‘Eye’ On The Victoria Mile

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Almond Eye | Horsephotos

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The focus turns to older fillies and mares for Sunday’s G1 Victoria Mile at Tokyo Racecourse, and six-time Group 1 winner Almond Eye (Jpn) (Lord Kanaloa {Jpn}) looks to make her 2020 return a triumphant one in this Breeders’ Cup Challenge series qualifier for the GI Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf. Winner of the 2018 G1 Japan Cup, the Sakae Kunieda trainee added a win in the 2019 G1 Dubai Turf at Meydan before finishing a close-up third in Tokyo’s G1 Yasuda Kinen. Back on top in the 2,000-meter G1 Tenno Sho last October, she faltered in her seasonal finale, finishing ninth in the G1 Arima Kinen at Nakayama. Targeting a defense of the Dubai Turf in March, she was forced to miss the race after the event’s cancellation due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“After her unfortunate result last year in the Arima Kinen, she still traveled to Dubai, but because of the cancellation there, she returned to Japan and saw out the quarantine, before going to Northern Farm Tenei,” explained Kunieda. “She came back to the stable on Apr. 30, and not having had a recent race, she’s fresh and is in good condition.”

Also making her seasonal debut Sunday, Loves Only You (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}), a two-time winner at Kyoto at two, added a listed win over 2,000 meters at Hanshin last spring before breaking through at the highest level in the 2,400-meter G1 Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks). Given ample support in her latest, she finished third–beaten 1 ½ lengths–in the G1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup at Kyoto Nov. 10. Mirco Demuro, aboard for her three prior starts, reunites with the ¥172,800,000 (approx. $1.6 million) JRA Select Sale purchase.

Assistant trainer Shigeki Miyauchi commented: “She came back to the stable on Apr. 29, and the next day she worked under jockey Ryusei Sakai. The horse looks very strong and I think she can be effective over a mile.”

Normcore (Jpn) (Harbinger {GB}) returns in an attempt to defend her title Sunday. After adding a win over this course and distance on the G3 Fuji S. last October, she finished fourth in the G1 Longines Hong Kong Mile at Sha Tin before fading to 15th in the G1 Takamatsunomiya Kinen over 1,200 meters Mar. 29.

“The Takamatsunomiya Kinen was her first race since Hong Kong, and although her closing time was not so bad, I didn’t think she’d run like she did over 1,200 meters,” explained trainer Kiyoshi Hagiwara.

While never having finished in the top three in Group 1 company, Sound Chiara (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}) has won her last three starts–the G3 Kyoto Kimpai Jan. 5, G3 Kyoto Himba S. Feb. 22 and the Hanshin Himba S. Apr. 11.

“She’s been at the stable since her win in the Hanshin Himba S., and she’s relaxed and has come out of that race well,” said trainer Akio Adachi. “She’s been able to put in good performances in her races and that’s a real plus.”

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