04/14/2017 8:56AM

Fan Dii Na risks perfect record against males in Satsuki Sho


The Oka Sho, Japan’s version of the 1000 Guineas for 3-year-old fillies, was contested last weekend at Hanshin, and Fan Dii Na wasn’t part of it. No, this is a filly of such promise that her connections will instead try her Sunday at Nakayama in the Group 1 Satsuki Sho, the Japanese 2000 Guineas.

Fan Dii Na faces males for the first time but has gained enough of a following that she’s the solid favorite to become the first female winner of the race since 1948.

Fan Dii Na, by Deep Impact, was unraced at 2 but has won all three of her starts this year, earning her way into the Satsuki Sho with a five-length romp March 20 in the Group 3 Flower Cup over about 1 1/8 miles at Nakayama. In that race, Fan Dii Na broke alertly from post 12 and tracked the pacesetter from second until asked for run with just more than a quarter-mile remaining.

With huge, bounding strides, Fan Dii Na shot to the front, opened up a big lead, and never came close to being threatened in the home straight while running out the easiest of winners.

Fan Dii Na has the size and strength to cope with colts, and she should stay the Satsuki Sho’s 2,000 meters (about 1 1/4 miles) while getting more than four pounds from her male rivals, but she will no doubt face the stiffest competition of her career Sunday.

Satono Ares won the Group 1 Asahi Hai Futurity in December and subsequently was named the champion 2-year-old of 2016, but the wagering markets seem to have overreacted to his fourth-place finish March 19 in the Fuji TV Sho Spring Stakes. Satono Ares finished a close fourth while making his 3-year-old debut and stands a decent chance of improving sufficiently to win Sunday, perhaps at a playable price on the North American tote.

Win Bright, another among the apparent principals Sunday, won the Fuji TV Sho Spring while making his second start this year and probably has a lower ceiling right now than a horse like Satono Ares.

Rey de Oro won all three of his starts last year at 2, including the Group 2 Hopeful Stakes in December over this same distance at Nakayama, but the Satsuki Sho marks his first start in more than three months.

Suave Richard, a Group 3 winner who never has been worse than second in four starts, looks like a major contender. He was a second-out maiden winner over 2,000 meters last year and won by more than two lengths over 1,800 meters when making his 3-year-old debut in February.

Cadenas also has finished first or second in all of his races, four last year at 2 and one this season, and was a course and distance winner March 5 in the Hochi Hai Yayi Sho, a local prep for the Satsuki Sho.

Post time for the Satsuki Sho, which is worth $1.71 million, is 2:40 a.m. Eastern.