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Sinhalite captures Japanese Oaks crown

Kyodo

First-choice Sinhalite erased the painful memory of the Oka-sho with a resounding win in the Japanese Oaks on Sunday.

The Kenichi Ikezoe-ridden Sinhalite held off second-favorite Cecchino by a neck on firm going at Tokyo Racecourse, the Deep Impact filly cutting a winning time of 2 minutes, 25.0 seconds over 2,400 meters.

Taking third in the second leg of the Japanese triple crown was Sinhalite’s half-sister Biche, who finished a half-length behind Cecchino.

Sinhalite missed out on the Oka-sho title, the first race in the triple crown series, by a mere 2 centimeters to Jeweler, who did not run in the Oaks because of a broken foreleg.

Ikezoe, who won the Oaks for his second time, was a happy man after leading his partner to her first Grade 1 victory.

“The Oka-sho was a tough race for us to accept and we were determined to make up for it in the Oaks,” Ikezoe said. “She didn’t get off to a great start so we ended up taking position a little further behind than I anticipated.

“Once she found space, though, she really turned it up. She’s a truly tough horse.”

Sinhalite, out of the Singspiel dam Singhalese, is now 4-for-5 for her career and traveled toward the rear to the inside of Cecchino as Dantsu Pendant set the pace.

Ridden by last week’s Victoria Mile winner, Keita Tosaki, Cecchino turned for home on the outside, heading for the wire uninterrupted, while Sinhalite was forced to navigate traffic on the final straight.

But once Sinhalite found room more than halfway down the stretch, there was no stopping Ikezoe’s mount, who took the tape in convincing fashion for a ¥100 million victory.

Ikezoe was already looking forward to a rematch with Jeweler and NHK Mile Cup champion Major Emblem in the Shuka-sho in October, the final race of the triple crown.

“In the fall, the Oka-sho winner will be there as well as the champion of the NHK Mile Cup,” he said. “That race will determine who the best filly of this generation will be.”

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