Japan \ Anne Marie Duff

White star Sodashi returns

JRA Group 1 action returns for the first time in 2022, tomorrow with the February Stakes Tokyo Racecourse, one of just two dirt races in the year at the highest level.

The star attraction is the white filly Sodashi. Last year’s Group 1 Oka Sho (Japanese 1000 Guineas) winner is on a recovery mission here, after failing to place in her last two races, the later being the Champions Cup at the end of last year, her first run on dirt.

Trainer Naosuke Sugai still has plenty of faith in the Kurofune filly, and she has been working well in preparation.

Cafe Pharoah is last year’s winner and the now five-year-old American-bred is looking to become just the second horse in the history of the February Stakes to win it twice.

Golden Sixty back on track

SHA Tin stages two Group 1 races tomorrow with the return of the Hong Kong star Golden Sixty in the Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup.

Golden Sixty tasted defeat for the first time since July, 2019 when unable to overhaul Waikuku last time. He can bounce back following that effort and although there are concerns about going back up in distance – he is unbeaten at his two tries over this trip. He has the class and quality to banish that last defeat.

His main rival is Zebrowski, an improving type off the back of consecutive Group 3 wins and had Group 1 form in Australia. Former Royal Ascot winner Russian Emperor has been consistent and deserves a stack of respect.

In the Group 1 Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup, it looks destined for Irish-bred Waikuku who turned in a career-best performance last start when defeating Golden Sixty over a mile in the Group 1 Stewards’ Cup. He’s after back-to-back wins in this race and with recent form on his side – he is the one to beat.

The in-form Sky Field step up in trip, while Healthy Happy should lead early.

America \ Anne Marie Duff

McPeek is hoping

for a winning Smile

THE Road to the Kentucky Derby begins to hot up with the $400,000 Grade 2 Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots tonight.

The Risen Star Stakes is the first 50-point to the winner contest on the calendar.

Kenny McPeek, ships in 7/2 morning line favourite Smile Happy from his Gulfstream Park winter base.

The son of Runhappy won the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes in his second and final start of his juvenile season. That race has produced three stakes winners since in Lecomte victor Call Me Midnight, Holy Bull winner White Abarrio and Sam F. Davis winner Classic Causeway.

Chad Brown’s impressive maiden winner Zandon started favourite at Aqueduct in the Grade 2 Remsen Stakes, battling inside of eventual winner Mo Donegal. Mo Donegal made things tight but the stewards left the result his way by a nose.

Doug O’Neill runs Slow Down Andy who captured the Grade 2 Los Alamitos Futurity over the well-regarded Messier, who recently romped to victory in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes.