By Nicholas Godfrey
Hanshin: Oka Sho (Japanese 1,000 Guineas) G1 ¥237.8m (£1.58m) 1m, turf, 3yo fillies
Sodashi (Naosuke Sugai/Hayato Yoshida)
To the delight of her masses of adoring fans, the great white wonder Sodashi added a Classic to her laurels when she broke the course record to win the Oka Sho (Japanese 1,000 Guineas) at Hanshin.
Described locally as an ‘idol horse’, the filly had earned a slice of racing history when she became the first all-white horse to win a G1 event in Japan in the Hanshin Juvenile Fillies in December.
Back at the same venue, Sodashi recorded another nail-biting victory as she held off the desperate late charge of favourite Satona Reinas to take her unbeaten record to five races.
Sent off 13-5 second favourite, Sodashi raced just behind the pace before hitting the front just over a furlong out, establishing clear water between herself and her 17 rivals in a typically big field for the first Japanese Classic of the season.
In effect, the popular daughter of dirt star Kurofune got first run – and while several horses charged down the outside, the winning post came just in time. There was only a neck, half-length and a neck separating the first four.
Sodashi’s winning time of 1m31.1s established a new track record for 1,600m at Hanshin.
“It’s a great feeling,” said jockey Hayato Yoshida. “Her potential is limitless and I look forward to her future starts.”
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.
“There was a lot of pressure with many doubting how strong a white filly could be so I’m thrilled we were able to prove them wrong,” Yoshida added.
“I was a bit worried that the fast track would be a disadvantage, but she responded beautifully and held off the others closing in on us – I saw them and it made me drive her to the wire.”
Also described as a ‘unicorn’, Sodashi is out of the popular spotted-white mare Buchiko, whose dam was another white mare in Shirayukihime, which translates as ‘Snow White’.
• More about Japanese racing at the JRA website