Odds-on favorite Victoire Pisa claimed the US$2.2 million Satsuki Sho (Jpn-I), Japan's equivalent of the Two Thousand Guineas, before 68,022 on a chilly spring day at Nakayama Racecourse April 18.
The first of Japan's Triple Crown Classics, the Satsuki Sho was won by 1 3/4 lengths by Victoire Pisa. The 3-year-old son of Neo Universe was ridden to victory by Yasunari Iwata in a time of 2:00.8 for the 2,000 meters (about 1 1/4 miles) over a turf course rated "good" a day after a surprise snowfall in the Kanto area.
The victory marked consecutive victories in the Satsuki Sho for Neo Universe, winner of the 2003 Japanese Derby (Jpn-I) and Satsuki Sho who sired last year's victor Unrivaled. Victoire Pisa is out of Whitewater Affair (by Machiavellian), who also produced the 2005 Yasuda Kinen (Jpn-I) champion, Asakusa Den’en.
Katsuhiko Sumii trains Victoire Pisa for owner Yoshimi Ichikawa. Shadai Farm bred the dark bay or brown colt.
Eighteen colts vied in the Satsuki Sho, with Birdie Birdie rushing out to take the lead and Victoire Pisa eased into the fourth spot early by Iwata, who also won the race last year. Victoire Pisa advanced along the rail on the backstretch and made the final bend mid-pack before Iwata steered him between horses to find an opening on the inside in the stretch.
Victoire Pisa sailed to the front 100 meters before the wire and drew away to earn is first grade I victory and fifth win a row overall. Victoire Pisa previously captured the Yayoi Sho (Jpn-II) this year.
Late closer Hiruno d'Amour charged from near the rear of the pack on the far outside to nose Eishin Flash for second, with Japan's juvenile champion of last year, Rose Kingdom, another nose back in fourth as the second choice. Aliseo, who had taken the lead 200 meters out as the third favorite, tired to fifth.
Eishin Apollon, an American-bred son of Giant's Causeway , finished 11th as the only entrant in the field not bred in Japan. The Satsuki Sho was opened to foreign-trained horses for the first time this year.