Stars on Earth Resumes In Osaka Hai

Stars on Earth | Tomoya Moriuchi


A good many of Japan's best middle-distance gallopers not named Equinox (Jpn) (Kitasan Black {Jpn}) are among a 16-strong field that was drawn Friday for the G1 Osaka Hai at Hanshin Racecourse. And while the reigning Horse of the Year and towering G1 Longines Dubai Sheema Classic winner is recovering from his trip to the Middle East, a few of those that have form through him from last season seem poised to do a fair bit of damage over the metric 10 furlongs Sunday afternoon.

Last year's champion 3-year-old filly Stars on Earth (Jpn) (Duramente {Jpn}) has yet to square off with Equinox, but will attract her fair share of support off a preparation that included victories in the G1 Oka Sho (Japanese 1000 Guineas) at the mile and the G1 Yushun Himba over 2400-metres before enduring a luckless passage in the G1 Shuka Sho in October, therefore missing out on the Filly Triple Crown. She has reportedly filled out during her time away, and Equinox's rider Christophe Lemaire is bullish on her chances this weekend.

“She's felt good in training, and I've been pleased with her responses and footwork,” the Frenchman said. “She's a lot bigger now, and as a 4-year-old more like an adult. I look forward to riding her this year.”




The fairer sex have won two of the three most recent renewals of the Osaka Hai, and the regally bred Geraldina (Jpn) (Maurice {Jpn}) is another who can add to the tally in her return to the races. A product of two horses of the year, the daughter of the outstanding Gentildonna (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}) belied odds of 7-1 to best subsequent G1 Longines Hong Kong Mile heroine Win Marilyn (Jpn) (Screen Hero {Jpn}) in this track's G1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup (2200m) in November and scarcely disgraced herself when a running-on third to Equinox in the G1 Arima Kinen (2500m) when last seen on Christmas Day.

“The distance of 2000 metres doesn't rush her into things, and hopefully she'll get into the flow of the race and run well,” said trainer Takashi Saito. “I'm looking forward to what she might be able to do this year.”

The flashy Jack d'Or (Jpn) (Maurice {Jpn}), fifth to Potager (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}) in this race last term, downed future G1 Saudi Cup hero Panthalassa (Jpn) (Lord Kanaloa {Jpn}) in the G2 Sapporo Kinen last August, then wasn't beaten far when fourth behind Equinox and Panthalassa in the G1 Tenno Sho (Autumn) last October. Down the field when well-bet in the G1 Longines Hong Kong Cup, he makes his seasonal debut here.

Hishi Iguazu (Jpn) (Heart's Cry {Jpn}) was fourth in this last April and made just one more appearance, a runner-up effort to the high-class Titleholder (Jpn) (Duramente {Jpn}) in the G1 Takarazuka Kinen in June. The lightly raced 7-year-old turned in the perfect prep for this when scoring by 3/4 of a length over the reopposing Lagulf (Jpn) (Maurice {Jpn}) in the G2 Nakayama Kinen (1800m) Feb. 26.

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