The Hanshin Juvenile Fillies (Jpn-I) drew a full field of 18 headed by stakes winners Collector Item and Sound Rihanna, who will meet in Japan’s championship race for the division Dec. 9.
The 1,600-meter (one-mile) event, which often provides a tantalizing glimpse of future stars, offers a purse of 125,180,000 yen (approximately $1,520,446). The win roster includes such standouts as Apapane (2009), who won the 2010 Filly Triple Crown; Buena Vista (2008), Horse of the Year in 2010; and Vodka (2006), who holds the stakes record of 1:33.10 and went on to be Horse of the Year in 2008 and 2009.
G1 Racing Co.’s Collector Item has won two of three starts and comes into the race off a stakes-record performance in the 1,600-meter Artemis Stakes Nov. 3 at Tokyo Racecourse. The Heart’s Cry filly withstood a relentless challenge down the stretch from Ayusan and won by a half-length in 1:33.80. Prior to that, she finished a creditable fourth against males in the Daily Hai Nisai (Jpn-II) Oct. 6 at Kyoto following her debut win at Hanshin Sept. 15.
Trainer Naosuke Sugai said Collector Item had the fastest finishing time in the Daily Hai Nisai and that, coupled with her record-setting win in the Artemis, reveals much about her potential.
“She's been training well since (the Artemis), maintaining—if not improving—her form,” Sugai said. “Her time in the workout last week wasn't particularly fast because the course was so poor, but her movement wasn't bad at all. We'll just have to see what the going is like on the day of the race.
“She's got a lot of room for growth. The weight she's added is all muscle. I'm looking forward to seeing how she does this time on a wide, spacious course at the mile again."
Yuichi Masuda’s Sound Rihanna has two wins and a third from four starts and stretches back out to 1,600 meters after romping to a strong-finishing three-length victory in the KBS Kyoto Sho Fantasy Stakes (Jpn-III) at 1,400 meters (seven furlongs) Nov. 10.
“We've been taking good care of her since then and she hasn't shown any signs of fatigue,” trainer Masato Sato said of the filly by former Central Kentucky sire Came Home. “She was extremely sharp when she worked out last week, and we couldn't ask more of her at this point in time.”
Following her close runner-up finish to Collector Item in the Artemis, Juichi Hoshino’s Ayusan returns to bid for a breakthrough stakes victory. Prior to that race, the Deep Impact filly captured her debut Oct. 6 at Tokyo.