Japan Gets Classic Sho On The Road

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Epiphaneia looks set to have his first Classic runner on Sunday | Emma Berry

While the European Classics look likely to suffer some reshuffling, Japanese racing is continuing behind closed doors and the country is set to stage its first Classic on Sunday, the G1 Oka Sho (1000 Guineas).

Final declarations for the Hanshin contest will be made on Thursday, but the 18 likely runners at this stage include no fewer than six daughters of Deep Impact (Jpn), who died last August. At this early stage of the year, it is no surprise to see the late Shadai resident out in front on the Japanese sires' table–equally it will be no surprise to see him there at the end of the season, either. He has already been responsible for 11 group stakes winners in 2020, including Miyamazakura (Jpn), Smile Kana (Jpn) and Sanctuaire (Jpn), all of whom are likely starters for the Oka Sho.

Heart's Cry (Jpn), runner-up to Deep Impact in last year's sires' table, has three fillies in the reckoning for Classic Glory– Woman's Heart (Jpn), Cravache d'Or (Jpn) and Chain of Love (Jpn)–while another of Japan's leading sires, Lord Kanaloa (Jpn), looks set to be represented by Yamakatsu Mermaid (Jpn).

However, two stallions have a chance of their names being etched in the Classic roll of honour for the first time this weekend. Japan's champion first-season sire of 2019, Deep Impact's son Kizuna (Jpn), is the sire of Fiori Chiari (Jpn) and Maltese Diosa (Jpn). The latter, winner of the G2 Tulip Sho on Mar. 7, is current co-third favourite and has been beaten just once in her four starts, when runner-up to Resistencia (Jpn) (Daiwa Major {Jpn}), in the GI Hanshin Juvenile Fillies over course and distance in December. Resistencia has not raced since then and heads to Sunday's contest as likely favourite.

Just behind her in the market is Daring Tact (Jpn), a first-crop daughter of Epiphaneia (Jpn) who is unbeaten in two starts including the Listed Elphin S. at Kyoto in early February. Epiphaneia, a son of Symboli Kris S., was responsible for the highest number of winners among Japan's freshman sires last season.

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