White thoroughbred first “coloured” horse to win Group One race

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A registered white racehorse in Japan has become the first of her colour to win a Group One race.

The undefeated two-year-old filly Sodashi won her fourth consecutive race when she took out the 1600m Hanshin Juvenile Fillies stakes on December 13. She carried 54kg and was against 17 other horses. The win has elevated her to favorite for the title of Japan’s champion two-year-old filly.

Sodashi winning the Group 1 Hanshin Juvenile Fillies stakes on December 13.
Sodashi winning the Group 1 Hanshin Juvenile Fillies stakes on December 13. © Japan Racing Association

Sodashi is by the grey stallion Kurofune and out of the famous “spotted wonder”, Buchiko, who is registered as white, but has dark chestnut “medicine hat” markings on her head, and jagged chestnut dapples or spots on her body, similar to appaloosa markings. Buchiko’s dam is the pure white mare Shirayukihime, by Sunday Silence. Buchiko is by King Kamehameha.

The white colouring of this line is through a specific gene mutation, the KIT gene, which plays an important role in colour during embryonic development, causing an absence of melanocytes in depigmented skin areas.

Registered as white, thoroughbred mare Buchiko has almost dappled colouring.
Sodashi’s dam Buchiko has almost dappled colouring.

Sodashi was already the first white horse to win a graded turf race and to have multiple graded victories, but it did not all go smoothly for her on Sunday, according to her jockey, Hayato Yoshida, who said she was reluctant to enter the starting gates.

Buchiko's dam, the pure white mare Shirayukihime.
Buchiko’s dam, the pure white mare Shirayukihime.

“I’m relieved that all went well and that we were able to be positioned just as I hoped. Going into the race as favorite was a bit of a load, but I’m thrilled with the outcome,” he said.

She won the race on a firm track in 1:32.40.

“The going affected her good turn of foot but she gave all she had. There is room for improvement, and I hope we can get her ready for next year’s classics.”

Yoshida is the Japan Racing Association’s all-time leader with six wins aboard white horses. “They’re all very sensitive and high maintenance,” he said of the rare horses.

“You do need to be careful with them but with her, that sensitive side is bringing out the best in her. She breaks well and is super responsive when you tell her to go. She’s really smart and a very complete racehorse.”

Sodashi was bred by Kaneko Makoto Holdings, which retains ownership, and trained by Naosuke Sugai.

» More on coloured thoroughbreds

Sodashi winning the Group 3 Artemis Stakes on October 31.
Sodashi winning the Group 3 Artemis Stakes on October 31. © Japan Racing Association

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