Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas) Preview

The Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas) is run over a distance of 2000m (about 1 1/4 miles) and is a race which has often been won by emerging stars on the Japanese circuit. Past winners include Japanese Triple Crown winner and supersire Deep Impact, as well as, fellow Triple Crown winner and two-time Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe runner-up Orfevre.

The race, which takes place at Nakayama Racecourse, features fairly tight right-handed turns and an uphill finish.

Pace Scenario:

This year's edition looks to have a good to strong tempo early with likely breakaway leader Spirits Minoru, a winner of three in a row who has led at every sectional of his races to date, surging to the front straight away. Duramente was very keen last time out, but was placed forward early and figures to do the same here from the inside draw and Danon Platina looks to also go forward from the far outside. Them along with Kitasan Black and Komet, both of whom regularly press the pace early, figure to ensure that Spirits Minoru goes at a solid gallop from the start. 

Bright Emblem was a massive eyecatcher in his last outing despite finishing second to Satono Crown. He was well back early and made a long sustained run during which he was forced very wide on the far turn, and yet he still kept on well. He looks very much a progressive type and one who'll relish every bit of this distance. Connections have mentioned him being a bit more in the mix early on this time around and drawn along inside, he figures to get a nice ground saving trip. Perhaps he'll be better suited by further than this, but a tough 2000m could also play straight into his hands.

Beruf, a son of Harbinger, has won three from five races and another who appears to relish 2000m. Supposing they go at a good tempo out front from the start, he figures to be flying late. His dam Les Clefs d'Or, a full sister of the first Japanese bred overseas Group 1 winner and influential stallion Stay Gold, finished second in the 2000m G2 Sapporo Kinen in 2006 and his half brother Courage d'Or twice finished second in 2100m dirt stakes. 

A winner of two from three starts, Real Steel, is a versatile runner with some tactical speed, which could serve him well in this spot. He's incredibly well-bred too. From the family of Breeders' Cup winner and champion racemare Miesque, his second dam is Monevassia -- a full sister to Kingmambo -- making his dam a half sister to European champion two-year-old filly Rumplestiltskin. Real Steel is a son of the great Deep Impact and his full brother Langley won an 1800m stakes at Nakayama in January and has won over 2400m, as well. Of the favorites, he also appears to be one of the most well placed, as far as the draw is concerned. 

Several other runners have the talent to win, but will also have major obstacles to overcome. Duramente appeared the one to take forward from his most recent start, but he got very keen there and being drawn inside, I question his ability to stay composed throughout when potentially buried inside. His dam won over further than 2000m, but his two full siblings have done their best work over 1800m or less. Satono Crown is one of two unbeaten runners here, but I thought Bright Emblem was easily the one I'd take from that race and even though he's drawn midpack, he'll need a bit of luck to avoid being caught wide early -- or he may have to lay further back than he did last time. Both Kitasan Black and Danon Platina have shown bundles of talent to this point, but the race shape looks likely to severely hinder their chances.

Choices (and morning line prices in Japan):

1. #1 Bright Emblem (9.8)

2. #10 Beruf (16.7)

3. #5 Real Steel (3.7)

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