Gentildonna Romps in Tokyo's Japanese Oaks

Gentildonna Romps in Tokyo's Japanese Oaks
Photo: Naoji Inada
Gentildonna wins the Yushun Himba Japanese Oaks.

Gentildonna romped to victory in the Yushun Himba (Jpn-I), or Japanese Oaks, in race-record time at Tokyo Racecourse May 20, giving the 3-year-old the first two jewels of the nation's Triple Crown for fillies.

The daughter of Deep Impact won the Oka Sho (Jpn-I), or Japanese One Thousand Guineas, at Hanshin Racecourse April 8. Gentildonna will attempt to become the fourth filly in Japanese racing to sweep the Triple Crown in the Shuka Sho (Jpn-I) at 2,000 meters in October. The last to complete the sweep was Apapane in 2010.

Jockey Yuga Kawada replaced regular rider Yasunari Iwata, who is facing suspension, on Gentildonna, who completed the 2,400-meter (about 12 furlongs) event in 2:23.6 on firm turf. That shaved 1.7 seconds off the previous stakes mark (2:25.3) established by American-bred Robe Decollete in 2007.

Before a reported crowd of 63,304, Gentildonna was sent off as the third pick in the field of 18 at odds of about 11-2. She defeated second choice Verxina by five lengths. Verxina was also second in the earlier Oka Sho. Favorite Midsummer Fair, a grade II winner in her most recent start for owner Sheikh Mohammed, finished 13th after racing wide.

Sei Ishizaka trains Gentildonna, his first classic winner, for Katsumi Yoshida’s Sunday Racing Co. She was purchased at the 2006 Tattersalls December Mare Sale for 500,000 guineas.

Bred in Japan by Northern Racing, Gentildonna is out of the Bertolini mare Donna Blini. She is the second foal out of Donna Blini, following group III winner Donau Blue.

Gentildonna, who now has three graded victories in her career, became the 13th to capture the first two legs of Japan's filly series.

Kawada, who rode the winner for the first time, kept Gentildonna reserved near the rear of the field as the fillies traveled down the backstretch. Meine Epona set the pace and held her advantage while the rest bunched up behind her as they made the final turn for home.

As the leaders gave way, Verxina, late in making her bid, was fighting with I'm Yours for the lead as Ice Follies threaded her way into contention with 300 meters to run.

Gentildonna rallied strongly down the stretch, however, and picked off I’m Yours, Verxina, and Ice Follies by the furlong pole. She quickly drew off for an impressive victory. Verxina finished three-quarters of a length in front of Ice Follies, who nosed out I’m Yours for third.

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