A daughter of champion Uncle Mo and G1 winner Tiz Miz Sue, the Mikio Matsunaga-trained Kentucky-bred exits a gritty victory in the 1800m Kuratake Sho on Jan. 25 at Nakayama, one race after her only poor showing from four starts, a 12th in the Cattleya Sho in the mud. The dark bay filly arrived locally on Sunday, Feb. 9, and stretched her legs over the local surface just after clearning quarantine on Tuesday morning.
"It was a very nice and smooth trip," said Keita Tanaka, manager of international racing matters for owner Koji Maeda. "She has two wins so far against colts, which is very good, so we think she is capable enough to be competitive in a Group 3 (against fillies). She has been showing some speed over there, so I don't think the pace here will be any trouble for her. On the sloppy ground, two races back, she did not like that and didn't want to run. Apart from that race, she has had three races where she ran well and I don't expect sloppy ground in Dubai."
A $500,000 Keeneland September 2018 purchase by Maeda's North Hills, she will be ridden by Yutake Take next week, who also piloted the same connections' Lani to victory in the 2016 UAE Derby (G2) just prior to him competing in all three legs of the American Triple Crown, including a third in the Belmont Stakes (G1).
"She was an expensive purchase, but the owner is now starting to buy good, quality fillies for his stallions in Hokkaido. It's important to do that and get good pedigrees. That team brought Lani four years ago and he won the Derby here. It's always been a plan to buy another good dirt horse and possibly come here again. We only have good memories here. It was like a dream journey to bring a 3-year-old colt here to win the (UAE) Derby and then go straight to the U.S. to run in the Kentucky Derby. With this filly, we are trying to do the same thing.
"Japan has been successful for more than 10 years shipping across the world, though last year was (especially) successful," Tanaka concluded. "Before that, we weren't that successful, but sometimes things go good and sometimes not so good. Hopefully, this year, we have another good year."
The UAE Oaks provides 85 qualification points for the $1.25 million Kentucky Oaks (G1) on May 1. Rayya, winner of the 1900m test in 2018, went on to finish second in the UAE Derby before being unplaced in the Kentucky Oaks.