Almond Eye following Gentildonna's path to Triple Crown glory
Report: Japan, Sunday
Tokyo: Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks) (Grade 1) 1m4f | 3yo fillies
Hours after Justify moved one race away from claiming America's historic Triple Crown, Almond Eye (Sakae Kunieda/Christophe Lemaire) moved herself into prime position for Japan's equivalent for fillies after a smooth victory in the Yushun Himba.
Winner of the Oka Sho (Japanese 1,000 Guineas) last month, Almond Eye was sent off at odds-on on her first run beyond a mile, and thrived at the longer trip.
Lemaire settled the filly in the chasing pack, and after 1,000 Guineas runner-up Lily Eye was produced with her challenge in the straight, Lemaire breezed past to frank the form, winning by two lengths.
Almond Eye became the first filly to complete the Oka Sho/Yushun Himba double since Gentildonna in 2012, and her winning time in the Oaks was 2 minutes 23. seconds, just 0.2 seconds short of Gentildonna's record.
"I had every confidence in her and the race went perfectly for us," Lemaire said. "She was a little hyped up but we had a good start and were in a good position. From there she settled in well and her turn of foot in the home straight was terrific.
"The stretch in distance was absolutely no problem for her. She is one special filly with great potential and she has the profile to face international competition if she has the chance."
Should Almond Eye bid for the three-year-old fillies' Triple Crown, she will be aimed at the Shuka Sho, which is staged at Kyoto. Only four fillies have accomplished the feat, with Gentildonna most recent winner six years ago.
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