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Regaleira Takes On Boys Again in Satsuki Sho

She beat colts in her last start as a 2-year-old, the Hopeful Stakes (G1).

Regaleira wins the 2023 Hopeful Stakes at Nakayama Racecourse

Regaleira wins the 2023 Hopeful Stakes at Nakayama Racecourse

Katsumi Saito

Regaleira renews her so-far successful campaign against the boys in the Satsuki Sho (Japanese Two Thousand Guineas, G1) at Nakayama Racecourse April 14, facing last year's 2-year-old Japanese colt champion and a full brother to 2020 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (G1) winner Sottsass.

First, Regaleira.

The daughter of Suave Richard makes her 3-year-old debut with high expectations. In just her third start of 2023, Regaleira overcame an outside draw for the Hopeful Stakes (G1), raced well back in the field, and appeared to have spotted the front-runners an insurmountable lead straightening for home.

Then, she suddenly closed that gap with a blazing turn of foot and won by three-quarters of a length, going away. Now, after a break, assistant trainer Tomohiro Kusunoki reports Regaleira is checking all the boxes. And jockey Christophe Lemaire understandably is eager to climb aboard.

"She's developing well and is in good condition. Her recent work over six furlongs was very good, with her times and movement to match," Kusunoki said. "She's switched on, but easy to control.

"With her three races so far, her mental condition has been different each time, so we have made sure to check things over with her after each piece of work and have her just right for her races."

"I'm looking forward to next year," Lemaire said after the Hopeful.

Returning Rivals

Next year starts for Regaleira in the Satsuki Sho but, while the calendar has changed, a major foe has not. Shin Emperor returns to see if he can improve on his second-place finish in the Hopeful. The Siyouni colt, a full brother to Sottsass, appeared to have the race in the bag with 200 meters to go but had no answer to Regaleira's late charge and suffered his first loss after two career-opening wins.

Shin Emperor came up short with a late run of his own in his 3-year-old debut March 3 but assistant trainer Yusaku Oka said he had excuses for that.

"He got bumped at the first corner last time and then had to race on the inside where the ground wasn't so good," Oka said. "Consequently, he didn't run on so well from the fourth corner."

Last year's champion 2-year-old colt in Japan, Jantar Mantar, did not contest the 2,000-meter (about 1 1/4 miles) Hopeful, instead wrapping up a 3-for-3 season with a victory in the 1,600-meter (about one mile) Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes (G1). He won at 1,800 meters (about 1 1/8 miles) in his career debut, and tried that distance again in his first race as a 3-year-old, finishing second, and remains a question mark at the 2,000 meters of the Satsuki Sho.

"He has a lot more ability now, compared to before," jockey Yuga Kawada said of Jantar Mantar. "He's more relaxed when running and easier to control, so these points should help him over the 2,000 meters at Nakayama."

Cosmo Kuranda and Justin Milano, conquerors of Shin Emperor and Jantar Mantar, respectively, in their last races, both reappear in the Satsuki Sho.

The Satsuki Sho is the first leg of the Japanese Triple Crown. Following are the Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby, G1) at 2,400 meters (about 1 1/2 miles ) May 26 and the Kikuka Sho (Japanese St. Leger, G1) Oct. 20 at 3,000 meters (about 1 7/8 miles) over the Kyoto Racecourse greensward.

In 2023, the races were won by three different 3-year-olds: Sol Oriens, Tastiera, and Durezza.