By Nicholas Godfrey
Hanshin: Hanshin Juvenile Fillies G1 ¥125m (£910,000) 1m, turf, 2yo fillies
Sodashi (Naosuke Sugai/Hayato Yoshida)
Japan: Sodashi, described locally as the nation’s ‘idol horse’, earned a slice of racing history on Sunday when she became the first white horse ever to win a G1 event in Japan with a nail-biting victory.
White horses are a rarity – that’s officially white, not very light grey, like most of them – anywhere in the world of racing, and Japan’s enthusiastic racing fans have taken the striking Sodashi to their hearts.
Sent off 11-5 favourite for the Hanshin Juvenile Fillies, the only G1 in Japan restricted to two-year-old fillies, the daughter of grey dirt star Kurofune just got home in a thrilling finish to extend her unbeaten record to four.
Sodashi is out of the popular spotted-white mare Buchiko, whose dam was another white mare in Shirayukihime, which translates as ‘Snow White’.
Sodashi’s official margin was a nose from second favourite Satona Reinas, with Uberleden just a neck back in third as they flashed across the line virtually in unison.
Winning jockey Hayato Yoshida, his second G1 JRA winner, admitted he had been feeling the pressure.
“Going into the race as favourite was a bit of a load but I’m thrilled with the outcome,” said the rider, who was winning only his second JRA G1 after the 2015 Arima Kinen on Gold Actor.
Hayayakko, another white horse from the Kurofune line, won a G3 in Niigata in August 2019.
Sodashi was reluctant to load and then raced in not far behind a moderate pace. Produced to challenge between horses a furlong out, Sodashi just held off the challengers.
“She hated to even go near the gate but I’m relieved that all went well and that we were able to be positioned just as I hoped,” said Yoshida. “The going affected her good turn of foot but she gave all she had. There is room for improvement, and I hope we can get her ready for next year’s Classics.”
• Visit the Japan Racing Association website