04/16/2010 12:00AM

Japanese 2000 Guineas looks wide open


The $2.4 million Satsuki Sho, or Japanese 2000 Guineas, at Nakayama on Sunday is a wide-open affair at 1 1/4 miles, with last year's juvenile champ, Rose Kingdom, one of eight or nine horses with a proper chance of victory.

A King Kamehameha colt, Rose Kingdom was the winner of the one-mile Futurity Stakes here in December. He was only third last out in Nakayama's 1 1/8-mile, Grade 2 Spring Stakes on March 21 behind Aliseo, a son of Symboli Kris S who should relish the extra furlong on Sunday.

But Aliseo has drawn widest of all in post 18, from where his usual early speed puts him at a disadvantage.

The key race for finding the winner may be the 1 1/4-mile, Grade 2 Hochi Hai Yayoi Sho, a Satsuki Sho course-and-distance prep. It was won by the Katsuhiko Sumii-trained Victoire Pisa, a son of Neo Universe out of Whitewater Affair, a Group 2 winner in France going 1 5/8 miles. A half-brother to one-mile, Grade 1 Yasuda Kinen winner Asakusa Den'en, Victorie Pisa will be ridden for the first time by Yasunari Iwata, who replaces the injured Yutaka Take.

But the selection is the half-length Hochi Hai Yayoi Sho runner-up Eishin Apollon. A Kentucky-bred son of Ginat's Causeway out of the Sadler's Wells mare Silk and Scarlet, who herself was the winner of the Group 2 Debutante Stakes as a 2-year-old in Ireland, Eishin Apollon had previously been second to Rose Kingdom in the Futurity Stakes.

His rider, Kenichi Ikezoe, said, "I think you'll see an 'Apollon' you've never seen before on Sunday."

Garbo, Eishin Flash, and Neo Vendome are all coming out of Grade 3 victories, Eishin Flash having won over the course and distance in the Keisei Hai. Any one of them would be nothing more than a mild surprise.