Exciting galloper Sakura Girl presented her trainer Ben Foote and rider Kozzi Asano with the second leg of a winning stakes double at Te Rapa on Saturday when she cruised to victory in the Gr.3 McKee Family Sunline Vase (2100m).
The three-year-old daughter of Iffraaj couldn’t have been more impressive as she went straight to the front and never gave her age-group rivals a look in throughout the Group Three contest.
Asano had her in a beautiful rhythm in front and approaching the 600m had her humming along as she began to test the staying qualities of the field.
Three lengths clear at the 300m, Sakura Girl had plenty of petrol left in the tank as she held out runner-up Sedaka, who chased gamely and Marvelouz, who made up good ground late for third.
Foote had earlier seen his stable star Babylon Berlin streak home by seven lengths in the Gr.3 Haunui Farm Kings Plate (1200m) and had no additional worries with the performance of his younger stayer.
“It’s never that easy, but she is just a beautiful filly,” Foote said.
“We thought she had improved of late and we were pretty confident going into the race.
“She has an outstanding attitude and although it would have been good with some cover, we wanted to be positive and take bad luck out of the equation.”
Sakura Girl holds a nomination for the Gr.1 Al Basti Equiworld Dubai New Zealand Oaks (2400m) later this month with Foote keen to see his charge take on the big, roomy expanses of Trentham.
“I think she will lap up the 2400m at Trentham,” he said.
“I think she is in the top echelon so we are really looking forward to the Oaks, although this has been a very special day.”
Bred by the Moore family from their O’Reilly mare Soltina, Sakura Girl comes from an extended family of Group One winners including Captivate, Culminate and Eileen Dubh.
She was purchased for $280,000 during the 2021 New Zealand Bloodstock Ready To Run Sale by Foote’s long-term clients Ross and Andy Lau along with Tristan Hui of Upper Bloodstock.
TAB Bookmakers reacted quickly by installing Sakura Girl as the $5 favourite on the Fixed Odds market for the New Zealand Oaks on March 18, ahead of Family Ties at $8.