Ascoli Piceno Eyes Classic Ring In Oka Sho

Ascoli Piceno | Japanese Racing Association

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Three starts, three wins, and now, Japanese Champion 2-Year-Old Filly Ascoli Piceno (Jpn) (Daiwa Major {Jpn}) will attempt to add a Classic to her haul when she breaks from gate nine in the 18-horse G1 Oka Sho (Japanese 1000 Guineas) at Hanshin on Sunday.

Reuniting with Hiroshi Kitamura who she carried to G1 Hanshin Juvenile Fillies glory over this trip back in December, the near-black filly makes her 2024 bow in the first Classic of the Japanese season. Striking on a newcomers' affair in June and the G3 Niigata Nisai S. in August, the likely favourite and Sunday Racing colourbearer had Katsumi Yoshida's Stellenbosch (Jpn) (Epiphaneia {Jpn}) and Corazon Beat (Jpn) (Suave Richard {Jpn}) back in second and third in the Juvenile Fillies.

“Everything is on track,” trainer Yoichi Kuroiwa told NetKeiba.com after the filly's Friday gallop. “She went faster than I as expecting and it seemed so easy to do. Today was perfect. The weather is a bit worrying, but I've trained her in a way where she can adapt to heavy ground.”

Yuga Kawada will be aboard February's G3 Daily Hai Queen Cup victress Queen's Walk (Jpn) (Kizuna {Jpn}) from stall two, who also represents Sunday Racing. Lightly raced, the half-sister to G1 Asahi Hai Futurity S. hero Grenadier Guards (Jpn) (Frankel {GB}) and daughter of GI Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint victress Wavell Avenue (Harlington) has won her past two starts since running second at Kyoto when unveiled. She, too, turned in a strong gallop on Friday.

Said trainer Mitsumasa Nakauchida to NetKeiba.com, “She was happy to run and is moving smoothly. She ran over 1600 metres at Tokyo Racecourse without a problem so 1600 meters at Hanshin should not be a problem for her either. This will be a great race to prepare for the G1 Japanese Oaks.”

A winner of the G2 Keio Hai Nisai S. in November, Corazon Beat recovered from her third to Ascoli Piceno with a second in the G2 Hochi Hai Fillies' Revue over this strip going 1400 metres on Mar. 10, one better than Cecilie Plage (Jpn) (Bricks And Mortar). In front of her that day was Too Darn Hot (GB)'s Etes Vous Prets (Ire), one of two in the race for Godolphin besides Listed Anemone S. heroine Catfight (Jpn) (Discreet Cat).

Second to Light Back (Jpn) (Kizuna {Jpn}) in the Listed Elfin S. in February, Sweep Feet (Jpn) (Suave Richard {Jpn}) rebounded to add the G2 Tulip Sho locally going 1600 metres on Mar. 2 with Sekitoba East (Jpn) (Declaration Of War) and Hawaiian Tiare (Jpn) (Lord Kanaloa {Jpn}) filling the next two placings.

Sporting a similar two-for-three record as Queen's Walk, Ipheion (Jpn) (Epiphaneia {Jpn}) was last seen in action in January, when taking the G3 Fairy S. by a neck over Mask All Win (Jpn) (Drefong), while G3 Artemis S. heroine Cervinia (Jpn) (Harbinger {GB}) leaves from stall 18.

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