Eye is also part of Lord Kanaloa's Group 1 quartet completed by Saturnalia (Jpn), Stelvio (Jpn) and Tagaloa (Aus). Fusaichi Pandora's seventh foal and sixth winner from six to race, Almond Eye is followed by winning Johannesburg 4-year-old filly Unakite, third in the Listed Anemone S., as well as by the year-younger placed colt Satono Esperanza (Jpn) (Rulership {Jpn}).

Runner-up in the G1 Queen Elizabeth II Commemorative Cup, Fusaichi Pandora is out of the unraced Lotta Lace (Nureyev), herself a half-sister to English/Irish highweighted juvenile colts and successful sires El Gran Senor (Northern dancer) and Try My Best (Northern Dancer). The former won the G1 2000 Guineas/G1 Irish Derby/G1 Dewhurst S. and ran second in the G1 Epsom Derby, while Try My Best secured the G1 Dewhurst S. This is also the extended family of Group 1 winners Bahamian Pirate (Housebuster), Estrela Monarchos (Monarchos), Domedriver (Ire) (Indian Ridge {Ire}), and Chinchon (Ire) (Marju {Ire}) et al. Almond Eye's third dam, Sex Appeal (Buckpasser), is a half-sister to the fellow bluehen Blush With Pride (Blushing Groom {Fr}).

Sunday, Tokyo, Japan
VICTORIA MILE-G1, ¥204,960,000 (US$1,914,345/£1,581,320/€1,769,014), Tokyo, 5-17, 4yo/up, f, 1600mT, 1:30.60, fm.
1–ALMOND EYE (JPN), 121, m, 5, 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; ¥108,822,000. Lifetime Record: HotY-
Jpn, Ch. 3yo Filly-Jpn, Filly Triple Crown-Jpn, Hwt. Older Horse-
UAE, MG1SW-Jpn, G1SW-UAE, 12-9-1-1. *1/2 to Unakite (Jpn)
(Johannesburg), SP-Jpn, $290,564. Werk Nick Rating: A+++.
   *Triple Plus*. Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
2–Sound Chiara (Jpn), 121, m, 5, Deep Impact (Jpn)–Sound
Barrier (Jpn), by Agnes Digital. O-Yuichi Masuda; B-Shadai
Farm (Jpn); ¥43,092,000.
3–Normcore (Jpn), 121, m, 5, Harbinger (GB)–Chronologist
(Jpn), by Kurofune. (¥22,000,000 Ylg '16 JRHAJUL). O-Seiichi
Iketani; B-Northern Farm (Jpn); ¥26,546,000.
Margins: 4, NK, HF. Odds: 0.40, 11.90, 16.40.
Also Ran: Trois Etoiles (Jpn), Danon Fantasy (Jpn), Shigeru Pink Dia (Jpn), Loves Only You (Jpn), Primo Scene (Jpn), Beach Samba (Jpn), Shadow Diva (Jpn), Arusha (Jpn), Tosen Bless (Jpn), Satono Garnet (Jpn), Contra Check (Jpn), Scarlet Color (Jpn), Megere Su (Jpn). Scratch: Dimension (Jpn), Therapeia (Jpn).
Click for the JRA chart & video or the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree.

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