Intended for last fall’s Breeders’ Cup before a setback ruled her out, Songline earned a ticket to this November’s championships at Santa Anita with a late surge in Sunday’s “Win and You’re In” Victoria Mile (G1) at Tokyo. The Sunday Racing Co. runner speared through to deny white superstar Sodashi, who appeared to be on her way to a repeat victory.
The Victoria Mile offers a free berth to the Filly & Mare Turf (G1), but Songline is more interested in the Mile (G1). Indeed, her marquee win had come in the prestigious Yasuda Kinen (G1), a Breeders’ Cup Challenge event for the Mile, at this course and distance over males last summer.
While that form made Songline an obvious threat back among distaffers here, the question was whether she would return to that peak level in her homecoming. The Toru Hayashi mare had raced just twice since the June 5 Yasuda Kinen, and finished unplaced in both.
After a closing fifth in the about six-furlong Centaur (G2) on Sept. 11, Songline developed a throat issue – inflammation of the epiglottis – that scuttled her trip for the Breeders’ Cup Mile. The daughter of Kizuna was not seen again until venturing to Saudi Cup Day for her title defense in the 1351 Turf Sprint (G3), where she was well below form in 10th.
In hindsight, Hayashi believes that Songline’s mind wasn’t in the game in her Feb. 25 appearance in Saudi Arabia. His comments going into the Victoria Mile suggested that she would deliver a better effort, and she fulfilled his hopes with new rider Keita Tosaki.
Bettors were cautious, dispatching Songline as the fourth choice at 6-1. After all, she was fifth in last year’s Victoria Mile in her return from her successful Saudi venture, and now she was resurfacing from a flop. The market preferred Stars on Earth, the champion three-year-old filly of 2022 who was cutting back in trip and bet down to 3-2 favoritism. Namur and defending champion Sodashi were likewise well backed as the respective second and third choices.
Sodashi had to deal with the far outside post 16, and she nearly pulled it off amid the rainy gloom. Well handled by new pilot Damian Lane, Sodashi smoothly secured a fine position tracking pacesetter Lotus Land. A ground-saving Stars on Earth was nestled in closer striking range than usual, with Christophe Lemaire wanting to make use of her proven stamina. In her slipstream about midpack was Songline.
Entering the stretch, Sodashi appeared to have the race in her grasp. Lotus Land was still in front, but on sufferance, and as soon as Sodashi deployed her turn of foot, she took command. Stars on Earth angled out in pursuit, yet didn’t quite have enough gears at the metric mile.
Then Songline, who stuck to the inside path, finished with a flourish to join Sodashi in the final yards. Thrusting her head in front at the wire, Songline clocked 1:32.2 on a course labeled good-to-firm.
Stars on Earth checked in another three-quarters of a length back in third. The surprise package was 224-1 Divina, who ripped the fastest closing sectional to get up for fourth. Divina flew her final 600 meters (about three furlongs) in :33.1, compared to Songline’s :33.2. Although class-challenged on paper, Divina brought pedigree power as a daughter of Maurice and two-time Victoria Mile winner Verxina.
Sound Vivace reported home fifth, followed by Lotus Land, Namur, Namura Clair, Stellaria, Rouge Stiria, Andvaranaut, Stunning Rose, Sublime Anthem, La La Christine, Izu Jo no Kiseki, and Kurino Premium.
Songline’s second major mile win at Tokyo advanced her record to 14-6-2-1.
“Though we had to race further back and inward than planned,” Tosaki recapped, “we were able to race in good position while eyeing the race favorites. The track was a little heavy due to the rain but she responded strongly in the straight. It was a close race, but I was pretty sure we crossed the wire in front. I knew that Songline has a strong ability so I’m really happy we were able to win the race.”
During her 2021 sophomore campaign, Songline already advertised her ability versus males. She just missed in the NHK Mile Cup (G1) and later beat elders in the Fuji (G2).
Bred by Northern Farm in Japan, Songline is out of the Symboli Kris S mare Luminous Parade, a descendant of European mile celebrity Sonic Lady. Others tracing to Sonic Lady are Japanese classic-winning champion Logi Universe; Deirdre, who scored an historic win for Japan in the 2019 Nassau (G1) at Glorious Goodwood; and current Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby) (G1) contenders Skilfing and Hrimfaxi. Sonic Lady’s European clan includes High Definition and Kingfisher.
One race earlier on Sunday, exciting Justify colt Yuttitham returned triumphant in the Seiryu S. The carbon-copy of his sire had not raced since December, when he romped in a maiden and added an allowance. Those wins came at about 1 1/8 miles at Hanshin.
Yuttitham was resuming over a metric mile here, but he was still much the best as the 9-10 favorite. Under confident handling by Yuga Kawada, the Naosuke Sugai pupil readily drove 2 1/2 lengths clear in 1:35.8. He quickened his final split in a field-best :35.3 while making it look easy.
Now 3-for-4, Yuttitham has been unbeatable since his second on debut to Perriere, the future Hyacinth S. winner on the Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby. Yuttitham’s dam is the Grade 1-winning turfiste Zipessa, by City Zip.
Bred by Shadai Farm, Yuttitham sold to Kaneko Makoto Holdings for about $1.8 million as a yearling at the Japan Racing Horse Association Select Sale. That was more than 10 times the price of fellow Shadai yearling Derma Sotogake, the eventual UAE Derby (G2) hero and Kentucky Derby (G1) sixth. Yuttitham was also an early nominee to the U.S. Triple Crown.