Japanese-bred Asahi Rising will try to follow in the footsteps of Cesario Sunday when she faces seven opponents in the $750,000 American Oaks Invitational (gr. I) for 3-year-old fillies on the Hollywood Park turf.
Cesario became the first Japanese-bred to win a grade I race in North America when she cruised to victory in the 2005 American Oaks.
"She shipped well, and everything was good with the work," trainer Masaaki Koga said of Asahi Rising after she swept past Dance in the Mood during a five-furlong breeze this week. "She's a very quiet horse. I hope this filly continues that (Cesario's) pattern of success."
She drew the rail and will be ridden by Victor Espinoza.
Asahi Rising, third in the Japanese Oaks (Jpn-I), faces stiff competition in the 1 1/4-mile Oaks, headed by Honeymoon Breeders' Cup (gr. IIT) winner Attima, unbeaten in two starts since coming to North America from Europe. She was not severely tested while dominating six rivals in the 1 1/8-mile Honeymoon on the same course.
Foxysox, trained by Carla Gaines and owned by Warren Williamson, won her first four starts of 2006 before finishing second to Attima in the Honeymoon.
Arravale, owned by Irish native Robert Costigan, is 3-for-3 on turf, most recently winning the Alywow Stakes at Woodbine.
Wait a While, from the powerful Todd Pletcher stable, won the Sands Point (gr. IIIT) in her most recent start. The Sands Point was moved to dirt due to rain, but she is won her only start on on turf. Four-for-nine overall, she was a 14-length winner of the Davona Dale (gr. II) at Gulfstream Park. Later in the year, she finished second in the Ashland (gr. I) and fourth in the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I). Garrett Gomez returns to Southern California for the mount.
Jim Cassidy, who sent Ticker Tape out to upset Dance in the Mood in the 2004 American Oaks, will saddle Honeymoon fourth-place finisher Galileo's Star and Bay Meadows Breeders' Cup Oaks winner Sol Mi Fa. Both are Irish-bred and were starting for the first time in North American.
Proxenia, a Great Britain-bred trained by Paddy Gallagher, broke her maiden in March and finished third in the Honeymoon. $750,000 American Oaks Invitational (gr. IT, Race 8, 3:50 p.m.), 3-Year-Old Fillies, 1 1/4 Miles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey
1. Asahi Rising (JPN), Victor Espinoza
2. Sol Mi Fa (IRE), Patrick A. Valenzuela
3. Arravale (KY), Corey S. Nakatani
4. Galileo's Star (IRE), Norberto Arroyo, Jr.
5. Attima (GB), David R. Flores
6. Foxysox (GB), Alex Bisono
7. Wait a While (KY), Garrett K. Gomez
8. Proxenia (GB), Alex O. SolisEach assigned 121 pounds.