Al Ain was kept close to the favorite, filly Fan Dii Na, and prevailed by a neck in the Satsuki Sho

Al Ain was kept close to the favorite, filly Fan Dii Na, and prevailed by a neck in the Satsuki Sho

Naoji Inada

Al Ain Takes First Leg of Japan's Triple Crown

Favored filly Fan Dii Na fades to seventh in classic attempt.

Much of Japan anticipated this year’s Satsuki Sho (Japanese Two Thousand Guineas, G1) April 16, with Fan Dii Na, an undefeated daughter of Deep Impact, attempting to become the first filly to win the first leg of their 3-year-old Triple Crown since Hide Hikari in 1948.

However, sent off as the favorite, Fan Dii Na was unable to maintain the lead she briefly gained exiting the turn for home. In the final strides it was Al Ain who prevailed by a neck over Persian Knight in the 2,000-meter (almost 1 1/4-mile) event at Nakayama Racecourse.

With an even start, Al Ain raced just off the pace next to Fan Dii Na in fourth and fifth place throughout, and only began his move after the filly geared up at the top of the final turn. While she went four wide to find the lead, the son of Deep Impact stayed close to her and was able to move past as she faded to finish seventh in the field of 18.

Danburite got up to finish third. Final time for the distance was race record 1:57.8.

Trained by Yasutoshi Ikee for Sunday Racing Co., Al Ain has only one loss from five starts, including a win one start back in the Mainichi Hai (G3) March 25.

The colt, bred by Northern Farm in Japan, is out of the Essence of Dubai mare Dubai Majesty, winner of the 2010 Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint (G1) and the 2010 champion female sprinter.

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