The Gr.1 Osaka Hai, to be run at Hanshin Racecourse. will see some of the country’s older middle-distance stars begin their preparations for some of the other top-level races later in the year.
Al-Ain caused a 22/1 upset in last year’s Osaka Hai, but there was little more than a length between the first six horses, and a similarly close finish could easily be on the cards this time too, in what will be the 64th running of the race. SW profiles the top horses contesting this 2000m top-quality affair:
Danon Kingly The powerful dark bay colt finished second in last year’s Tokyo Yushun and third in the Satsuki Sho, so it would just seem a matter of time before he gains a Group One victory. In his only start this year, he won the Gr.2 Nakayama Kinen over 1,800 meters in March, and from his eight career starts he now has five wins and has only been unplaced once. His trainer, Kiyoshi Hagiwara, likes his chances.
Blast Onepiece The 2018 Arima Kinen winner had his first race since last year’s Arc de Triomphe in the Gr.2 American Jockey Club Cup in January, when he bounced back to winning ways in the 2,200-meter race. The 5YO by Harbinger now has seven wins from twelve starts and will be trying to improve on his sixth-place finish in last year’s Osaka Hai, when he started as favorite.
Chrono Genesis The 4YO filly tuned up nicely for this race with a comfortable 2 1/2 length victory in the Gr.2 Kyoto Kinen over 2,200 meters in February. It now means she has five career wins from nine starts and is already a Gr.1 winner after winning last year’s Shuka Sho in October.
Wagnerian One of two entries for trainer Yasuo Tomomichi, the 5YO by Deep Impact will be having his first run this year in the Osaka Hai. The 2018 Japanese Derby winner, and last year’s Japan Cup third, will be having just his twelfth start and is looking for his sixth appearance in the winner’s enclosure.
Lucky Lilac Not always able to live up to her name, the 5YO mare scored her second Gr.1 victory in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup last autumn and has had a couple of second-place finishes since, the latest in her only race this year, the Grade 2 Nakayama Kinen in March when she was beaten by Danon Kingly. Trainer Mikio Matsunaga thought she did little wrong in that race, however.
Makahiki At seven years of age, Makahiki is the oldest horse among the nominations, but the 2016 Japanese Derby winner is still a major force, as he showed last time when he finished fourth in the 2019 Japan Cup. His two previous runs in the Osaka Hai have also yielded fourth-place finishes. He’ll come to the race fresh this time, and his trainer, Yasuo Tomomichi, is always careful to make sure he’s in good condition.
Race Info: Distance: 2000 metres, Surface: Turf, Track: Right-handed, Qualification: 4-y-o +, Weight: 57kg. Fillies & mares allowed 2kg, Purse: ¥135,000,000 (winner, 2020)