Picks and plays: Oka Sho highlights weekend racing in Japan

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April 10th, 2020

Though the COVID-19 outbreak has prompted states of emergency in seven Japanese prefectures, Thoroughbred racing in Japan is still scheduled to continue this week, albeit without spectators and with some special restrictions on participation.

BetAmerica players can enjoy a competitive evening of racing at Hanshin across Saturday night and Sunday morning, with the prestigious Oka Sho (G1) leading the charge. The 1,600-meter race for 3-year-old fillies is the opening leg of Japan’s Filly Triple Crown, won in 2018 by superstar Almond Eye. Scheduled as the 11th race on the card, post time for the Oka Sho is 2:40 a.m. ET.

With 18 entries, the Oka Sho is shaping up to be one of the most competitive races anywhere in the world this weekend.

The speedy #17 Resistencia, a five-length winner of the Hanshin Juvenile Fillies (G1) over this course and distance in December, looms as the filly to beat. A granddaughter of 1989 Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Sunday Silence, Resistencia shattered the juvenile course record at Hanshin, with a time of 1:32.70, and will have legendary jockey Yutaka Take in the saddle for the Oka Sho.

But victory is far from assured in this challenging race. Resistencia was beaten in her 2020 debut, when she came up 1 1/4 lengths short against #3 Maltese Diosa and #11 Cravache d’Or in the 1,600-meter Tulip Sho (G2) at Hanshin a month ago.

Maltese Diosa and Cravache d’Or were separated by a nose at the finish, just as they were when they finished second and third behind Resistencia in the Hanshin Juvenile Fillies. Handicappers must debate whether Maltese Diosa and Cravache d’Or improved over the winter, or if Resistencia regressed in his first run of the season.

Let’s assume Resistencia needed a race off the layoff and favor her to rebound. We’ll play her on top in the exacta and trifecta, while using Maltese Diosa, Cravache d’Or, and #9 Daring Tact underneath. The latter is 2-for-2 and demonstrated a powerful turn of foot to win the 1,600-meter Elfin S. at Kyoto on Feb. 8, when she sprinted the final 400 meters in :34 to record a final time of 1:33.60.

$6 exacta: 17 with 3,9,11 ($18)
$2 trifecta: 17 with 3,9,11 with 3,9,11 ($12)

Also, if you’re planning to stay up Sunday night to greet Monday morning, be sure to check out the evening’s dirt racing at Kawasaki in Japan. The card kicks off at midnight ET, with a string of races for 3-year-olds on the agenda.

There’s an outside chance you’ll see a future Kentucky Derby contender in action.

Enjoy the racing!