Almond Eye wins the Oka Sho

Almond Eye wins the Oka Sho

Masakazu Takahashi

Almond Eye, Lucky Lilac Meet Again in Japanese Oaks

Race set for May 20 at Tokyo Racecourse.

Daughters from the first crops of sires Orfevre and Lord Kanaloa are among the favorites for the May 20 Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks, G1) at Tokyo Racecourse.

Almond Eye, by 2013 Japanese Horse of the Year Lord Kanaloa, and Lucky Lilac, by 2011 Japanese Triple Crown winner Orfevre, earned their way into the Yushun Himba by finishing 1-2 in the Oka Sho (Japanese One Thousand Guineas, G1).

Almond Eye is out of the Sunday Silence mare Fusaichi Pandora, who finished second in the 2006 Yushun Himba. Almond Eye started her 3-year-old season with a victory in the Nikkan Sports Sho Shinzan Kinen (G3) at Kyoto before the Oka Sho score. Christophe Lemaire, who won last year's Oaks on the Frankel filly Soul Stirring, is booked to ride.

Lucky Lilac, produced by the Flower Alley mare Lilacs and Lace, won her first four starts before the narrow loss to Almond Eye in the Oka Sho. Lucky Lilac's trainer, Mikio Matsunaga, said the added distance of the 2,400-meter (about 1 1/2-mile) Yushun Himba, with the long, uphill Tokyo Racecourse stretch, should help his filly.

"She has a big stride," Matsunaga said, "and I've always thought she was more suited for the longer distances."

The newcomer sires have a bit of a hill to climb. Deep Impact, who has sired three Oaks winners, has seven nominees in the race. Prominent among them is Satono Walkure, winner of the Sankei Sports Sho Flora Stakes (G2) at Tokyo in her last start.

The Yushun Himba is run left-handed, starting in front of the massive grandstand and around two turns. The race offers a purse of US$2.17 million with US$1 million to the winner.