2023 Osaka Hai & Lord Derby Challenge Odds and Picks

Fireworks are expected as super filly Geraldina goes head-to-head once more with Weltreisende in the 2023 Osaka Hai at Hanshin to see who is the best middle distance older mare in Japan.

Osaka Hai

Grade 1 – Purse $2,860,000 – 2000 meters (1 mile 2 furlongs) –  Turf – 4-Year-Olds

Geraldina looks sure to be the chalk for this race and it is no surprise considering the high level of form she has shown. She won the Grade 2 All-Comers back in September before taking out the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth Cup in November.

There is no doubt she is the one to beat here after a fine third to Equinox last time in the Grade 1 Arima Kinen. Equinox obliterated his rivals in Dubai last weekend, and the piece of form makes Geraldina a clear favorite here.

However, Weltreisende will be no pushover, and she herself has already beaten Geraldina when they met in the Grade 3 Naruo Kinen last year. We know she is in top form and fit as she won the Grade 2 Nikkei Shinshun Hai in late January and may have a fitness advantage over her main rival.

Apart from the top two on the board, there are plenty here with chances and one of those is Jack D’Or. She is yet to win at the top table but has two Grade 2 stakes victories to her name and looks to be improving as she is maturing. She is all about speed and will look to go gate-to-wire here and has a solid shot at a slice underneath.

Another that likes to be on the pace is North Bridge and she is definitely a horse on the up. This is a step up the class ladder but last time she put up a career-best performance to win the Grade 2 American Jockey Club Cup. She was a stalker that day so tactically she is versatile and should give the top two plenty to think about.

One of the classiest runners here is Hishi Iguazu. She is a seven-year-old now but still retains all of her ability and last time was a Grade 2 winner just over a week ago in the Nakayama Kinen. That was her first run since June last year when she finished runner-up behind the highly talented Titleholder, and she is one to take very seriously here.

Stars On Earth is one of last season’s classic crop and she was a very impressive winner of The Japanese Oaks in May. She then came back from a five-month lay to run third in the Grade 1 Shuka Sho at Hanshin in October where she once again closed late and fast. This 2000-meter trip is a negative but she has plenty of class.

Others of interest include North The World, Matenro Leo, and Lagulf.

2023 Osaka Hai Odds & Betting Prediction

HorseJockeyOdds by Jazzsports
Killer AbilityT.Danno+4160
Jack d’OrY.Take+260
Stars on EarthC.Lemaire+270
Danon the KidK.Yokoyama+4160
North the WorldY.Kitamurascratched
North BridgeY.Iwata+4160
Hishi IguazuK. Matsuyama+460
Hindu TimesK.Ikezoe+4160
Matenro LeoN.Yokoyama+1500
Maria ElenaS.Hamanaka+1320
Mozu BelloA.Nishimura+12600
Wonderful TownR.Wadascratched

Both Geraldina and Weltreisende will have their supporters here and they could easily fill the first two spots, and the one we like best is Weltreisende.

However, such was the performance of STARS ON EARTH in last season’s Japanese Oaks, that she has to be the main selection and she may be a bit of value on the boards.

This is no easy race, and Hishi Iguazu is high on our shortlist along with the pace-setting North Bridge, and both of these have solid chances underneath.

Lord Derby Challenge

Grade 3 – Purse $585,000 – 1600 meters (1 mile) – Turf – 4-Year-Olds and Up

Can Red Mon Reve take the step up the class ladder and secure a first-graded stakes victory after winning her fourth win in seven starts last time out?

Red Mon Reve is definitely a fascinating contender here amongst some proven graded stakes contenders. She won The Setsabun Allowance Stakes last time where she stalked the pace before closing late to secure her fourth victory. This is tougher and her first try in deeper waters but she is improving and holds a solid chance.

One of the more experienced in this field is Another Lyric, who has already tasted graded stakes success back in April 2022 when she won the Grade 3 Fukushima Himba over 1800 meters (1 mile 1 furlong). She is a strong closer, so the cutback in distance is negative but she was third in this spot last time over 1600 meters (1 mile) and has a solid chance to hit the board.

If we are looking at class droppers, then the one that fits the bill is Justin Cafe who was second in the Grade 2 Mainichi Okan back in October at Tokyo before a solid performance at the top table when sixth in the Grade 1 Mile Championship. She has since come out and finished fourth in a Grade 3 on her first start this year and should be 100% fit. She is another one that will be closing late.

Some of the less exposed horses of interest are Sonnig and Matenro Orion.

Sonnig was a runner-up in the Listed Kochi Stakes at Nakayama just over two weeks ago over a mile, and that was her fifth board finish in her last six starts. All of those have come since she has cut back to a mile, so a strong run is expected today.

Matenro Orion is not in the best of form at present but has solid back form and won the Grade 3 Shinzan Kinen on just her third career start, and then went on to win the Grade 1 NHK Spring Cup back in May of last year. On her best form, she would be very dangerous here.

Others that look of interest include Time To Heaven, Falconia, Miss New York, and Le Plus Fort with the latter being of most interest.

Le Plus Fort won the Grade 2 Swan Stakes back in October and has come out this year to run a nice prep race for this when not beaten far in the Hankyu Hai Stakes at Hanshin in late February.

Lord Derby Challenge Odds & Betting Pick

HorseJockeyOdds by Jazzsports
Another LyricA.Tsumura+2090
Win GreatestM.Matsuoka+2090
Justin CafeC.Lemaire+190
Scar FaceK.Yokoyama+1100
Solo PhraseT.Bushizawa+9760
Time to HeavenT.Ono+13000
Taurus GeminiS.Sato+39300
Matenro OrionN.Yokoyama+2720
Miss New YorkM.Demuro+1550
Mikki BrillanteR.Sakai+19600
Le Plus FortS.Ishibashi+3490
Red Mon ReveY.Kawada+190

A wide-open race and the one that has a strong chance of hitting the board is Another Lyric. She will be one of the ones closing late and fast.

The main selection is JUSTIN CAFE who has been competing at a higher level on recent starts and gets some nice class relief today. She’ll be fit and ready to rumble after her first run of the season when fourth in a Grade 3 at Tokyo.

Both Red Mon Reve and Matenro Orion hold solid chances underneath and should be in the mix for a share of this half-a-million-dollar-plus purse.

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