05/19/2005 11:00PM

Cesario one to beat in Japanese Oaks


All signs point to Cesario in Sunday's $2.1 million Yushun Himba, or Japanese Oaks, at Tokyo Racecourse, where each of 18 starters is being asked to go 1 1/2 miles for the first time in their brief careers.

A fast-closing head second in the 1 1/4-mile Japanese 1000 Guineas at Hanshin on April 10, Cesario is a daughter of the Sunday Silence stallion Special Week. In the Japanese 1000, she lost her perfect record to Rhein Kraft, who next beat colts in the Grade 1 NHK Mile. Out of the Sadler's Wells mare Kirov Premiere, Cesario should have no trouble staying 12 furlongs. Bred by Japanese powerhouse Northern Farm, she is trained by Katsuhiko Sumii and will be ridden by Yuichi Shibayama.

Cesario's stablemate Dia de la Novia, a Sunday Silence filly who will be ridden by Kent Desormeaux, is the main danger. Winner of the 1 1/4-mile Grade 2 Flora Stakes at Tokyo on April 24, she is also one who comes with a late run. Air Messiah and Eishin Tender will both have their supporters.

*Silent Witness, who had his 17-race undefeated record ended when narrowly beaten in the Champions Mile at Sha Tin last Saturday, will travel to Tokyo after all for the Yasuda Kinen on June 5, when he will again meet his Sha Tin conqueror and stablemate Bullish Luck. Owner Archie da Silva had originally said that Silent Witness would be rested until the autumn, but a thirst for revenge prompted a change of heart.