Surging to the front inside the final 100 meters, Sunday Racing Co. Ltd.’s 5-year-old mare Songline (JPN) successfully defended her Yasuda Kinen (G1) title June 4 with a 1 1/4-length victory over Serifos (JPN) at Tokyo Racecourse. With this victory, Songline gained a free berth into the US$2 million FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) through the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series: Win and You’re In.
The Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series is an international series of 80 Graded/Group stakes races whose winners receive automatic starting positions and fees paid into a corresponding race of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, scheduled to be held Nov. 3-4 at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California.
Songline, trained by Toru Hayashi and ridden by Keita Tosaki, joins Al Muthana (AUS), winner of the L’Ormarins King’s Plate (G1) in South Africa; Lukka (CHI) who captured the Gran Premio Club Hipico Falabella (G1) in Chile; and Exaulted, winner of the Shoemaker Mile (G1) at Santa Anita, as the first horses to gain free berths to the 2023 FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Mile.
Following last year’s triumph in the Yasuda Kinen, Songline was scheduled to run in the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Keeneland, but the trip was canceled due to an epiglottis inflammation. Following today’s race, Sunday Racing connections indicated she will again be pointed to the Breeders’ Cup Mile.
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Today’s win was also Songline’s second Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series victory this year. On May 14 over the Tokyo course, she won the Victoria Mile (G1) and earned an automatic berth into the US$2 million Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1).
Under cloudy skies before 64,638 in attendance in the 73rd Yasuda Kinen for 3-year-olds and up, Songline faced 17 rivals in the one-turn mile, which included fellow Group 1-winners Sodashi (IRE) and last year’s runner-up Schnell Meister (GER). Starting from the outside 18th post position as the 7-1 fourth choice, Songline broke smoothly and camped three-wide around eighth to ninth along the backstretch. Longshot Win Carnelian (JPN) set the pace, with fifth pick Jack d’Or (JPN), and Serifos on his tail. Songline steadily climbed uphill and powered home, seizing the lead easily from Serifos in the last half-furlong and pulling away in the final strides.
Yasuda Kinen Replay
‟I was able to gallop her last week and felt that her form had improved, so I had every confidence in her today,” said winning rider Tosaki. “The position we found was ideal. She responded beautifully and demonstrated her strong turn of foot and speed today. To score two G1 wins in a row is just incredible and I feel she is still steadily progressing.”
A daughter of Kizuna (JPN) out of the Symboli Kris S (JPN) mare Luminous Pride (JPN), Songline completed the mile in 1:31.14 over a course listed as good to firm. Bred by Northern Farm, she improved her record to seven wins in 15 starts, and now has three Group 1 victories.
Runner-up Serifos (5-1), the 2022 Mile Championship (G1) winner at Hanshin, settled around fifth on the rail after a good break, launched a strong stretch drive after finding a narrow opening 300 meters out, and overtook Jack d’Or for the lead. However, Serifos was soon outrun by the winner on his outside while holding off the fast-closing Schnell Meister to finish second.
Schnell Meister, under Christophe Lemaire, cruised down the backstretch unhurried in third from last. The German-bred bay responded well with the fastest late speed, and powered past his tired rivals one by one, but failed to catch the front while digging in for third and warding off longshot Gaia Force (JPN) by a neck. Sodashi, who finished second in the Victoria Mile, stayed in contention through the final furlong, but could not match Songline’s closing rush, and wound up fifth. Kentucky-bred Cafe Pharoah, two-time winner of the February Stakes (G1) on dirt, and third in this year’s Saudi Cup (G1), was also prominent into the stretch but faded to 12th.
As a part of the benefits of the Challenge Series, Breeders’ Cup will pay the entry fees for Songline to start in the FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Mile, which will be run at a mile on the Santa Anita turf course. Breeders’ Cup will also provide a travel allowance for all starters based outside of North America to compete in the World Championships.