Almond Eye Beaten but Unbowed as a New Star Looms in Japan

Mark Smith - Sunday June 7

For the second year in a row it just was not meant to be for the superstar Almond Eye in the Group 1 Yasuda Kinen (1600m) at Tokyo racecourse on Sunday.

After a slow start, the daughter of Lord Kanaloa never really raised the hopes of her legion of supporters at any stage, battling on for second  some two and a half lengths behind last year’s Group 1 Oka Sho (Japanese 1000 Guineas) heroine Gran Alegria.

Defending champion Indy Champ clocked in third a half-length behind Almond Eye.

A daughter of the all-conquering Deep Impact, Gran Alegria made her 2020 debut with a second behind Mozu Superflare (USA) in the Group 1 Takamatsunomiya Kinen over 1200 metres at Chukyo on March 29.

With a supremely confident Kenichi Ikezoe in the saddle, Gran Alegria came from midfield to be a menacing presence on the turn. With Ikezoe sitting motionless until the 300m, the only doubt was what would run second.

Trained by Kazuo Fujisawa for Sunday Racing, Gran Alegria earns a golden ticket to the Breeders Cup Mile if connections choose to go that way later in the year.

Gran Alegria is the first foal of the top-class Tapit mare Tapitsfly whose seven wins include two at the highest level, the Just A Game Stakes and the First Lady Stakes as well as the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf.

Gran Alegria’s 3yo full-sister Blutgang won her only start in a newcomers race at Tokyo in June last year and has not been seen out since.

A $1,850,000 Fasig-Tipton purchase by Katsumi Yoshida in 2012, Tapitsfly has not had a foal after Blutgang.

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