Jockey Christophe Lemair waves to the crowd after Almond Eye won the Yushun Himba at Tokyo Racecourse

Jockey Christophe Lemair waves to the crowd after Almond Eye won the Yushun Himba at Tokyo Racecourse

Masakazu Takahashi

Almond Eye Takes Second Leg of Japan's Triple Tiara

Daughter of Lord Kanaloa won Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks, G1) by two lengths.

Almond Eye swept to a convincing, two-length victory in the Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks, G1) May 20 at Tokyo Racecourse as second-crop sires Lord Kanaloa and Orfevre were represented by two of the first three placings.

Almond Eye, a daughter of Lord Kanaloa out of the Sunday Silence mare Fusaichi Pandora, repeated her impressive performance of the April 8 Oka Sho (G1) and now eyes a sweep of the fillies' Triple Tiara, which concludes with the Oct. 14 Shuka Sho (G1) at Kyoto.

As the gates opened for the Yushun Himba, longshot Sayakachan sprinted to the lead and held a big advantage around the first turn and down the long backstretch. Jockey Christophe Lemaire kept Almond Eye forwardly placed in the trailing pack and outside of any trouble, but he did not ask the filly for run until she turned for home.

At that point, Almond Eye quickly joined the leaders, cleared them, and went on to win over Lily Noble. Lucky Lilac, from the first crop of Orfevre, was third. Six of the 17 fillies who ran were sired by Deep Impact and they accounted for the fourth, fifth, sixth, ninth, 13th and 17th placings.

Almond Eye finished the 2,400 meters (about 1 1/2 miles) in 2:23.80, just 0.2 seconds off the stakes record established by Gentildonna in 2012.

"I had every confidence in her, and (the) race went perfectly for us," said Lemaire, who celebrated both his second straight Yushun Himba win and his 39th birthday. "She was a little hyped up, but we had a good start and in a good position. From there, she settled in well, and her turn of foot in the home straight was terrific."

Lemaire said Almond Eye's first time going 2,400 meters "was absolutely no problem for her. She is one special filly with great potential and fit to face international competition if she has the chance."

The success at the distance is significant because Lord Kanaloa was a world-class sprinter. He won six top-level sprints, including two editions of the Sprinters Stakes (G1) at Nakayama and two runnings of the Longines Hong Kong Sprint (G1) at Sha Tin in Hong Kong. Sunday Silence, through Almond Eye's dam, provides stamina.

Orfevre, the 2011 Japanese Triple Crown winner, was an internationally proven stayer during a career that also included second-place finishes in the 2012 and 2013 Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (G1).

The announced attendance was 65,667.