Marcellina used a strong closing kick to capture the $2.1 million Oka Sho (Jpn-I), the Japanese equivalent of the English One Thousand Guineas held at Hanshin Racecourse April 10.
It was the first grade I victory in the four-race career of Marcellina, a homebred racing for Shadai Farm. She was ridden to victory by Katsumi Ando for trainer Hiroyoshi Matsuda. The 3-year-old bay filly is by Deep Impact out of the Marju mare Marbye.
The Oka Sho is the first of five Japanese Racing Association classics held each year. The Oka Sho, together with the Yushun Himba (Jpn-I, Japanese Oaks, 2,400 meters) and the Shuka Sho (Jpn-I, 2,000 meters), is considered the national fillies’ version of the “Triple Crown.”
Sent off as the second choice, Marcellina completed the 1,600 meters (about one mile) in 1:33.9 over firm turf, defeating favored Whale Capture by three-quarters of a length. Trend Hunter, also trained by Matsuda, finished another three-quarters of a length behind in third.
Japan's 2010 champion 2-year-old filly Reve d'Essor (JPN, by Agnes Tachyon) did not compete in the Oka Sho due to a leg injury sustained in last month.
Marcellina was reserved in a ground-saving spot near the rear of the pack near Whale Capture as Forever Mark broke sharply and dictated the pace to the homestretch.
Whale Capture and Trend Hunter, also advancing from the rear, both took the final turn wide while Ando guided Marcellina through an opening at the center of the course and took aim at Forever Mark, still in front with a furlong to run. Marcellina charged on to get the lead with 100 meters left and held the fast-closing Whale Capture safe in the final strides.
Marcellina registered her third win in four starts.
In the aftermath of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, the JRA reported that Niigata Racecourse will hold race meetings starting from April 23.
All races at Fukushima and Nakayama racecourses, both affected by the earthquake, remain canceled.