Miss Panthere, Lys Gracieux Meet Again in Victoria Mile

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

May 11th, 2018

The spring racing season in is well underway, with top-quality races offering huge purse money on the agenda seemingly every weekend.

This week is no exception, as Tokyo Racecourse is set to host the $1.874 million Victoria Mile (Jpn-I) on Sunday, a 1,600-meter (about one mile) event for fillies and mares that has attracted a large field of eighteen starters.

Certainly the most prominent name in the field is , who opened her career with five wins from six starts, including an impressive triumph in the Yushun Humba (Japanese Oaks, Jpn-I) one year ago. However, the daughter of Frankel has not come close to winning in four starts since then and could only manage a tenth-place finish in the Hanshin Himba Stakes (Jpn-II) last month, her four-year-old debut. Soul Stirring will be looking to rebound on Sunday with regular rider Christophe Lemaire in the saddle.

Soul Stirring is one of eleven runners from the Hanshin Himba returning to contest the Victoria Mile, a group that includes the top five finishers from the race: Miss Panthere, Red Avancer, Lys Gracieux, Admire Lead, and Jour Polaire. Just one length separated the quintet at the finish, and while Miss Panthere was best on the day and brings a four-race win streak into the Victoria Mile, early wagering has the more experienced Lys Gracieux as the favorite. That’s not too surprising since Lys Gracieux has finished second three times previously in Group 1 company and will be ridden by the legendary jockey .

Notably, the pace of the Hanshim Himba was slow with a very fast finish, which played to the strengths of front-running Miss Panthere while putting closers like Lys Gracieux at a disadvantage. “I thought the pace would be slow in the Hanshin Himba Stakes, but she is not the most nimble of horses and the pace was even slower than I’d imagined. That hurt,” Take recently told the Japanese Racing Association. “Nonetheless, she ran well… As a 3-year-old old, she would tense up if she was running with other horses and would want to stop—this year in both her starts she ran with the others and there were no problems.”

Aerolithe, who defeated males in the NHK Mile Cup (Jpn-I) over this course and distance last spring, returned to action in February with a narrow defeat in the Nakayama Kinen (Jpn-II) going 1,800 meters and could be sharper in her second start of the season while cutting back to her preferred distance. Making the opposite move is Let’s Go Donki, and accomplished sprinter stretching out in distance. Let’s Go Donki doesn’t run 1,600 meters on turf very often, but she does have back class at this distance, having won the 1,600-meter Oka Sho (Jpn-I) in April 2015.

Post time for the Victoria Mile is 2:40 a.m. Eastern.