Lucky Lilac Primed for Oaks


Lucky Lilac | Horsephotos

Lucky Lilac (Jpn) (Orfevre {Jpn}) may have tasted defeat for the first time in her career when runner-up to Almond Eye (Jpn) (Lord Kanaloa {Jpn}) in last month's G1 Oka Sho (Japanese 1000 Guineas), but the chestnut daughter of US Grade I winner Lilacs and Lace (Flower Alley) will take a fair amount of beating in their rematch in Sunday's G1 Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks) at Tokyo Racecourse.

The elegant chestnut ran the table in three appearances last season and topped off a championship run with a two-length defeat of Lily Noble (Jpn) (Rulership {Jpn}) in the G1 Hanshin Juvenile Fillies in early December. Lucky Lulac returned to best Mau Lea (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}) and Lily Noble in the Mar. 3 G3 Tulip Sho, but Almond Eye proved superior last time out, scoring by a handy 1 3/4 lengths in the Oka Sho. Having raced exclusively over the metric mile to date, Lucky Lilac will have to prove she can handle this extended trip, though her pedigree certainly says yes.

“[The distance] should not be a problem and revenge could well be hers,” said trainer Mikio Matsunaga, who won the 1991 Oaks as a jockey with Isono Roubles (Jpn) (Russian Roubles). “She has a big stride and I've always thought she was more suited to the longer distances.”

While Lucky Lilac's breeding suggests she will stay this 2400-metre journey, the same cannot quite be said for Almond Eye, whose sire was one of the most brilliantly fast horses anywhere in recent memory. The bay, who defeated a group of males in the G3 Shinzan Kinen in her seasonal debut Jan. 8, should get some stamina from her dam Fusaichi Pandora (Jpn) (Sunday Silence), who was only 11th in the 2006 Oka Sho before finishing a close second in this race. She was subsequently victorious in the QE II Commemorative Cup over 11 furlongs. The extended female family includes G1 Irish Derby hero El Gran Senor.

WATCH: Almond Eye defeats Lucky Lilac in the Oka Sho

Satono Walkure (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}), one of seven in the race for her all-conquering sire, has an allowance victory going 12 furlongs and used that Mar. 10 success as a springboard to a neck score over Pioneer Bio (Jpn) (Rulership {Jpn}) in this track's G2 Flora S. Apr. 22. She figures to lag back beneath Mirco Demuro and come with a run through the long Fuchu stretch.

Tosen Bless (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}) has rough place chances. Fourth in the Hanshin Juvenile Fillies, she missed narrowly to Cantabile (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}) in the G3 Flower Cup Mar. 17 and ran home solidly to be fourth in the Oka Sho last time. The dark bay is out of a daughter of G1 Japan Cup (when run over 2200m at Nakayama in 2002) hero Falbrav (Ire).


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